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

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240 comments on the article “Unclick Google”

Displaying 221 - 230 of 240

Page 23 of 24

stars071172

My personal site would be dead without Google and its advertising that bring me in revenues. There is no other way to effectively market my business without spending tons of $$$. Until something better comes along I'm sticking with Google.

stars071172

My personal site would be dead without Google and its advertising that bring me in revenues. There is no other way to effectively market my business without spending tons of $$$. Until something better comes along I'm sticking with Google.

Mike

Isn't there a point where we have all given away our anonymity? I don't live in a bubble. People see my actions everyday. I can't hide in a stealth robe and sneak around not being noticed. Do I cherish being "spied" upon by "evil" corporations or gov't? No. But, I am not naive enough to believe that I can live a completely anonymous life without becoming hermetically sealed from the rest of the world. I am here right now and you are reading my thoughts. If you are a talented enough hacker or techie, of which I am neither, you probably could figure out exactly who I am. The only real way in my mind and eyes that one can live in a world in anonymity on the internet is to not use it at all. Or, live a completely false life as someone whom you are not. I share space with my neighbors, they can look out their window and see me coming home from the grocery store and know that I have bought something, yet they do not know what it is that I purchased unless they are so curious as to go through my recycling and garbage. If that is what trips their trigger then there is not much I can do about it because I am not going to stand 24 hour vigil over something I am discarding. As others have stated, I acknowledge that Google, Yahoo, etc. will and do have access to the things I look at on the internet. If they really are trying to figure out what type of person I am I would like to think they find me interesting. How many Ukulele playing traditional bow-hunting mountain biking Scrabble obsessive people are there out there? In regards to the rights of privacy, if you agreed to use their product then as has been stated you have accepted their practice no matter how egregious you find them in hindsight. The question you have to ask is did you read the disclaimers before you clicked the accept button. (I am pretty certain this doesn't exist on Google, so it is a piss poor example.) I know that I often just go ahead and click. I accept the consequences as I am responsible for my own actions. This article and its ilk point out the hypocrisy that does exist in the elitist activist ideal that everything is evil unless it is alternative to the status quo. Google and its brethren are useful and effective tools that millions use everyday. This seems to be an exercise in futility to some extent. I guess what ever it takes to justify wearing the "Che" t-shirt and not bathing for several days and eating another highly processed vegan meal. Critical skepticism in an important tool in life and survival. But, protest for the sake of protest because there is nothing better to do is pointless.

Mike

Isn't there a point where we have all given away our anonymity? I don't live in a bubble. People see my actions everyday. I can't hide in a stealth robe and sneak around not being noticed. Do I cherish being "spied" upon by "evil" corporations or gov't? No. But, I am not naive enough to believe that I can live a completely anonymous life without becoming hermetically sealed from the rest of the world. I am here right now and you are reading my thoughts. If you are a talented enough hacker or techie, of which I am neither, you probably could figure out exactly who I am. The only real way in my mind and eyes that one can live in a world in anonymity on the internet is to not use it at all. Or, live a completely false life as someone whom you are not. I share space with my neighbors, they can look out their window and see me coming home from the grocery store and know that I have bought something, yet they do not know what it is that I purchased unless they are so curious as to go through my recycling and garbage. If that is what trips their trigger then there is not much I can do about it because I am not going to stand 24 hour vigil over something I am discarding. As others have stated, I acknowledge that Google, Yahoo, etc. will and do have access to the things I look at on the internet. If they really are trying to figure out what type of person I am I would like to think they find me interesting. How many Ukulele playing traditional bow-hunting mountain biking Scrabble obsessive people are there out there? In regards to the rights of privacy, if you agreed to use their product then as has been stated you have accepted their practice no matter how egregious you find them in hindsight. The question you have to ask is did you read the disclaimers before you clicked the accept button. (I am pretty certain this doesn't exist on Google, so it is a piss poor example.) I know that I often just go ahead and click. I accept the consequences as I am responsible for my own actions. This article and its ilk point out the hypocrisy that does exist in the elitist activist ideal that everything is evil unless it is alternative to the status quo. Google and its brethren are useful and effective tools that millions use everyday. This seems to be an exercise in futility to some extent. I guess what ever it takes to justify wearing the "Che" t-shirt and not bathing for several days and eating another highly processed vegan meal. Critical skepticism in an important tool in life and survival. But, protest for the sake of protest because there is nothing better to do is pointless.

stereotype is boring

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. While I didn't agree, I did think that you posted a well reasoned and articulate opinion. However, you lost me entirely when you wrote derisively of the activist as "not bathing for several days and eating another highly processed vegan meal." Yes, of course this is an obvious stereotype perpetuated by the mass media and we all know a few who fit this mold, but must we keep repeating this over and over again? Is it really true to say that the average activist is like that? No it is not true. Why denigrate ourselves by accepting this false stereotype. Otherwise, I enjoyed your perspective very much.

stereotype is boring

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. While I didn't agree, I did think that you posted a well reasoned and articulate opinion. However, you lost me entirely when you wrote derisively of the activist as "not bathing for several days and eating another highly processed vegan meal." Yes, of course this is an obvious stereotype perpetuated by the mass media and we all know a few who fit this mold, but must we keep repeating this over and over again? Is it really true to say that the average activist is like that? No it is not true. Why denigrate ourselves by accepting this false stereotype. Otherwise, I enjoyed your perspective very much.

Wow

Wow. All I can say after reading comments here is - looks like this site is a target of a massive black PR campaign. Please ignore 98% of the negative comments here. This is a well-written, informative article and this new behavior of Google at tracking click-throughs of their search results is definitely a move in the wrong direction. Thank you for help making more people aware of it. I would expect there to be a Firefox plugin soon that will bypass this behavior of Google. In the meantime, there is this plugin: http://www.mrl.nyu.edu/~dhowe/trackmenot/

Wow

Wow. All I can say after reading comments here is - looks like this site is a target of a massive black PR campaign. Please ignore 98% of the negative comments here. This is a well-written, informative article and this new behavior of Google at tracking click-throughs of their search results is definitely a move in the wrong direction. Thank you for help making more people aware of it. I would expect there to be a Firefox plugin soon that will bypass this behavior of Google. In the meantime, there is this plugin: http://www.mrl.nyu.edu/~dhowe/trackmenot/

execthis

There is a better solution - install the Firefox plugin "CustomizeGoogle" and under its options menu(accessed through Tools -> Add-Ons) select "Remove click tracking" There is a similarly named plugin for Opera. You can google for the exact site.

execthis

There is a better solution - install the Firefox plugin "CustomizeGoogle" and under its options menu(accessed through Tools -> Add-Ons) select "Remove click tracking" There is a similarly named plugin for Opera. You can google for the exact site.

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