A Conservative MP has been left red-faced after he sought to expose what he thought was a shameless piece of political money-spinning by Labour.
When Gavin Barwell clicked on a link tweeted by Labour and found a press release accompanied by an advertisement urging readers to “date Arab girls”, what he mistook to be questionable Labour profiteering off a dating website, actually revealed a targeted advert for his computer.
The politician wasted no time firing off a tweet, The Guardian newspaper has reported.
He tweeted: “I know Labour are short of cash but having an invitation to ‘date Arab girls’ at top of your press release?”
But Labour’s press team fired back with the reply “oh dear”, followed by a link to an explanation of how Google Adsense functions — that is, based on the preferences of a specific web user.
Google describes its Adsense functionality on its website as follows: “In addition to seeing ads based on your interests, you may also see ads based on the types of sites you visit, whether you +1 something, and more.”
The story was running on a centre-left blog, LabourList, which claimed that when its writers accessed the same press release they were greeted by an advert for a Samsung mobile phone.
The advert was posted alongside the line: “Oops…Barwell got a far more interesting advert than LabourList did”.
Other Twitter users expressed their amusement at the episode.
Jon Mundy wrote: “Oh — this is glorious, @GavinBarwellMP’s browser history comes back to bite him.”
@TeeSpirit added: “Seems a bit strange MP’s vote for The Digital Economy Act without knowing how the Internet works.”
Barwell remained silent as events unfolded online.
The original press release, posted on TwitLonger,was an attack on Michael Gove, claiming the education secretary was failing to provide enough school places for children.
Adverts featured above and below the short release, apparently tailored to the viewer’s preferences.
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