Ask.com Adds Privacy Link to Thumb Nose at Google

 
 
By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-06-19 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Seeking to make Google look bad and to curry favor with privacy advocates and government regulators, Ask.com has added a link to its privacy policy on its home page and on the landing pages across its verticals.

Ask has also added a link to its privacy policy right on its Ask About page, and is developing two separate Ask "Smart Answer" search results pages.

When a user goes to Ask.com and types in "Ask Privacy" or "Privacy" in the search box, they will get served a results page that is a one-stop shop of answers on both Ask's privacy policies and actions, as well as on privacy in general.

"No one required that we take any of these steps," Ask wrote. "We took a look at our Web pages, and realized we could make some key improvements when it came to privacy links on our service. It's simply the right thing to do for the information and awareness of our users."

The move seems aimed to make Google look bad because the search giant, which corrals 60 percent-plus of worldwide searches, has staunchly refused to bend on this point to privacy fanatics upset that Google isn't providing enough disclosure.

Ask.com may believe that if it does this, maybe Google will, too. Or maybe it believes that it will just get more people using its site for search instead of Google.

Ask.com is wrong on both accounts. First, Yahoo and Microsoft both include privacy links on their search home pages. People aren't going to start using Ask.com instead of Google because of the privacy link, just as they aren't flocking to Yahoo or Microsoft for the same reason.

I put more stock in the AskEraser button, which wipes out users' search information from Ask.com servers. That was a smart move.

Also, who in their right mind will do a search on Ask.com specifically for its privacy policy? The Oprah and Springer watchers worried about who will see those cooking recipes they've searched for?

No one cares. Not about Ask.com. Not anymore. The company has, at best, a 5-percent search share. It may not be losing share like Microsoft Live Search, but it isn't gaining, either.

Adding a privacy link so late in the game is a cheap way to curry favor with some influential privacy watchdogs, which frankly aren't influential enough to make Google bend.

 
 
 
 
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