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

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.

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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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66 comments
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  • Google's not falling into a trap

    it's the one [i]creating[/i] the trap, with it's users as the victims.
    AllKnowingAllSeeing
    • Well said!!!

      Totally agreed... The "no evil" company is becoming a BIG evil with too much arrogance to impose its will on its users...
      samofdetroit
      • Google is just growing up in corporate America

        Just like Microsoft 20+ years ago, Google has been hailed as the David that took on Goliath. The good guys who gave us free or cheaper alternatives to the evil empire's expensive bloatware. The guys who eventually woke up and realized they have bills to pay, shareholders to answer to and wall street to please. The guys who also realize how much money is involved and how much they stand to rake in.

        Different traveller but same old path. Can you guys see who's following closely behind?
        angiek
      • Right on!

        Letting your friends know when you're close to them (unless you tell it not to, in which case it won't) is so totally [i]EVIL[/i]! The only possible reason could be that they want to invade you, right?
        AzuMao
    • Victims? Isn't it GOOD that privacy is opt-out?

      When something is opt-out that means it is there by default until you disable it, right?


      I don't understand why that should be illegal. It seems like consumer-rights advocates and the like should be [i]happy[/i] when privacy is provided as an opt-out.


      Windows, on the other hand, provides it as an opt-in; unless you go out of your way, it will phone home, reporting stuff to Microsoft. I think you actually have to call some MS employee if you want to use Windows without it phoning home, in fact. Which in itself is eliminating your privacy. So I guess that's not really opt-in privacy; it's [i]no privacy allowed whatsoever[/i] unless you avoid Windows. But are you any of you guys bitching at Microsoft? Nope. Figures.
      AzuMao
      • Wrong way round

        You've misinterpretted this. It's not privacy that's opt-out, it's Google revealing things about you.

        In that respect, privacy here is opt-in. Your information will only be private if you specifically tell Google not to reveal it.
        JessMeats
        • Ah, that sucks.

          Kind of like how your ISP is required to reveal
          everything about you whenever the government
          asks them to. Except there isn't even a way to
          opt-out of that.

          And how it's legal to wiretap people for no
          reason whatsoever.

          I don't understand why there are still people in
          this country who assume they have privacy until
          told otherwise. Google sucks for doing this but
          they're still no worse than anything else in
          this country. :/
          AzuMao
          • Isn't it funny that

            Isn't it funny that the government/law enforcement is required to get a court order to collect data businesses collect without our knowledge everyday. Business have proven time and time again they cant be trusted,they will collect,sell steal data from us until they are forced not too and only then.
            Stan57
          • Minor grammatical correction;

            "[b]was[/b] required" (but no longer, since the USA PATRIOT Act passed),
            not "[b]is[/b] required".
            AzuMao
          • It still IS required. (nt)

            nt
            Bruizer
          • Sorry, Stan57, and Bruizer, but..

            ..Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker's <a href=http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/jewel/jeweldismissal12110.pdf>actions</a> outweigh your words.
            AzuMao
    • WTF.... sorry but I find this hilarious! :D

      I been using my gmail like usual haven't even noticed the Bust thing till I finally check my other email account. lol

      So my buddy had sent me an email wondering if I was going to join Buzz. I called him up and asked him what this buzz thing was all about and then read this zdnet email. My friend says I'm not showing up on it! ....so it sounds like you all are pretty messed up if you think you are forced to join Buzz, cuz I'm not in it and I've had a gmail account for years! haha...

      So yeah.... just admit it! You are all a bunch of dim witted haters dissing on Google. They are the only email account I have that hasn't stolen my info and sold it. Like frigging Yahoo and M$ Hotmail. In fact Hotmail is the email account that has lost my data! :D

      btw... Haters never prosper in the end and look like a bunch of bozos on the internet bus! lol xD
      i2fun@...
      • Take it from me, this isn't funny!

        i2fun wrote:
        [pre]I been using my gmail like usual haven't
        even noticed the Bust thing till I finally check
        my other email account. lol

        So my buddy had sent me an email wondering if I
        was going to join Buzz. I called him up and
        asked him what this buzz thing was all about and
        then read this zdnet email. My friend says I'm
        not showing up on it! ....so it sounds like you
        all are pretty messed up if you think you are
        forced to join Buzz, cuz I'm not in it and I've
        had a gmail account for years! haha...

        So yeah.... just admit it! You are all a bunch
        of dim witted haters dissing on Google. They are
        the only email account I have that hasn't stolen
        my info and sold it. Like frigging Yahoo and M$
        Hotmail. In fact Hotmail is the email account
        that has lost my data!

        btw... Haters never prosper in the end and look
        like a bunch of bozos on the internet bus! lol
        xD[/pre]

        I think it was a few weeks ago that I was
        reading
        something on ZDNet about Google Buzz; so out of
        curiosity, I checked my Gmail account [i][b]and
        found that it was activated![/b][/i] I
        immediately deactivated it, of course, but I was
        (and still am) extremely pissed off about it.
        nbahn
    • YOU opt-IN

      when you agree to the terms of service.

      <b>If you don't agree, don't accept</b> Google's terms, and don't use the service.

      It's your free choice. <b>You are NOT a "victim".</b> If you disagree but you check "I accept" anyhow, you're either a liar, a cheat, or just plain stupid.

      Stupidity and dishonesty are their own reward.
      oldbaritone
    • RE: Hey Google, Opt-out doesn't work for social applications

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      3shao
  • Google forced buzz on the masses

    Google forced buzz on the masses who have a gmail account. I think google should be forced to stop buzz and start over just like any other web site starts ,advertising,word of mouth. In this case google should be fined millions of dollars for exposing peoples private material they had no intension of exposing,given a choice.
    Stan57
    • Don't use Buzz if you don't like it

      I have a Gmail account, but have never used buzz (have no real need for social networking applications). I would suggest to all those who don't like buzz to just not use it. Same goes for facebook, myspace, twitter or any of the dozen or so social networking operations out there - Just say no.
      WiredGuy
      • That's the point

        Uh! You haven't been listening. The point is that if you have a gmail account you *are* (or were) using Buzz whether you wanted to or not, or even knew about it or not.

        My wife was the first to tell me about this because she got a notice that she was "following" me, and I her, even though neither of us has EVER enabled or used Buzz.

        Even if you clicked on the (new) button at the bottom telling gmail to turn off Buzz, you still had a profile out there that at least some people could get to.
        alajon
        • Really?

          Even if you disable it it is still on? o_O
          Or by "[i]some[/i] people" do you mean, like, Google employees?
          It's kind of a given that they might be able to find out who you talk to on GMail, since they run it. Isn't this true for any kind of non-anonymous mail service?

          If that's unacceptable, use <a href=http://freenetproject.org/freemail.html>Freemail</a> or something. Decentralized + end-to-end encryption + plausible deniability = very good
          privacy.
          AzuMao
        • Weird...

          ... I use gmail all the time (has been my prime since Hotmail lost some important filed emails that I foolishly left there about 7 years ago) and when I saw the offer to join Buzz I simply disabled it and that was it. While I wish they had sent me an email beforehand telling me what they were going to do, I don't see anything worse in this than Microsoft pushing "genuine advantage" BS onto my system. At least I was able to get rid of Buzz...
          914four