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Ads With Your Name On Them 153

Posted by kdawson
from the are-you-creeped-out-yet dept.
eldavojohn writes "The NYTimes is running an interesting blog piece on the answers Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, & Google gave to the question: Can they show you an ad with your name on it? The results: 'Microsoft says it could use only a person's first name [which it doesn't consider personal information]. AOL and Yahoo could use a full name but only on their sites, not the other sites on which they place ads. Google isn't sure; it probably could, but it doesn't know the names of most of its users.' Now whether or not they would use this information is a different story. AOL has no plans to, Yahoo is open to it, and Microsoft has implemented a technological barrier preventing it (despite behavioral and demographic data being served to the ad companies). Although Google might use name information at some point, they don't now do so; nor do they use behavioral or demographic data."
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Ads With Your Name On Them

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  • Mobil card (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Intron (870560) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:33PM (#22722324)
    Exxxxxon/Mobil gas pumps used to put your name up when you used your credit card to buy gas. Not for any reason, just because they could. I felt it was intrusive, since anybody at a neighboring pump now knows my name, but kind of a minor annoyance.
    • by eht (8912)
      But they can't look at your windshield and see your car registration with your name on it? And probably a lot more identifying info, like address and so forth?
      • by LMacG (118321)
        Not anywhere I've lived in the US they can't. AFAIK, there's no requirement to have the registration card in plain sight; mine stays in the "glove" box.
  • by nebaz (453974) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:33PM (#22722326)
    Several years ago I was surfing some non-amazon related site, and there was an add at the bottom from amazon, with my name on it (presumably a amazon hosted ad that looked at my cookie information). Really freaked me out. I haven't seen anything like this for a while though.
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)
      Amazon still does it. I saw it happen last week.
    • by Verteiron (224042)
      That was my first thought as well, although I think I've only seen my name on the Amazon "Donate to this site" buttons that some people use alongside Paypal.
    • by misleb (129952) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:49PM (#22722494)
      First time I saw "personals" ads on a web page that seemed to know what city I lived in, I kinda freaked.

      "Meet sexy singles in [your town]." And then it shows some "example" profiles of some women who are most likely just models. Then I look closer and I think "Oh my God, I've slept with these women! How did they know?" Then I realized that they just got my location from my IP and that I've slept with pretty much all the attractive women around here so it didn't really matter which ones they chose.

      Good news is that it reminded me to go get tested for STDs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        When I'm on the internet at work my IP address is one registered to my company's parent company in a different state, not even close to my actual location. So I see all these ads telling me what great deals I can get on real estate, insurance, and bachelor's degrees in this other little town I have never even been to.
        I get a certain perverted kind of pleasure from that!
        • by Torvaun (1040898)
          It gets even better if you use Tor. They tell me about hot singles in -countries- I've never been in.
        • Forget different state.
          Talk about a different country.
          The bank i used to work for, had its router in Hongkong.
          It was really fun to watch ads by google in native chinese (mandarin) talking about a concert, etc.
          It was more fun to watch yahoo trying the same and giving me a good laugh.
          It worked for a while until i tried news.google.com and got redirected to HK news website.
          • by 1u3hr (530656)
            The bank i used to work for, had its router in Hongkong. It was really fun to watch ads by google in native chinese (mandarin) talking about a concert, etc.

            In Hong Kong the "native" language is Cantonese.

            I live there, and am amused sometimes by the sleazy dating ads that show underdressed blonde bimbos under text like "Girls in To Kwa Wan who want to f***".

            • "Girls in To Kwa Wan who want to f***".
              is THAT what they mean???
              No wonder an IT support guy from hongkong called me to question my browsing habits...
              And my teacher was right: I should have learnt a second language...
              • by 1u3hr (530656)
                is THAT what they mean???

                Well, yes. But I also get lots of ads in English -- my point was that there are not a lot of blonde bimbos in Hong Kong, and it's painfully obvious few if any of the "girls near you" are on the same continent.

                • by misleb (129952)
                  I, for one, wouldn't mind if the girls they showed me were from another continent... particularly yours. ;-)
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        First time I saw "personals" ads on a web page that seemed to know what city I lived in, I kinda freaked.

        "Meet sexy singles in [your town]." And then it shows some "example" profiles of some women who are most likely just models. Then I look closer and I think "Oh my God, I've slept with these women! How did they know?" Then I realized that they just got my location from my IP and that I've slept with pretty much all the slutty women around here so it didn't really matter which ones they chose.

        Good news is that it reminded me to go get tested for STDs.

        There, fixed that for ya.

      • by Guppy06 (410832)
        "Meet sexy singles in [your town]."

        That's the funny thing: the few times I'm browsing without AdBlock, I see those ads, and I ask myself "Why would I want to meet sexy singles that live over an hour away from me?" I'm sorry, fly-by-night singles service, but no sex is worth spending that much time on I-4 just to get it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Otter (3800)
      Yeah, I get those Amazon ads all the time and am surprised that no one among the author, interviewees, NYT editor, /. editor and submitter saw this topic and immediately thought "Amazon!"

      Anyway, while it freaked me out too the first (and still kind of does) it's not like they know anything that any other retailer with cookies doesn't know. It seems like unnecessarily off-putting advertising though.

    • by rtb61 (674572)
      Well the add technically worked. The whole idea of using your name is to draw your attention to the add as you are already subconsciously keyed to look out for and be aware of the use of your name.

      Now the big catch with this is, it shifts it from being a passive add to more like being a door to door salesperson, someone that specifically invades your personal private space, which is of course why you react to it as being invasive. So if you have a positive relationship already established with the company

  • Sounds scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flaming error (1041742) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:34PM (#22722346) Journal
    But the real problem isn't that they can *show* who you are, it's that they *know* who you are.

    Showing it would just be disclosing our already existing vulnerability.
    • by XaXXon (202882) <xaxxon@gmaiCHEETAHl.com minus cat> on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:41PM (#22722406) Homepage
      Exactly. That's why they're not going to do this. They don't want you knowing that they know who you are. Unless of course they know you know they know who you are.
      • Re:Sounds scary (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @05:48PM (#22723020)
        A couple of my credit card companies did this (call me by name when they answered the phone) for a while. It REALLY bugged me. Not that they knew my name, but that they assumed that my work phone number, used by a whole room full of people, was always me calling.

        They stopped. I asked why, and they said it really creeped their customers out.

        • Re:Sounds scary (Score:4, Informative)

          by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:24PM (#22723304)
          Also, answering with the person's name eliminates an identity confirmation opportunity. Hell, I expect the place where I order pizza delivery to know my name and associate my phone number from Caller ID to my name automatically, but I'd like them to take notice if someone else orders a pizza from my phone and the names don't match.

          Not that if someone broke into my home or faked the CLID to order pizza wouldn't know my name, or that they'd even care. But leave the opportunity for a stupid criminal to be stupid:

          The phone rang. He stopped the tape and answered it, then almost dropped the phone like an electric eel as he realized what he was doing. Hardly daring to breathe, he held the telephone to his ear.

          "Rule One in housebreaking," said a voice. "Never answer the telephone when you're in the middle of a job. Who are you supposed to be, for heaven's sake?"

          Richard froze. It was a moment or two before he could find where he had put his voice.

          "Who is this?" he demanded at last in a whisper.

          "Rule Two," continued the voice. "Preparation. Bring the right tools. Bring gloves. Try to have the faintest glimmering of an idea of what you're about before you start dangling from window ledges in the middle of the night.

          "Rule Three. Never forget Rule Two."

          "Who is this?" exclaimed Richard again.

          The voice was unperturbed. "Neighborhood Watch," it said. "If you just look out of the back window you'll see..."

          Trailing the phone, Richard hurried over to the window and looked out. A distant flash startled him.

          "Rule Four. Never stand where you can be photographed.

          "Rule Five... Are you listening to me, MacDuff?"

          "What? Yes..." said Richard in bewilderment. "How do you know me?"

          "Rule Five. Never admit to your name."

          Richard stood silent, breathing hard.

          "I run a little course," said the voice, "if you're interested..."

          Richard said nothing.

          "You're learning," continued the voice, "slowly, but you're learning. If you were learning fast you would have put the phone down by now, of course. But you're curious - and incompetent - and so you don't. I don't run a course for novice burglars as it happens, tempting though the idea is. I'm sure there would be grants available. If we have to have them they may as well be trained.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by FLEB (312391)
          Bingo. Although I don't think there's a solidly backable one-way-or-the-other legal or ethical stance on this (realistically, it's not much of a "privacy violation" at all), I just can't see it being an effective method of advertising. It just creeps a person out when someone they don't know jumps in and starts acting like an old chum, especially when it's clear that they know nothing about you except your name off a list.
      • by WK2 (1072560)
        I do know they know who I am. Even if they know I know they know (which they should), they should know that creeping people out is not a good marketing plan. One of the reasons I feel good about blocking advertisements with adblock plus is behavior like this (though not this behavior specifically).
    • yes that's assuming that they have any clue. unless it absolutely positively cannot possibly be avoided [paying bills for one] why link anything about you to an online profile????? I really don't know how people can enter their actual information and be utterly shocked that it is possible to serve ads with your name on it... what they don't know can't be used.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hoplite3 (671379)
      Exactly. If they put up an ad with my name on it, it would freak me out. I wouldn't exactly be racing to buy stuff.

      If the advertiser reveals how well he knows me, he's making me uncomfortable. It's like some stranger knocking on your door an inquiring about the health of your child. It sounds like a threat, or at least establishes an asymmetric relationship (they know more about you than you do about them).
  • Coming Soon ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daveime (1253762) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:34PM (#22722350)
    Well now that the EU have approved the Google / Doubleclick merger, expect ads VERY soon with your name on them ... and possibly a lot more.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by daveime (1253762)
      I've gone from 0 offtopic to -1 troll in a matter of minutes ?

      I know I'm new here, but can someone explain how a comment about the Google / Doubleclick merger could possibly be offtopic, when the topic is about whether Google (and others) would serve ads with your personal details on them ???

      As for troll ? Erm, well ...

      Do you just get a handful of mod points and play pin the tail on the donkey with them ?
      • you just get a handful of mod points and play pin the tail on the donkey with them


        That's the best overview of slashdot's moderation system that I've seen in a while. Taco should update the faqs with it.
  • Cheers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheMeuge (645043) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:35PM (#22722356)
    A. Let's go ahead and tag it "sometimesyouwanttogowhereeverybodyknowsyourname"

    B. Google certainly can show me my name in the ad. Certainly it knows which gmail account I use, and the name on that. It also knows what billing name I used for my Google Checkout purchases. Similar ways of identifying users apply to the other companies. What worries me, is seeing my name on an ad served by somebody I did NOT share my name with.
  • by Kamineko (851857) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:36PM (#22722362)
    Will slashdot implement a form of this as a replacement for the CowbowNeal option?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Kdawson
    We have an offer you simply cannot refuse! Kdawson, if you will just submit your name to us, we can use your real name in our ads instead of this silly Slashdot nick for just a one-time fee of $59.95! Get our your checkbook or credit card and call or visit our website today!
  • This reminds me of the old BBS days. Someone would figure out the BBS code for displaying variables, and start posting messages with stupid things like "If your name is on this list, you will be banned: Joe, Frank123, [$name], ...".

    The computer doesn't know your name. It echoes a variable.

    • by FLEB (312391)
      That reminds me of the (not-as-old) IRC days. Our local ISP gave you the full name of the account-holder by Fingering the email address (that or the individual IP/DNS address-- which makes more sense, come to think about it), and we'd get people all edgy by running a reverse-lookup and rattling off all their personal info on IRC.

      (Hey, a lot of people were dumb, 15, and on the Internet once. Don't look so smug.)
  • I could see some sort of username/nickname, but not my personal name. My personal name, even only my first, would be creepy and I'd probably have to start supplying false names for it. However, I would crack-up with laughter everytime I read an ad like "Dr. Eggman, click here to stop your pest problems today!"
    • by FLEB (312391)
      I don't know how common it is, but I personally maintain a rather complete mental separation between my online and offline names-- I've used FLEB openly and most everywhere for the last 10-15 years, so it's about as descriptive as anyone else's real name (not to mention that it's easily correlated to my real name with a couple Google searches), so it's not like I'm hiding anything or trying to stay anonymous, but I still get edgy about people who converse with real names online (there're a couple forums I f
  • Or, they could simply take shots in the dark against the most common names.

    Worth a try.

    John Smith: This is a message directed for you, and only you. Yes -you-, John Smith. Buy my snake oil! It cures everything, even *that* special problem. Only $99.
  • Since I got modded down for an earlier overlord comment (Though, it's not like I'm hurting for Karma) I'll just say that this could be very much like in the movie mentioned in the subject of this post. On the other hand, It's not like it's a real suprise that advertisers get to know you, and, I'm not sure I'd be too upset by it. I mean, when Yahoo mail greets me by first name, I don't get worked up by it, nor when several other services do it. And this would just be a logical extention.
  • Thats just annoying, not to mention most people I know go buy a nick name anyway.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hedwards (940851)
      I don't think that annoying is quite the right word.

      Excellent vector for phishing, perhaps. Great way to devalue a person's name; almost assuredly. Great opportunity to figure out which sites are handing over my person all information; definitely.

      If this sort of thing does happen, I'm going to start using a different handle for each site that I join, and then refuse to do business with whichever sites are providing my information to the sort of sleaze that would use my personal information to address me via
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Thats just annoying, not to mention most people I know go buy a nick name anyway.

      Really? Most people I know just select one for free. Your friends must have more money than mine...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by aca_broj_1 (1034904)
      Tell your friends I'll sell them the same brand nicknames for 35% off retail price. I also offer an extended warranty for $29.99.
  • by infonography (566403) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:40PM (#22722400) Homepage
    Granted, I was very un-hopeful when that flick came out, on the one hand, Philip K. Dick, on the other three (and both legs and much of the torso) was Tom Cruise. Still the personalized ads bit was there. Funny how they offered him pink clothing.

    Roflmao
  • Click Here To Claim Your Valuable Prize!

  • Screw them... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by apathy maybe (922212) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:43PM (#22722428) Homepage Journal
    I don't care if they have ads (that I can't see) addressing me with names that aren't mine.

    I do however, care about those people who are less technologically capable, and less privacy conscious being tricked into clicking on ads because they think it is from a friend or whatever (when reading emails especially).

    Just because I rarely give out my real name on the web, doesn't mean that there are people who use their real name for everything and don't mind giving it to everyone.

    And that's the problem. This won't matter for most people on Slashdot, but it will matter to at least minority of people. And the people with knowledge should promote that knowledge, we should fight against this sort of thing.

    (Actually, I suspect that there are a number of people who would get rather angry being addressed by their name when looking at ads. Imagine your TV saying "Hey Joe, I've got a great new beer for you to taste!" or "Hey Joe, I've got a great new computer bit", most people I know would get angry at that. Meh, now I'm starting to ramble.)
  • by verbalcontract (909922) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:46PM (#22722464)

    And I've written text-based ads for Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc.

    But I can't imagine anyone would want to purchase a product based on an ad with their name on it. "Hey Morley! Buy some laundry detergent!" I'd get freaked out, and I'd forever associate that creepy feeling with the product. And I'd never buy it.

    I imagine most people would feel the same way. And I imagine most copywriters -- who are less like the oily marketeers you're thinking of -- would feel the same.

    I say, if some oily marketeer wants to use this feature -- and it is only at most my first name -- he deserves to scare off his customers.

  • "Hi, Cro! I have some V!aGra for you for only $9.95. And for an extra $4.99, I'll throw in some hygine products for Mrs. Magnon"
  • by Marc_Hawke (130338) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:50PM (#22722516)
    I imagine a crafted ad would be quite effective (although misleading). We've all gotten the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes where they call us by name and say we won. Remember back to the first time, and you can know what it would be like to have that happen online.

    One time on the news site forum I frequent they did that. The news posting/headline used a little trick to display who you were logged in as. Everyone assumed that the story was actually about them. The forums were chaos until everyone figured it out, and through-out the day new people would hurriedly make a comment and then get modded 'redundant' by everyone else.

    Even though it was a simple echo of your login-name and not some great technical trick, it was effective enough to give everyone a bit of a startle.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Itninja (937614)
      I love those becasue my first name is legally C. (it's a long story). I love getting junk mail addressed to C.

      "Act now! You could get a check made out to C. today!"
      • by FLEB (312391)
        I get plenty of junk mail addressed to "Rudy Fleminger, Master of All He Surveys", and "Destroyer of Worlds, Creator of Design", after signing onto something or other with those "company names". Mostly American Express business credit offers.

        I personally liked "Rudy Fleminger: NEVER EAT THIS!", but those tapered off pretty quickly.
      • by Blkdeath (530393)

        I love those becasue my first name is legally C. (it's a long story). I love getting junk mail addressed to C.

        I've had a few customers with legal first names that are only a single letter and I'm curious to know what's the story behind that? I have a suspicion, but I'd like to hear it more direct before I open my fool mouth. :)

        I was passed a file for a customer whose legal first name was 'T' and there was a bit of awkwardness in the beginning because I didn't quite know what to call her and Mrs. Long Last Name I'd Probably Mispronounce didn't seem appropriate.

        "Act now! You could get a check made out to C. today!"

        Ugh. I don't have such a first name but those mail

        • by Itninja (937614)
          I have the C. because I have gone by my middle name since I was three days old. But my first name (what C. originally stood for) would always appear on legal documents. This became more and more annoying until I finally just paid the $80 and had it changed to C.
      • Dr. Koop [wikipedia.org], is that you? You weren't my favorite surgeon general, but it's nice to meet you nonetheless!
    • by T-Bone-T (1048702)
      I haven't gotten anything like that, but I have gotten marketing letters addressed to and greeting Informed Consumer and things like that. It is really retarded.
  • So they can run an advertisement that I don't see that has my name on it? When ads are outlawed, only outlaws will have ads. It's madness I tell you. Madness.
    • When ads are outlawed, only outlaws will have ads. It's madness I tell you. Madness.
      Madness??
      THIS
      IS
      DOUBLECLICK!!!

      (ducks)
  • by SeaFox (739806) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:57PM (#22722570)
    I already am slightly unnerved when ads for dating sites and such already know where I am, and that doesn't even require a cookie generally.
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @05:12PM (#22722722) Journal
      Which in my case screwed it up since with my old ISP it used to be correct, but not with my new one. Apparently I live in some small village, not the city.

      And yes, it makes a difference, these ads are HORRIBEL and anyone with a brain will know that they are ALL scams, how come there are only attractive women near you?

      But the naming of your home town makes it seems more legit. It is afterall how confidence tricksters work, by finding stuff out that you somehow let them know but using it in the right way to make you believe they really know you.

  • As soon as they pay me for the use of my name.

    We take our names seriously here at the Desperation compound. Why just the other day my brothers, Utter and Six-Degrees-Of, were talking about hunting down some of those there mappers for using their email addresses. But then they had to chase away from revenooers and got all distracted like.
  • I remember the early ISP days of MSN and their portal package 'MSN Explorer'. Whenever you would log in it would play an audio file of a woman gently saying 'good morning', 'good evening', etc. After I had registered and used it for a few days, it started adding my name to the end of the greeting (i.e. good afternoon Tim). It was creepy to say the least. Of course, I immeadiately change my profile to show my first name as Dick. The software then obediently started calling me a dick several times a day (whi
    • by Spacejock (727523)
      OT, but I remember the first time the game 'Black and White' whispered my name in a ghostly voice. It scared the bejeesus out of me, and I can still remember the way my hackles went up. Cute trick though.
      • by WeeLad (588414)
        Is your name "Death"? I don't remember this at all from 'Black and White'. What was their trick?
  • Did anybody ever think we would ever live to see a list of several entities, and be able to say that Microsoft is being the least evil?
  • I feel bad for anyone with a funny name or nick-name getting targeted with these ads: "Has anyone ever said, 'Let's help Jack off this bench?' Perhaps you have Osteoporosis." "Have you ever wanted to feel bigger, Dick? Hair transplants are the way to go!" "Google ads reach over 100,000,000 people a day. Can you service that many people, Hore?"
  • by stokessd (89903) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @05:36PM (#22722920) Homepage
    they could be doing it now for all I know. Between adblock, flashblock, and spam filtering I don't see many ads at all. Actually with the DVR at home ads anywhere are a rarity in my life. Maybe they should advertise during the superbowl...

    Sheldon
  • Seriously, if AOL can actually identify its users, you think advertisers would run to another site? nah... holy grail
  • Where are they pulling the info from? Are they, for example, using the "name" I enter when prompted to while installing Windoze?

    "Type your full name and press enter"

    OK...y-o-u-r...f-u-l-l...n-a-m-e...
  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:33PM (#22723800)
    It's interesting that the Evil Scale on this issue is now

    1 (Least Evil): Microsoft (implements tech. barriers)
    2 : AOL (no barriers, no plans)
    3 : Yahoo (no barriers, shows interest)
    4 (Most Evil): Google (no barriers, no comment, lots of extra available data)

    If we assume that companies think Evil is a negative for business, this suggests that Google and Yahoo are getting complacent, while Microsoft is working pretty hard again to woo customers and improve its market position.

  • You know it's true, ${FIRSTNAME}.
  • What about cultures where the first name is the surname? How are these companies going to assure those (billions of) individuals that their identifiable name is not being sold?
  • "You Can't" (Score:4, Funny)

    by greyhueofdoubt (1159527) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @08:51PM (#22724324) Homepage Journal
    I'll change all my user names to "Your Can't". That way I'll know which ads are useless.

    "You Can't find everything you need at carpet warehouse!"

    "You Can't find 'quadratic equation' and anything else on eBay!"

    I hate those eBay ads that just take your google search input to serve in the ad. Apparently eBay will sell you entire cities.

    -b
  • First thing I thought of was an old Adbusters magazine cover.

    http://www.dianefarrisgallery.com/artist/woods/ex00/images/02.jpg [dianefarrisgallery.com]
  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:49PM (#22724982)

    [Google] doesn't know the names of most of its users.
    That's cute, real cute. I'm pretty sure Google knows more about me than anyone in my life. They know my name from Gmail and they've confirmed it with Google Checkout. They got my address there and know it's the same street I use as an origin when getting directions on Google Maps. They also know all the alternate emails I use that forward into Gmail. They follow my Slashdot usage because Gmail gets notified when someone replies to one of my posts. They learn about all my online purchases that way too. They recently learned more about my web endeavors thanks to Google Analytics.

    They know countless random topics that have popped into my head, because the first thing I do is to Google them. This has taught them all sorts of things about my personality and interests, including topics I might keep private from most everyone I know. When I go to Google News they learn about what events catch my attention. They know I still only click on a Google Ad every few months, but that hasn't stopped them from showing ads every chance they get. And of course, they've got Doubleclick now just on the off chance that I might be visiting a site they don't cover or that I might click on an ad they didn't provide.

    I didn't even mention Picasa or Google Earth. And if that's not enough, just imagine what they'll know once they get a piece of the internet backbone.

    No offense to the Googlebot reading this!
  • by nguy (1207026)
    Google isn't sure; it probably could, but it doesn't know the names of most of its users

    They ask for your name when you register, so if they can tie your account to an ad, they can tie your name to any ad. Of course, people who sign up may simply not be giving their correct name, but that's not due to any Google privacy policy.

    Microsoft says it could use only a person's first name. AOL and Yahoo could use a full name but only on their sites,

    That's bullshit. Like Google, they ask the user for their full nam

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