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With Gmail Man spoof, Microsoft assails Google privacy policy (+video)

Gmail Man is here, and he's looking at your private messages. Microsoft's new ad takes some humorous jabs at Google's free mail service. 

By Matthew Shaer / February 3, 2012

The new Gmail Man video spoofs Google's new privacy policy. Here, a still from the Gmail Man video.



The war of words between Google and Microsoft just got a little bit hotter. 

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Horizons readers will remember that earlier this year, Google unveiled a new, streamlined terms of service and privacy policy. The updated policy is a piece of a wider – and extremely controversial – Google initiative called Search Plus Your World, which mixes standard search results with information plucked from sources such as Google+ and Gmail

Critics have cried foul. Users have complained. And now Microsoft, Google's longtime competitor, is piling on, as well. Meet "Gmail Man," the spoof character introduced in the Microsoft-made video below. The funny video leaked last summer, but it's back now with Microsoft's official blessing. Gmail Man, according to the video, is "everywhere and nowhere at the same time" – he probes "all your sentences and punctuation" and he has "his nose in every colon and situation." 

He is a walking embodiment, in other words, of one particular view of Google's perceived overreach. Of course, as the team at The Verge notes, Microsoft's attack strategy is hardly confined to the Gmail Man clip. In addition, the company has taken out a string of ads in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, among other publications, assailing the Google privacy makeover. 

"The way [Google is] doing it is making it harder for you to maintain control of your personal information," reads one of the advertisements. "Why are they so interested in doing this that they would risk this kind of backlash? One logical reason: Every data point they collect and connect to you increases how valuable you are to an advertiser."

Google, for its part, has offered up a detailed "myth busting" post on its public policy blog. "We’ve always believed the facts should inform our marketing – and that it’s best to focus on our users rather than negative attacks on other companies," the post reads. 

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