Google has plans to compile psychological profiles of millions of web users by covertly monitoring the way they play online games.
The company thinks it can glean information about an individual’s preferences and personality type by tracking his or her online behaviour, which could then be sold to advertisers.
Details such as whether a person is more likely to be aggressive, hostile or dishonest could be stored for future use, it says.
The move is intended to customise advertisements shown to players of online video games by tailoring them to specific tastes and interests. But it has worried privacy campaigners who say the implications of compiling and storing such detailed information are alarming.
The plans are detailed in a patent filed by Google in Europe and the US last month. It says people playing online role-playing games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft would be good to target, because they interact with other players and make decisions that probably reflect their behaviour in real life. The information could be used to make advertisements that appear inside the game more “relevant to the user”, Google says.
Players who spend a lot of time exploring “may be interested in vacations, so the system may show ads for vacations”. And those who spend more time talking to other characters will see advertisement for mobile phones.
The patent says Google could also monitor people playing on any game console that hooks up to the internet, including the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox. It says information could be retrieved from previous game details saved on memory cards.
Related Links: Google.com