Well, if you do not know Gmail then you definitely have been living under a rock for the past decade! Gmail is the world’s most predominant email service offered by Google. According to stats, as of date over 1.2 billion of world’s population uses Gmail! That is like thousands of exabytes of data under one domain. By now we all know that Gmail offers us with two different categories of accounts. The G suite accounts, purely for business use (email@example.com) and free accounts or consumer accounts, for personal use (firstname.lastname@example.org).
From storage to support, the G suite accounts have more advantage over the free accounts. One such advantage is that Google does not scan the inboxes of the G suite users for any purpose. This is understandable keeping in mind that they are business accounts and no company will accept giving out business secrets. Google, however, scans all the free accounts!
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Every mail that you send from your personal Gmail account is scanned by Google. So if you have sent a mail to your mother, friend, wife, customer care or anyone for that matter Google has already read your mails!
But do not worry because Google is least interested in your personal life! This is done only to personalize your ads! Yes, you read it right! Google scans your mails to check your interests and personalize your ads sponsored by Google. So say you are sending a mail from your personal account to your mother about going to the beauty parlour or may be taking a personal loan, a few times. When Google scans your mails on Gmail, its sees your conversation about beauty parlours or personal loans and gets to know you are interested in it. This is done by taking only the keywords from your mail, such as beauty and beauty parlour or personal loan and loan. This way it personalizes your ads and you can see display ads on your Gmail account about discounted prices on beauty parlours and beauty products or less interest on personal loans. By this Google builds an advertising profile for every user.
However Google gave a surprise announcement on June 23rd, 2017 that it will stop scanning inboxes of the free Gmail account holders for ad personalization by sometime later this year. This according to Google is to closely align the G suite and the consumer suite.
Diane Greene, Google’s Senior Vice President for Google Cloud, said the company made this decision because it “brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products”
The announcement was made by Diane Greene on a blog post that said “G Suite’s Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalization, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer Gmail service”
“Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change. This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products. Ads shown are based on user’s settings. Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalization.”
So when it comes to email privacy, after this change is implemented, the 1.2 billion users of free accounts will get the same treatment as the 3 million company accounts that pay for G suite!
Scanning personal inboxes had created a controversy earlier in 2014 when it began. However it does not seem like Google’s growth has been interrupted because of this debate. Keeping in mind the space and service provided by Google, collecting personal details was never an issue for the users of free accounts.
The majority of Google’s revenue comes from advertising. This does not mean, after the change Google will lose its revenue and incur a loss. Keeping in mind that Google needs no more information that can be collected from its users (Google knows like EVERYTHING about you.. already!), Google will still personalize ads for us. Just that this time it will not be from scanning our email inboxes. Google will still continue to collect cookies and sponsor display ads based on our interests.
Gmail is by far the only email service that gives the best of service to its users. Being the most used email service today; it successfully protects its users from spam, hacking, and phishing. Emailing has been made faster, easier and more efficient by the various smart reply options that Gmail gives. Not just fast and easy but Gmail is also a very safe service to use when it comes to payments. Most of our financial accounts are linked to our personal Gmail accounts and this gives it a reason to use cutting edge technology to provide high encryptions to our data.
Apart from all the above facts, it is necessary that we become aware of the fact that Google also allows us to opt out from personalizing ads.
How to opt out of ad personalization on Gmail?
1. Go to https://myaccount.google.com/ from your respective Google account.
2. Click on Ad settings under Personal info & privacy
3. You will be directed to a page with all your preferences and interests listed for your ads personalisation.
4. Choose from the list what you would like to see and what you don’t.
This way you can change your preferences in your personalised ads or if you wish to, you can opt entirely out of these ads popping on your screen.
We would like to stress on the fact that this change will not make Google or Gmail ad-free. Just that the ads will not be a result of scanning your inboxes and checking the most used keywords in your mails. Rather it will be from your Google searches, YouTube video searches, the websites you visit mostly through Google Chrome, the apps you use (not to forget the Play Store also belongs to Google) and other activities you do online. And also do not forget, you can always choose to opt out of this in a single click!