Blackspot

Unclick Google

We can force Google to stop their privacy violations while ridding the internet of advertising ... by clicking ads.
Google is keeping logs of our private lives. (Picture source)

On March 11, Google revealed its latest plan to violate your privacy: they will now record the types of websites you visit in order to gather a behavioral profile of your interests purportedly so that they can send you targeted advertising.

This policy is in addition to their current policy of keeping a record of every single web search you have ever made along with as much other personally identifying information as they can gather. Of course, these behavioral profiles and detailed search histories will also be made available to law enforcement personnel upon request. The disregard for user privacy is a long standing tradition at Google and one that should be challenged. Just as Facebook was recently forced to cave after protests, Google too can be made to backtrack from their creeping violations of our privacy. Every company has their weak point, for Facebook it is the fear that users will stop using the site, and for Google it is the necessity of increasing their advertising revenue. I propose that we collectively embark on a civil disobedience campaign of intentional, automated "click fraud" in order to undermine Google's advertising program with the goal of forcing Google to adopt a pro-privacy corporate policy.

As every internet user knows, the web is inundated with advertising. Many of these ads are generated automatically by Google. Unlike advertisements in newspapers or on billboards which are priced per impression (the more people that see an ad the more expensive it is), Google's ads are priced per click. Therefore, every time you click on a Google AdSense advertisement, some advertiser must pay Google. If the ad you clicked on was displayed on a website other than Google's then Google must also pay that website. As you can see, if ads are being clicked on automatically then the whole house of cards upon which the AdSense system is built on crumbles. Advertisers will refuse to pay Google and Google will refuse to pay websites.

Because Google ads are targeted, certain advertisers are willing to pay top dollar for clicks. Some keywords such as insurance, refinance and "IRS problem" are rumored to be worth more than $10 per click. Click fraud can very quickly do major damage to Google and its advertisers but the fact is there is nothing Google can do to stop it, if we work together.

The system I propose is quite simple and is accomplished in three steps:

  1. Install Firefox and restart Firefox
  2. Install GreaseMonkey (a useful plug-in for Firefox)
  3. Install the Blackspot Google GreaseMonkey script or if you are on a slow network install the Blackspot Google Randomly script which will only click on one ad randomly.

Now, whenever you use Google your computer will automatically click on all the AdSense advertisements sending a message to Google to stop their privacy violations.

Note: If you are a techie and want to get involved with this campaign, we need a version of this script that will both remove the ads from our sight and click them automatically. The best would be integration of this script into Adblock Plus. Unfortunately, this script does not work with Adblock Plus so if you want to use Adblock Plus (you should!) then you must disable it on google.com in order to automatically click their ads. If you are a programmer, post your upgraded version of this script below. (Update: One person has already posted an updated version, but I haven't tested it yet.)

Special thanks to Alf at Hublog for designing the prototype of this script four years ago which I upgraded to work today.

The debate is raging! Read the March 13 follow-up to this post for further discussion of Unclick Google

Micah White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters Magazine and an independent activist. He can be reached at www.micahmwhite.com or micah[at]adbusters.org

Adbusters 111 Cover

On Newsstands December 3

At last we’re in Winter. It’s the year 2047. A worn scrapbook from the future arrives in your lap. It offers a stunning global vision, a warning to the next generations, a repository of practical wisdom, and an invaluable roadmap which you need to navigate the dark times, and the opportunities, which lie ahead.

Subscribe to Adbusters Magazine

240 comments on the article “Unclick Google”

Displaying 201 - 210 of 240

Page 21 of 24

Anonymous

What you're gonna achieve with such practices is that, the now easy-to-get-around methods of advertising will be replaced by not-so-easy-to-get-rid-of advertisements.

Anonymous

What you're gonna achieve with such practices is that, the now easy-to-get-around methods of advertising will be replaced by not-so-easy-to-get-rid-of advertisements.

privacychooser

I created a wizard to opt you out of behavioral tracking by dozens of ad networks, including Google, Yahoo! and AOL. Please try it out: http://www.privacychoice.net Let me know what you think!

privacychooser

I created a wizard to opt you out of behavioral tracking by dozens of ad networks, including Google, Yahoo! and AOL. Please try it out: http://www.privacychoice.net Let me know what you think!

10 heart, 1 for...

I applaud activism and honestly think we should allow our actions to be guided more by principles and less by greed. However - this is how it works: 1. YOU SAY Google does not have the right to gather personal data about you. WRONG: legally, they have that right. You are on their site, you follow their rules. The real moral issue here is how they should use that data. The central tenet is that it should not be abused. Most objective observers would agree that up until now, google have not abused user data, but have actually fought the courts to preserve it from government. Here you might ask: why would they do that? Because it is central to their business... if people go on Google and fear that their data is going to be used against them, they wouldn't use google, and googles business is gone. In other words, your privacy is just as strong as Google's desire to stay in business. You decide if that is good or not. If you stop using Google, it probably will not make a difference, as something tells me you are not great online shoppers. Your real challenge then, is to stop others from using Google. For this to happen, you need a strong argument which, I am afraid to say, you still do not have. 2. YOU SAY: I don't want to pay for content through advertising, so I turn the advertising off. I hope you realize that except for a very few (and notable) exceptions, most content online is financed by advertising. Without it, that content is gone... I hope you realize that. There is no "alternative model", no "reinventing the capitalist system". Get over it and grow up - just like the rest of us. 3. So, here is my suggestion to you... Follow Google closely and report ACTUAL abuses of privacy and not those that exist only inside your own head. Be factual, be thorough, be objective and you might get heard. Make sure that Googles implicit promise to it's users to not abuse their data is kept. This way you use Google's reliance on "capitalism" as a tool to keep it honest. I realize this is less sexy than your current endevours - it actually requires work, diligence and let's face it, it does not exactly light up the weed-fog in the room. But I hope you'll learn the following lesson: there is no such thing as a free lunch (unless of course, it is sponsored by advertising). Your heart is in the right place. Now it's time for you to apply that in the real world. Welcome, and best of luck...

10 heart, 1 for...

I applaud activism and honestly think we should allow our actions to be guided more by principles and less by greed. However - this is how it works: 1. YOU SAY Google does not have the right to gather personal data about you. WRONG: legally, they have that right. You are on their site, you follow their rules. The real moral issue here is how they should use that data. The central tenet is that it should not be abused. Most objective observers would agree that up until now, google have not abused user data, but have actually fought the courts to preserve it from government. Here you might ask: why would they do that? Because it is central to their business... if people go on Google and fear that their data is going to be used against them, they wouldn't use google, and googles business is gone. In other words, your privacy is just as strong as Google's desire to stay in business. You decide if that is good or not. If you stop using Google, it probably will not make a difference, as something tells me you are not great online shoppers. Your real challenge then, is to stop others from using Google. For this to happen, you need a strong argument which, I am afraid to say, you still do not have. 2. YOU SAY: I don't want to pay for content through advertising, so I turn the advertising off. I hope you realize that except for a very few (and notable) exceptions, most content online is financed by advertising. Without it, that content is gone... I hope you realize that. There is no "alternative model", no "reinventing the capitalist system". Get over it and grow up - just like the rest of us. 3. So, here is my suggestion to you... Follow Google closely and report ACTUAL abuses of privacy and not those that exist only inside your own head. Be factual, be thorough, be objective and you might get heard. Make sure that Googles implicit promise to it's users to not abuse their data is kept. This way you use Google's reliance on "capitalism" as a tool to keep it honest. I realize this is less sexy than your current endevours - it actually requires work, diligence and let's face it, it does not exactly light up the weed-fog in the room. But I hope you'll learn the following lesson: there is no such thing as a free lunch (unless of course, it is sponsored by advertising). Your heart is in the right place. Now it's time for you to apply that in the real world. Welcome, and best of luck...

Anonymous

Capitalism is dead fool. Look around you. Think humans can't come up with any other financial systems that might possibly work better than the insane cancer of capitalism that you applaud and normalize? Really? Reeeeeeealy? Ye of little faith..

Anonymous

Capitalism is dead fool. Look around you. Think humans can't come up with any other financial systems that might possibly work better than the insane cancer of capitalism that you applaud and normalize? Really? Reeeeeeealy? Ye of little faith..

Pages

Add a new comment

Comments are closed.