Google Plus and personal privacy
This post showed up on Google Plus on Saturday from journalist Andy Carvin, and I think it raises quite a few flags for anyone thinking about using Google products, including Google Plus.
Andy Carvin was at the Edinburgh International TV Festival and had an opportunity to ask Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google how Google can justify their policy of real names only on the Google Plus service when using real identities could put people at risk.
The responses below are copied from Andy’s post on Google Plus (here’s the original if you’re on G+). The comments are Carvin’s.
“He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products that leverage that information.
Regarding people who are concerned about their safety, he said G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It’s obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn’t use G+.
Regarding countries like Iran and Syria, people there have no expectation of privacy anyway due to their government’s own policies, which implies (to me, at least) that Schmidt thinks there’s no point of even trying to have a service that allows pseudonyms.
Unfortunately, the way the Q&A was conducted, I wasn’t in a position to ask him a followup on this particular point. He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person. Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward. These aren’t exact quotes, but I did my best to paraphrase the gist of what he was saying.”
So, how do you feel about the issue of using your real name on Google Plus and your personal safety/privacy? In the case of an activist, a worker in a domestic violence shelter, public figure, or person who needs to have some level of privacy should they be using social media at all?
If Google Plus is indeed an identity network where is it going to go next? How do you feel about the potential of Google sharing cross referenced information about you based on your profile, the information harvested from the links and information you share with your Google Docs, Gmail, Adwords, Analytics and search information?
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