Google: AOL snafu 'terrible thing,' share 'your music listening history with Google'

Google: AOL snafu 'terrible thing,' share 'your music listening history with Google'

Summary: Backlash against AOL has not swayed Google from its mission to organize all the world’s information, including individuals’ personal information.

TOPICS: Google

In conjunction with its release of a new version of Google Talk, Google launched Music Trends today.

According to the Official Google Blog:

Music status sharing - Show your friends what music you listen to and discover new music that your friends are into (or discover that they spend their entire day listening to Barry Manilow... hmm).

We also thought it would be fun for you to see the musical tastes of the broader community. So you now have the option of sharing your music listening history with Google, to be included in the rankings of our new Google Labs project called Music Trends.

On the heels of the great AOL search query data release snafu, Google asks its users to “share your music listening history with Google.”

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking at the Search Engine Strategies Conference last week, characterized the AOL search data blunder as “a terrible thing” and said:

Maybe it wasn't a good idea to release it in the first place.

The public backlash against AOL has apparently not swayed Google from its mission to organize all the world’s information, including individuals’ personal information (see Google CEO Eric Schmidt: 'all world's information includes personal information').

According to Google:

Google Music Trends: See what Google Talk users are listening to

Music Trends is a snapshot of the music that's popular right now among Google Talk listeners. Every Talk user who has opted in to Music Trends will cast their vote automatically, each time they listen to music on their computer. We'll gather this information and display the trends by genre, listing the favorite songs and artists in each category…


Learn how to opt in to Music Trends to contribute your vote, or download Google Talk now to get started. You don't need to be a Google Talk user to simply view the Music Trends page and learn more about the music that people are listening to…

When Google Talk users opt in to Music Trends, we'll capture information about the music they're listening to from their music player. We then anonymize the information and add each musical vote to our Music Trends page. The more users that are opted in, and the more music they listen to, the more accurately the Music Trends page will reflect the world's musical tastes.

In “Google GMail personal data mining: Where is the outrage?” I reflect on the importance of individual responsibility in maintaining the integrity of personal data:

The modus operandi of a typical Internet user is to willing divulge personal data on the public Internet without regard to the nature of the data being put forth on the 'information super highway' and without concern for what will happen to the data once openly revealed.

Individual users of the Internet, however, have a personal responsibility to be safe guardians of their own data.

The recent AOL search query data disclosure 'gaffe' should serve to illustrate the proactive role users must play in their own defense.

Will individuals still be willing to allow Google to track, record, share, and archive, their personal activities?

UPDATE: Google domination of world's information includes your playlists

Topic: Google

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    Huh? Google Music Trends is just like a service. How could collecting users listening data, on an opt in basis, be an invasion of privacy? Oh no, someone can find out what music I'm listening too... and... do... what with it? mock me? It's purely voluntary, and this is trivial data. Especially on it's own. The only power in collecting this data is in the TRENDS.

    I don't understand how this would compromise personal privacy at all.
    • and where were you

      when AOL got the rap sheet for sharing online search data. Doesnt analysing search data or music trend amount to the same thing.
      • Big difference

        The Google thing is completely opt-in and is transparent from the get-go. You are told that your information is going to be published before you sign up. This was not the case with AOL, where random users had their searches published without their consent or prior notification.
        tic swayback
    • I agree with you

      Even this AOL "snafu" thing has been blown right out of proportion. I mean, okay, about a dozen users turned out to have some (sometimes disturbing) yet highly amusing things on their minds... out of the MILLIONS of people that had their search history records exposed... and the closest to personally identifiable information was that someone was able to figure out the general location that some of these (sometimes disturbed) people lived in... but so what?! People are just SO paranoid.

      It seems to me this is even MORE benign. First off: IT?S VOLUNTARY!!!!. Second, it?s what MUSIC you listen to. Third: Are we all going to get so paranoid that we?re going to stop doing the things that make the Internet the wonderful, magical thing it can be (and often IS) ? If we?re always anticipating the worst case scenario we?re all going to end up scared and timid people ? personally, *I* don?t want to live like that!
  • Skewed data

    Obviously this is not as evil as AOL's disclosure, as it's strictly opt-in and it's transparent--users are told upfront that the information is going to be published.

    What interests me here is why would anyone sign up for this? I can see artists trying to promote themselves, getting their friends/fans to sign in and exclusively play their music. No matter what the motivation, it strikes me that you'll have a skewed set of data that won't really reflect the music people are listening to.
    tic swayback