IRCTC User Complains About 'Obscene, Vulgar Ads'. This Was Its Response.

RailwaySeva told complainant that online advertisements depended on the personal browsing history of a user.

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IRCTC User Complains About 'Obscene, Vulgar Ads'. This Was Its Response.

An Indian railways passengers support Twitter handle Wednesday asked a user to delete his Internet search history, responding to his complaint that "vulgar and obscene" advertisements popped up on IRCTC's ticket booking app.

The Indian Railways Seva handle (@RailwaySeva), which was set up in December 2017 for passenger support, also educated the complainant that online advertisements depended on the personal browsing history of a user.

"Obscene and vulgar ads are very frequently appearing on the IRCTC ticket booking app. This is very embarrassing and irritating," the complainant wrote. The user also tagged official Twitter handles of the Railways Minister, IRCTC and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal's office in the tweet made at 4.15pm.

Responding to the complaint, the Indian Railways Seva tweeted, "IRCTC uses Googles ad serving tool ADX for serving ads. These ads uses cookies to target the user. Based on user history and browsing behaviour ads are shown. Pl clean and delete all browser cookies and history to avoid such ads. - IRCTC Official"

Cyber expert Jiten Jain said online ads largely depended on a user's ad preferences and the kind of content browsed through a particular device. "And the users themselves give Google the permission to show such ads when they agree to their terms and conditions while subscribing to its services. Although it is not 100 per cent, because in some cases Google also puts forth some ads on its own online," Jain told PTI.

By 10:20am on Thursday, the Indian Railways Seva's tweet was liked by over 18,950 users and retweeted over 7,100 times. The handle generally provides support to railway users on queries related to timings, PNR issues or concerns with cleanliness or food on trains.

On its support website, Google states that ads should respect user preferences and comply with legal regulations, so it does not allow certain kinds of adult content in ads and destinations. "Some kinds of adult-oriented ads and destinations are allowed if they comply with the policies below and don't target minors, but they will only show in limited scenarios based on user search queries, user age, and local laws where the ad is being served," it says.

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Further reading: IRCTC, Google, ADX
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