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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  1. Hey Mike,

    It has been my deep suspicion that for years, Google, with all their "products", are effectively creating a very exhaustive information bank on everyone online, to the point of actually contributing to the creation of a worldwide spying system, or the core of what is commonly known as the Beast, that mega computer monster in Brussels, or Big Brother, or...

    Every time I use GMail I'm concerned how far into my own info they reach to suggest features I "may" like.

    Hoping for an impregnable parallel internet where privacy reigns and you don't have to air your laundry in front of every body, but can retain some secrecy as far as your life is concerned... or on the other hand, if God knows everything and sees everything... hmmm

  2. Andre, thanks for the comment and the feedback.

    I know it's a cliché, but the thought that sprang to mind as I read your comment was, "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't meant they're not out to get you!"


    Drop me an email sometime with your address and I'll respond to your final paragraph.