Google (and Yahoo) Using Email to Profile You!

Posted January 30, 2007 1:05 pm by Comments (18)

A family member (who we’ll call Bob) sent an email to my wife on the subject of Health. It was one-link to a nutrition-site product (sunflower oil and other vitamins). My wife uses Gmail for all her email needs. Bob uses Yahoo for his needs.

The email contained a single link with no other information and not even a signature. The one-link email was flanked on its right side with sponsored links from Google. Ok, this is normal.

What was not normal, and was terrifying was that the ads where for Illuminati, deep secret governments, and a whole host of underground conspiracy ads. My wife was puzzled by the ads because they had nothing to do with nutrition. She knows how the ads should work because she has an Adsense account.

Our curiosity of the misinformed ads grew quickly.

For the heck of it we decided to call Bob and ask him if he was into these types of websites? He said, “That’s where I mostly visit. And how would we know this intimate information?”

We explained; Google reads email content with electronic robots and delivers ads based on ‘The Emails’ content. So if your email is about cats, ads should appear on the subject of cats. Google has always claimed it does not track content of users email. It simply provides content-based ads.

This came as a shock to Bob! He said he spends his life investigating threats to the U.S. constitution and expects that to remain ‘private’ to his household.

With that, we all felt a chill down our spine. How is it that emails from Bob now reveal where he surfs to his recipients?

This is no mistake on Google’s part. They are beginning to profile its users through toolbars, email content, collaboration with Yahoo databases and where we visit frequently. Then targeting our associates to see if they too are interested in the same subject matter? Or is that all its for?

I have never been into conspiracy before, but this smells rotten. We have clear evidence that Google and Yahoo somehow track our behavior “Personally!”

Look at the facts:

1) Bob only uses Yahoo for all his needs. This includes email, surfing and purchases.
2) My wife received the email from Bob in her Gmail account.
3) Yahoo and Google are two separate company’s right?
4) Bob has never revealed to my wife his personal Internet life.
5) Ads about where Bob visits frequently appear where content ads should have under Google sponsored section in Gmail email.
6) Bob confirmed that these are the primary sites he visits.
7) Gmail ads should only be focused on email content.

It is becoming ever clearer to me that we are heading towards George Orwell’s 1984. By the way, I can thank Google for those conspiracy ads, which lead me to this book. What a freekin’ irony!

Google is becoming the threat that so many predicted. I guess I am just starting to wake up.

~ BigD of

Editor’s Note: From time to time we will be featuring guest commentary here on I’d like to thank BigD for being the first such post. If you’d like to contribute to, contact us at info[at] Thanks!

18 responses to Google (and Yahoo) Using Email to Profile You!

  1. New Stuff Today January 30th, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    […] Gevil reports interesting possible user profiling within Gmail, and not the kind you might expect […]

  2. Amused January 31st, 2007 at 9:22 am

    If you read 1984, you would understand we are very far from that type of reality. Parallels can be drawn, but the truth is 1984 was much worse than anything happening now.

  3. Matt Keegan January 31st, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Chilling indeed. I use Gmail and had no idea that they had this type of hole in their system. I hope that it is patched quickly or I’ll have to look at other options…again!

  4. Patrick Mylund Nielsen January 31st, 2007 at 9:43 am

    What are the chances that this was an HTML e-mail and somehow, keywords that would trigger these kinds of advertisements were embedded in it?

    It doesn’t sound very probable, I’m sure, especially considering the topic in question. But when you weigh it against the chance of a corporation like Google disclosing personal information of this magnitude, in a way that doesn’t even make sense as a business tactic/move — I, at least, would check that e-mail again.

  5. gevil January 31st, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Patrick, I would be inclined to agree with you if it weren’t for the fact that AOL recently released detailed search history of thousands of people.

    Here’s a link to the story:

  6. Big D January 31st, 2007 at 10:44 am

    The email contained a link only
    No hidden text, java, or imbedded links.

    I think we should ask friends to experiment with this issue. Ask a friend to send a link only email, without any other text. Have it sent on a topic that your friend has no interest in. Then look at the Gmail ads.

    Remember, this was a Yahoo email to a Gmail email account.

    Big D

  7. Adrian January 31st, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Well it explains why if I search for something with google ads usually popup relating to that in Gmail regardless of whether I have an email on that subject or not!

  8. BestDesi January 31st, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Well google are bigtime data collectors when they took out the desktop search it almost showed their long term plab if you have ever used google desktop be sure every files you have is being inxed in a google server located somewhere in the servers in some country which does not have any sort of digital laws..but hey they provide stuff for free and fast who cares? or do we?

  9. shookout January 31st, 2007 at 11:27 am

    did you google his yahoo email address? I bet he posts on some illuminati message boards and the ad sense used his email address just like it does any other text. If that is “mostly what he visits” I bet his email address is listed on some of those sites and that’s why that came up.

  10. Big D January 31st, 2007 at 11:38 am

    No, but it appears that email data mining is already underway. If they can do it with a court order, it is already being done.

    Look at the 4th paragraph in this article just sent to me.

    I will se if I can Google his email and get back too you.


    Editor’s Note: You might need to copy and paste the link into your browser.

  11. Gabrial Casey January 31st, 2007 at 11:43 am

    Google is an advertising company. They have access to everything on the internet via thier search technology. If Bob is a ranting conspiacy nut that blogs all over the internet and the e-mail has no other marketable ad words then I am sure it will turn up. And really bob should start his own e-mail server on his own internet if he does not want people poking around his account. This is not 1984. Google is an outstanding american company.

  12. gevil January 31st, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Gabrial, you don’t have a problem with Google using their search data for profiling, advertising, and who knows what else?

    Even if you don’t care about the ads being shown in emails, isn’t it a VERY slippery slope to be heading down?

    We’re providing these companies (not just Google) with some of the most valuable information possible, and we’re not requiring any regulations, or requiring any accountability. This is actually going to be the subject of a post quite soon.

    And, to say “if you don’t like it, make your own internet” is just asinine.

  13. Big D January 31st, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    I went ahead and Googled his email. Google say’s “did not match any documents.”

    So I just called him and asked him if he was a member of any forum that was conspiracy related. Did he join or give his email to any message board? He said he is not and he was very private in his research. He is very protective of his email address.


  14. James Mortensen March 1st, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    I remember reading a news story sometime last year regarding the government and its request that all of the major search engines hand over years worth of search queries submitted by users.

    All of them gave in: MSN, Yahoo, and AOL, and many others. However, Google stood their ground and said NO.

    In fact, I just performed a search query and came up with several results:

    AOL may have released their records, but AOL isn’t Google and it never will be! You can’t predict the behavior of one organization based on another. Google and AOL obviously have different standards of ethics, and the two are in no way related.

    I don’t believe Google is the demon that you claim it is. Their leadership has stood by the privacy of their users, and I will continue to support them. I may even apply for a position at one of their new offices!

    James Mortensen

  15. gevil March 1st, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    James, Google did indeed stand their ground in that instance, however, they’ve since turned over records to the government several times. They have cooperated with our government and have agreed to censor their results due to the demands of the Chinese government.

    These are not the actions of a company I want to entrust my data to.

  16. gevil=conspiracytheorist April 7th, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    This site is crap

  17. gevil April 18th, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    My favorite part about this is that the guy used a email address. Like it’s supposed to impress me or scare me or something…

  18. hank freid July 10th, 2008 at 1:09 am

    Google and Yahoo have come up with new and very similar plans to respond to the challenge from MySpace and Facebook: They hope to turn their e-mail systems and personalized home page services (iGoogle and MyYahoo) into social networks.