Google is NOT your friend

Google is NOT your friend

Summary: ZDNet Education blogger, Christopher Dawson, wrote a post titled, "Google is your friend." Dude, I can assure you that Google is NOT my friend.

TOPICS: Banking, Browser, CXO, Google

Google is NOT your friend

ZDNet Education blogger, Christopher Dawson, wrote a post titled, "Google is your friend." Dude, I can assure you that Google is not my friend. Trading partner? Sure. Sometime ally? Maybe. Back-stabbing neighbor? Now we're getting closer.

I do acknowledge all the wonderful things Google provides -- search services, Google Earth, Picasa, and so on. However, it's important to recognize two facts about Google being your "friend:"

  1. Whether or not they realize it, all Google users engage in an implicit business deal with the company. Those amazing, so-called free, tools come at the cost of your privacy. Google hoards your data for use anytime, anywhere its voracious heart desires. The clever company is always thinking up new ways to slice and dice your personal data in service of its corporate profit.
  2. Google's warm, fuzzy image (you know, all the pretty colors) can turn on users, and violate their trust, for good reasons or for no reason at all. For example, just read about the angst one user suffered when Google disabled his account without warning. It's pretty ugly.

Unfortunately, ugly seems to be Google's style. For example, read this New York Times comment in response to yet another user's forced account lockout:

As customers, we bring the same expectations to Google’s personalized information services, like Gmail or Google Docs, its word-processing service, as we do to our bank’s Web site. These are places that hold information very dear to us. My bank recognizes that losing access for days at a time is unacceptable. It provides me with round-the-clock phone support for account problems. So, too, should Google, even if I pay the company not in the form of a monthly account fee, but with my attention, which Google commercializes by selling slices to its advertisers.

The Times has it right: for many of us, Google has become a most favored trading partner. Sadly, we nonetheless labor under the illusion of Google being our friend, when it's only a profit machine like any other giant corporation.

In fairness, none of this lessens the educational benefits Christopher describes:

I don’t think I’m off base in saying that Google provides the largest, free set of Web 2.0 tools available to the general public, meaning that our users can access them at home or school and generally across platforms (including Linux in most cases).

Maybe all the IT failures blogging has made me cynical, but despite Google's benefits, I still wonder whether friends like this means we don't need enemies.

[Image via The AntiSyphus Effect.]

Topics: Banking, Browser, CXO, Google

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  • the old call the enemy of my enemy is my best friend

    as long as google will pick on MS im willing to live with it happily .... when MS will be out of the picture will trun to the next monster
    • Enemy?

      Out of curiosity, what has Microsoft ever done to you, [i]personally[/i], to be considered your enemy?

      The next edition of the DSM-IV should seriously consider listing "ABM" as an accute mental disorder...
      • Nonsense

        "Out of curiosity, what has [insert any noun] ever done to you, personally, to be considered your enemy?"

        Substitute Al Quaeda, Charles Manson, or the RIAA for Microsoft, and the flaw in this reasoning becomes crystal clear.

        If you define the term "enemy" to mean "someone who has done direct personal harm to you" then your definition is seriously at odds with pretty much everyone else's in the world.
        • Personally, not generally

          OK, if you'd prefer to split hairs, let's do that.

          Of course Al Qaeda is an enemy of modern civilization: anyone with sense and even a fragment of backbone should support his or her governments' duty to destroy it and other terrorist networks.

          Charles Manson, likewise, proved himself to be an enemy of lawful society when he instigated the Helter Skelter murders.

          As for the RIAA ... can you [i]seriously[/i] lump the RIAA together with Al Qaeda and Charles Manson? (Why not play the trusty "Hitler" card, or has that become too cliche?) Other than its efforts to curtail Fair Use laws -- for which I WOULD denounce it -- can you tell me what is inherently [i]evil[/i] about the RIAA? More to the point, can you honestly associate the RIAA, the MPAA, Microsoft, Walmart, etc., etc. with actual murderers and terrorists?

          If so, then you're proving my point: you and other self-styled countercorporate "revolutionaries" (as I'm sure you love to picture yourselves) exhibit some serious mental disorders.
      • Microsoft was the first enemy

        Microsoft became the enemy by chance and stupidity, not by an evil spirit. Their linkup with IBM in the eighties gave them dominance in microcomputing because IBM was too stupid to realise the potential.
        Thanks to that dominance, what they have done to me if force me to use inferior and unsafe software that my corporate bosses insisted I use. The IBM standard of the seventies and eighties became the Microsoft standard of the nineties and naughties.
        With a bit of common sense, the OS will become less important, and Linux will dominate.
        • boo focking hoo

          go complain when you are starving from famine. 1st world problem........... ugh..................
  • RE: Google is NOT your friend

    I would state that the usage of Google as a noun is not your friend. But the usage of Google as a verb is your friend.

    Search on Google still has the best hit rate and fast times. Nothing else compares for me.

    The additional installed software all come with the usual EULA's that basically make you give up any ownership to anything you might have because they know you will click through it.

    Google Search is your friend. The rest is frosting on the cake.
  • RE: Google is NOT your friend

    Sure, Google is using us, just as TV stations use us by giving us lots of shows to watch at the price of watching the ads they run to generate profit. Why does everyone think a business is evil if it is doing so much good for people. I personally could not do my job effectively without Google, and many small businesses rely on its research tools for information and to generate customers. It is simply the best at what it does. Give Google a break!
    • Good points, his claims were about as outrageuos as it gets. Google is not

      doing anything more sinister than ad supported TV. It would be against the law for Google to release personal information willy-nilly as he is implying. Google aps work GREAT!! They respect my privacy!!
      • Then they shouldn't need to hold on to our data for so long...

        And what's with the IP tracking and storage?

        I agree with the author. I don't think it's as benign as it appears to you.

        If you want to put your life's worth into a company that is only looking out for their own best interests, (and not necessarily yours) then go for it.

        But there are others out there like myself who don't have the same level of trust you do and question it.
        hasta la Vista, bah-bie
  • You fools!

    How can you even consider saying this? Google has, at times,
    made mistakes when dealing with a *few* customers, but not the
    general public by any means. These isolated cases do not in any
    way represent the majority's (and by that I mean 99% of
    users')experience. They do not sell your information. They do
    not peddle it to the FBI.
    True, Google is a corporation. This does not, however, reflect
    the mentality of this "corporate giant". The distinction that
    is necessary to be made is that Google's policy is that
    happiness gives them a better business. The data collected is
    not for evil conspiracy-theory purposes, but rather to make all
    of their products better for their users.
    If some users are abusing their services, it is not advisable
    to tell them how they might, for example, break Google's
    servers or hack into the system.
    I simply believe that Google is AWESOME and I love everything
    about Google so much. I don't know what I would do without the
    ease and affordability of Google's services. If I have nothing
    to hide, why do I need to be worried about their caching of my
    data? Google is responsible with it, keeps it secure and to
    themselves, and it benefits everyone greatly.
    Thank you Google!!! You are *my* friend!
    • Then pat Christopher on the back

      He agrees with your perspective; I don't.

      Still, I appreciate the comment!
    • "... I have nothing to hide..."

      You and Bill Gates share the view that the ordinary, honest person doesn't require privacy.

      The result of all the complaints that resulted has been that people have gained more control over information which might become available to Microsoft.

      I'm not certain whether or not a law will be required, but Google will eventually be reined in.

      What others know about me is my choice.

      Of course, given the degree of exposure on facebook and other social sites, Bill Gates may be proven right after all for the majority of people. Even so, this is a situation in which minority rights should be respected.
      Anton Philidor
    • Slavering fanbuis aside, Google [b]is not[/b] my friend

      [i]I simply believe that Google is AWESOME and I love everything about Google so much. I don't know what I would do without the ease and affordability of Google's services. If I have nothing to hide, why do I need to be worried about their caching of my data? Google is responsible with it, keeps it secure and to themselves, and it benefits everyone greatly. Thank you Google!!! You are *my* friend![/i]

      Ho-hum. Looks like Google is following the same route M$ has done by planting their uncritical shills here.


      When Google Analytics has to keep my search data stored for a year, then I question how benign an act that truly is.

      I don't trust them any more than anybody else who spies on the internet.
      hasta la Vista, bah-bie
      • SHHHHH - you will give Donnie a coronary....nt

    • Ahem

      I call astroturfing!
  • Wierd thing... that Google isn't doing anything that other companies haven't done or had the opportunity to do. They simply put a fresh face on it. They hold your data. Yahoo holds your data. They hold your documents. Others have made doc shares. I have tracker running on my computers and it quickly digs through all of my files. This can be done on any server. The only difference is that Google TELLS you what they are doing. People use those Kroger cards that do the exact same thing in exchange for lower prices. Those that understand and don't mind seem them as friends and use them.
    • It's the warm, fuzzy thing

      Google announces they "do no evil," which becomes a meaningless phrase subject to interpretation. No doubt, the phrase had specific meaning to the company founders. But it's become just another codeword for "sound nice."

      So, it becomes an issue of expectations. We expect Verizon or AT&T, for example, to epitomize corporate poor service. We hope for more from Google.
      • Come on, get off it. Google can NOT and will NOT willy-nilly give out

        your emails and personal data. You owe Google an apology.
        • Why wouldn't they?

          or more to the point, why won't the people running it in 10 years?

          Google is a business, and will do what is in the best interests of Google. Not your best interests.

          I fail to understand why people can delude themselves so badly regarding corporations.