If you’re a Safari user, Microsoft is urging you to use Bing because Google doesn’t take your privacy seriously. No, I’m not joking, take a look at this webpage, which appears to be a new Bing landing page for Safari users: bing.com/privacy-protection.
The saga dates back to February 2012, when a report suggested Google overrode Safari’s security and privacy settings to track Internet usage of the browser’s users. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) got involved, and, following an investigation into the issue, it fined Google a record $22.5 million for the Safari breach. The search giant agreed to pay up last month.
Microsoft is keen to make sure that no-one forgets this, let alone Safari users, and the page summarizes the events that took place:
- Google promised it would not track Safari users.
- Google broke its promise and tracked Safari users without their permission.
- Google used this improperly obtained information to target ads for profit.
- The FTC took action against Google in the form of a record $22.5 million penalty.
The fifth step is simple: you should try Bing. When you click the big orange button, it runs a Bing search for “google record ftc fine.” Interestingly, the string of that URL has “SAFARITEST” and “SAFARI_BING_BUTTON,” which shows that the company is focused on converting Safari users with this campaign – which makes sense. Unfortunately, Microsoft can’t get this landing page to appear when Safari users actually visit Google, which is where it would really be useful.
In fact, it’s not clear right now how the company is pushing, or is planning to push, users to the landing page (we haven’t found any in-bound links, save for a Hacker News submission and a DZone submission). It is clear, however, that Microsoft is looking to go directly after Google here, which certainly wouldn’t be the first time.
So, when did this page go live? Well, Google was officially ordered to pay the FTC fine on August 10, 2012. A Google cache of the privacy page dates back to September 14, 2012. I would thus bet that somewhere between those two dates, Microsoft put together the webpage and started displaying the following message to anyone who stumbles on it:
If you are a Safari user, Google may have recently tracked you even though it promised it would not. Want to do something about it? Stop searching with Google and start searching with Bing. Better yet, make Bing your homepage and start every search with Bing.
I have contacted Microsoft for more information about this Google-Safari privacy page on Bing. I will update you if and when I hear back.
Image credit: Microsoft
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