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Google Privacy Issues

by Jo Shaer, on January 30, 2012

google privacy issuesThere's been a lot of online chatter about Google Privacy Issues over the past few days and now they have released a video which purports to simplify their case and if you're signed in “may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience".

It's all very well Google talking about privacy but the whole subject raises a lot of issues and makes me question why I have signed up to it at all.

I cannot help thinking that there will be a lot of people like me who just checked the box so that they could get to their mail without thinking through the implications of such a rubber stamp of approval.

Google Privacy Issues

It's only as the days have passed and I have read the remarks of other commentators that I start to wonder if I have done the right thing by checking that box of acceptance.

The plain facts are that Google is actually keeping notes of our actions and activities so that it can use that knowledge to advertise to us at the very least.

But it also interferes with our ability to find the best, most correct information on the internet - something which I have always understood to be at the forefront of Google's ethos.

This morning, I was checking up on one of my clients' sites and I had to jump through several hoops in order to produce a totally unbiased screen shot of the top ten for the keyword in question.

Because I was using Google Chrome whilst logged into my gmail account, it meant that I was automatically logged into my google plus account and, therefore, my results page was being personalised.

And not just with stuff that I had looked at before but with other sites that I might have given a G+1 and also just anything who might happen to have a Google Plus page.

As I've said before about Facebook, suddenly your SERPs is being influenced by the actions and activities of other people so you have to be really careful who you choose to have as a friend on your social media profiles.

But somehow this is worse because you can't see the little faces so you don't know why you've been given that entry. It makes it much harder to sift out what's relevant and what's other people's opinion.

For both these behemoths, it's all about advertising revenue. In order to be able to sell our likes and dislikes to big business, Google and Facebook have to hold the data that we have given them during the course of our searches and interactions. And they continue to hold it even when we have decided we don't like something any more or have just made our purchase.

A friend was telling me recently how she gets the same ads for a particular clothing company every time she looks at Facebook. She has bought the item she once searched for but still they appear on her Facebook page trying to draw her back when she wants to see something new.

Watching the promotional video, it all seems innocent enough, but allowing a machine to second guess a human is always the start of the most horrendous horror movies. To become reliant upon a computer to tell us that we're going to be late based on our usual behaviour and the prevailing traffic conditions? That's just the tip of the iceberg.

There has been a huge public backlash concerning these Google Privacy Issues and Google have issued their own explanation on thee Google Public Policy blog to try to clear things up. They insist that the new changes are purely to simplify their own privacy policy which extends over 60 products and that people are always able to log out and switch off the various properties so that they can use the internet 'off the record'.

However they may try to wrap it up, it's scary because it's like being controlled. Being drip fed what someone else wants us to see, not the true picture.

History has shown us time and again that nothing good can ever come of that.

Topics:FacebookGooglesocial mediagoogle privacy issues

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