Google Didn’t Fuck You; You Did
With the release of Google Buzz last week a lot of people have been screaming bloody murder over some privacy concerns they have and Google’s perceived lack of forethought on the matter.
First, Google Buzz appears to be a FriendFeed clone that Google just launched about a week (or 2) ago. Initially, it was enabled inside of all gmail accounts by default without any authorization to the contrary. I haven’t had the opportunity to try it though. Not because I don’t use gmail (I do; sorta) but because I use Google Apps gmail which wasn’t a part of the rollout.
From what I can glean; Google Buzz works by parsing your contact list and then making connections between everyone in it and displaying their social network activity info publicly for all to see (seriously, just like FriendFeed). Make sense? No? Here’s the Crunchgear explanation of Google Buzz:
Google Buzz is a social network and sharing product built by Google. Based within Google Profiles, Buzz offers a stream of status updates, pictures, links, and videos from your friends. You can “like” these items and you can comment on them. Updates from Flickr, Picasa, Google Reader, or Twitter can also be automatically imported into a Buzz stream. Buzz will recommend items you might like based on your friends’ activity.
So, apparently, one of the “features” of Google Buzz is that when it was initially released it displayed your contact list publicly which raised all sorts of hell from people who can’t afford for this to happen (think lawyers, journalists, etc).
This smacks of a high level of naivete on most of the users. Under what delusion are people living in to think that they have any expectation of privacy from a publicly traded company. Yes, I know they claim to care about your privacy, and I’m sure on a personal level the people working for Google do, in fact, care about your privacy. But the organization itself? Not a fucking chance.
Let’s get serious here; as stated above, Google is a publicly traded company which means their priorities start and end with cash ($$$). Frankly, it’s naive to think otherwise. Ask any corporate officer and they’ll tell you they have a responsibility to their shareholders. This is a notorious lose for consumers but it’s the reality nonetheless. Cry all you want but Google fucking their users in this way did ensure they launched a new social network with millions of users. From a fiscal standpoint, this was a HUGE win even with all the bitching and moaning. Even taking into account any users who would leave Google (along with any ill will this may have created) this was still a winning strategy for launch.
If privacy is an issue then, it seems to me, that you really should have taken greater measures to protect yourself. Relying on Google to protect something like this screams of escapism and finger pointing. Guess what? It’s your fault. Deal with that instead of crying that a publicly traded company that provides a service you use for free does something in a way that you don’t like.
Do I think that Google was right in any way for doing what they did? Not for a second. That said, people need to take responsibility for their own needs instead of blindly trusting a for profit company to do it for them. Yes, even when that company claims to “do no evil”.