Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Google+ social networking users giving up control

"If you make G+ (or Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or Tumblr any other service that hosts your conversations and other "content") your primary online presence, you are in effect giving away something enormously valuable. You are giving your contributions to the emergent global conversation to a company that values you largely as a contributor of data it can then turn into money." Read the rest at The Guardian.

As I said last week at #DigiTalksChelt, if you're not paying for your Internet service then you're not the customer, but the product that's being sold!

The problem is that, for now, most users just don't care: it's too important to them to jump on board with the latest thing (Google+), to feel that they're not missing out on their friends' action (Facebook), to be part of the uber-cool info flood (Twitter) or not risk missing an opportunity (LinkedIn) ...

By the time that users realise that it is massively more profitable to these companies to gather data for marketing than to provide the services, it's pretty much too late! There are scare stories of people trying to disengage from services like Facebook, only to discover that it takes hours and is incomplete: terms and conditions allow the companies to retain user content in some cases so as not to 'damage the experience' of the service for others!

Expect the market to shift and unfold with increasing rapidity: Google+ for example gets users to segment others into distinct 'circles.' I can't see or opt-out of the circle(s) you put me in to; and Google is getting an amazing amount of rich, crowd-sourced data on the profiles of G+ users, aggregated by their inside view of all the circles I've been put into by all the Google+ users who know me. That will prove to be of astonishingly profitable value to the company; and we're all rushing blindly into the honey trap!
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