User meta data wars going way too far, Google

Summary:I kind of feel like my pocket has been picked of the little black book I keep there for my contacts. My contacts.

I'm a big fan of Google, always have been. But the thirst for pulling in more users to its Google+ social network is about to turn my admiration south.

Now Google is not alone in sliding down the slippery slope of user information invasion. But they are getting too good at it, and they have a huge exploitation potential that others do not.

Google+ seems to now -- I just noticed it today -- require me to click a little box NOT to send my Google+ posts to all the contacts in MY Gmail address book that are not already on Google+.

That's right. When I have something to post to my circles of social connections on Google+ I have to opt out of not having Google send a copy of that post to all the people in my own address book via unsolicited email -- also known as spam. Kind of defeats the purpose of having circles in the first place, right?

This puts me in the place of shilling for Google+ unless I opt out. Not necessarily evil, but not benign, either.

Incidentally, if I wanted to jam all my posts to all my contacts, to spam them, I'd just blast it out to my contacts as my own email. No need for Google+.

So today I'm being held up as a spammer from those I care about most, those I intentionally put in my address book, and that I thought was still ****MY**** data even if it is -- gulp -- in the cloud on Google or iCloud or ... oh my, where ever else my once-private address book is now being sucked into.

But I do not want to spam my contacts. I'd be a fool too. And Google should not want to spam my contacts either, even if they do have Facebook envy to a foolish level.

To be fair, a lot of other Facebook wannabes are also resorting to user address book shenanigans. Path just got a whole lot of flak for outright downloading address books. Not sure if that was a bug or a feature.

And some site called ApnaCircle last month had me scrambling to stop email invites to join it from going out again and again to my contacts. That was not my intent. So I deleted my account, but had to manually delete all my contacts there too or the emails kept going out.

This is not how word of mouth marketing or social networking is supposed to work, folks. I kind of feel like my pocket has been picked of the little black book I keep there for my contacts. My contacts. Did I give up the rights to my contacts when I placed them in an address book on Gmail? Maybe I did, but not for long.

No, this filching of user data is social networking run amok, and it needs to stop.

Topics: Apps, Google, Social Enterprise

About

Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, an enterprise IT analysis, market research, and consulting firm. Gardner, a leading identifier of software and cloud productivity trends and new IT business growth opportunities, honed his skills and refined his insights as an industry analyst, pundit, and news edito... Full Bio

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