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Ads are the bane of an online user’s existence – well, one of them, at least. While I do not fancy ads myself, I... Microsoft Allegedly Mining User Data To Serve Targeted Political Ads

Ads are the bane of an online user’s existence – well, one of them, at least. While I do not fancy ads myself, I haven’t gone as far as using an ad blocker, which many online pros use – quite understandably. I think they’re a necessary evil to some degree, but when it comes to political ads, my aversion is a tad stronger. And that’s what Microsoft is allegedly working on.

The Washington Post says that “Microsoft is using your data to target political ads on Xbox Live”, as well as other Microsoft products such as Skype and MSN. This news comes as the midterm elections come nearer.

targeted political ads

So much for Microsoft’s efforts at transparency, huh?

Supposedly, Microsoft is going to use user IDs and other public data to compile profiles of its users. Based on these profiles, targeted political ads are going to be displayed on the Xbox Live dashboard, as well as other products.

When IGN published an article on the topic, Microsoft decided to make its side heard, though, and says that they do value the privacy of their users and that consumers have the choice to opt out of targeted ads. A snippet of their statement:

Xbox Advertising offers behavioral targeting to advertisers in the U.S. and in the U.K, helping advertisers reach audiences based on their game play activity. For example, in the U.S. we have standard behavioral targeting based on a consumer’s interests in the following segments:  Action/Shooter, Racing, Sports, Kinect, and Music.  Users must have played any game falling into one of these genres to be included in the targeting segment. In the U.K., we provide targeting by Action/Shooter, Racing, and Sports segments.

The statement ends with “Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE do not use any information captured by Kinect for advertising targeting purposes.” Basically, I interpret that as a denial that they are going to use data from Kinect for targeted ads – political or otherwise. But what about data NOT from Kinect?

Xbox – and Microsoft products in general – users, how do you feel about the allegations and Microsoft’s response?

[Image via Mack Male]