Hey Google, Opt-out doesn't work for social applications

Summary:I don't have a problem with social networks -- even if using them to their fullest extent does give up some of my privacy. I don't mind if my friends know where I'm at, what I'm doing, what I'm buying.

I don't have a problem with social networks -- even if using them to their fullest extent does give up some of my privacy. I don't mind if my friends know where I'm at, what I'm doing, what I'm buying. On most social networks, my privacy settings are set probably a bit looser than most.

What doesn't make me happy though is when social networks take an opt-out approach to privacy. Most recently, it appears that Google is falling into a trap by trying to fast-track the success of their social applications. Opt-out functionality is the easiest way for Google to push their users into their social apps -- but, ironically, that is what's going to make them fail as well.

Google Buzz was a classic example of how not to roll out a social application. Before Google's tweaks to the service, they decided who you probably wanted to follow, and at the same time, who probably wanted to follow you. The end result isn't much different than your Twitter account, but the way it got that way caused all kinds of backlash.

The latest one that has me scratching my head is what MG Seigler speaks about with regards to Google Latitude. Latitude alerts are by default set up in a way that lets your friends be notified by email of your presence, even if you don't authorize it.

Subject: Location Alert: Peter XXXX was nearby!

Google Location Alert

Peter XXXXX (XXXXXX@gmail.com) was within 800 meters of you in San Francisco, CA at 7:15 PM. Check Google Latitude to see where Peter is now.

It's true you can opt-out, but really Google? Here's what their website says about this feature:

Alerts are sent to both nearby friends if they are sharing their location with each other, even if only one of them has enabled alerts.

Opt-out sucks for social networking -- and when it comes to anything privacy related, it should be illegal. What do you think?

Topics: Collaboration, Google, Legal, Networking, Social Enterprise

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