Google has announced that beginning later this year, they will no longer scan or otherwise use messages in their free Gmail system for ad personalization purposes (this is already the case for their paid Gmail (G Suite) product.
This is a good decision to help undercut the Google haters’ false propaganda, but let’s be clear — this Gmail message scanning was always utterly harmless.
The controversies about Gmail scanning were ginned up by greedy lawyers and Google adversaries, with Microsoft’s lying and widely discredited (and now discontinued) “Scroogled” anti-Google propaganda campaign playing a significant “fake news” disinformation role (well before the term “fake news” became popular).
In fact, Gmail scanning has been closely akin to scanning for viruses and spam in messages. No humans were ever actually “reading” Gmail messages for ad personalization purposes, and the scanning that has occurred has been solely to find keywords that would help show relevant ads to any given user.
Advertisers have never had access to this data — their ads are shown by Google without personal information being made available to those advertisers at all. One of the continuing “big lies” that Google haters propagate is the claim that Google sells their users’ personal information to third parties. They don’t. But a lack of understanding by many Google users of how Google’s ad systems actually work (Google could indeed be better at explaining this clearly) helps to feed such dramatic and completely false notions.
The bottom line is that Gmail scanning has never posed a privacy risk, but since entirely stopping Gmail scanning puts a final nail in the coffin of these fake abuse claims, it’s an excellent move by Google. Good work.