If you thought Google+ was a joke, maybe the joke was on us

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Date: Monday, February 24th, 2014, 08:25
Category: Google, privacy, security, Services, Social

google_plus_04Are you an avid Google+ user? Yeah, me neither, but there are still a few people who seem to actively use it, if for no other reason than to advertise their blog posts. I think for me personally, it was just one social network too many, too late. I was already on Twitter, Facebook, Path, and occasionally Instagram and Tumblr. There was no room for Google+ and I think it dropped off most people’s radar for similar reasons. There was also that nasty business shortly after the launch of Google Buzz (now buried under a rock somewhere) where ALL your contact data on Google was automatically shared with everybody. That probably didn’t exactly encourage people to use a new, similar service.

Well, if you haven’t used it, not to worry, it seems Google didn’t care anyway. According to The New York Times, Google is just using Google+ to consolidate your profile data and learn more about you, your friends, your habits, etc. And people are worried about the NSA. Their article wraps it up nicely, although perhaps sounding a bit too neutral;

“Google Plus may not be much of a competitor to Facebook as a social network, but it is central to Google’s future — a lens that allows the company to peer more broadly into people’s digital life, and to gather an ever-richer trove of the personal information that advertisers covet. Some analysts even say that Google understands more about people’s social activity than Facebook does.”

Google has been gradually pushing people to set up Google+ in order to access more and more of Google’s services, and eventually tying it all together to a user’s Google+ profile. Now it can lump together what you watch on YouTube, with searches you make on Google, and people you connect with in Gmail, compiling useful data for advertisers. Google’s spin on this;

“Google says the information it gains about people through Google Plus helps it create better products — like sending traffic updates to cellphones or knowing whether a search for “Hillary” refers to a family member or to the former secretary of state — as well as better ads.”

I don’t suppose this is as dire as it’s made out to seem. I gave up the idea that any data I put into Google was entirely private a long time ago. The plain fact is that we all want to use Google’s services, and this is the price we have to pay. It may seem like, and actually be, a huge privacy violation, but I think we have to get used to the idea that our lives are going to get more and more exposed as we raise our expectations for what these services can do for us, or make aspects of our data-bloated lives easier.



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