WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- The two major U.S. presidential candidates are using Internet search habits to send targeted advertisements, experts say.
When Internet readers last week clicked on a Boston Herald tidbit about whether Amanda Beard is dating fellow Olympian Michael Phelps, different ads appeared next to the story, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
For readers who had visited Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama's Web site received as many as three Obama ads alongside the story, while readers who hadn't visited his site didn't see a single Obama ad.
The newspaper reported that Internet companies such as Yahoo and Microsoft are able to target advertising based on, among other things, articles people read, blogs they frequent and the Web sites they have visited.
"During a get-out-the-vote drive, you don't want to get out the wrong vote," said Diane Rinaldo, political advertising director at Yahoo, which has worked with the Obama campaign and that of Republican John McCain.
Jeffrey Chester with the Center for Digital Democracy said there is a "dark underside" to how targeted Web advertising works.
"Yes, you can reach everyone -- but you can track, target and profile them as well, and none of this is disclosed," he was quoted as saying.