Now, for all I know, maybe they’ve done this all along, and maybe I’m just the slowest user in the world to have just noticed. But, for all that, I just noticed this.
When you receive e-mail via gmail, and the e-mail contains a link, Google modifies that link, so that Google will track when you click on it.
Note, this appears to apply to incoming e-mails RECEIVED via gmail. I don’t see this happening on outgoing e-mails SENT from gmail to elsewhere.
When you receive an e-mail with a link, Google modifies the link in situ to point to google itself instead. Example: I sent an e-mail (from yahoo mail) to my gmail address, including this link: [noparse]doggie.freeshell.org[/noparse]
The e-mail I received at gmail contains instead:
(It works the same way also whether or not the link includes the [noparse]http://[/noparse] prefix.) The visible text in the e-mail stays the same (as in the original), it’s the link hidden behind the visible text that’s hacked. So you have to be paying attention to notice.
When you click on the link, it goes to google, which briefly shows a “redirecting…” page, then you get to your originally-linked page.
So Google is snooping on the links that people send to one another, and snooping on the receiving user when he clicks on that link.
That seems to me, like a step too far. Yes, we all know that Google is trying to accumulate All The Knowledge in the Universe about all of us (with substantial success so far). But this level of spying on their users is just a step too far. (It also implies they’re spying on e-mails sent to me by other people, who have never consented to any Google terms of service.)
Can someone recommend another free on-line web-based e-mail service? (Other than yahoo, please. I have other grouses about them.) I’m willing to put up with web ads and other devices like that in return for the free service, but please, a little less outright covert spying on our e-mails. (And yes, I’ve known all along that google has always scanned our e-mails for showing those targetted ads, and I even consented to that when I signed up. But, spying on the links we send to one another, and spying when we click on those links, STILL seems like a step too far.)
I originally believed that Google did no evil. I’ve wavered on that for years, though. In recent years, I’ve become increasingly convinced that Google is Evil. Now I’m more sure of it than ever!