Google Killing Off Anonymity

With recent announcements about Google migrating their privacy policy into one large policy, that lets them share your information across any and all of the Google tools, some folks are starting to get up in arms about Google moving away from their unofficial motto, “Don’t be evil”.

Some are even comparing Google’s moves to AOL.

There’s some truth to this. Unlike Facebook, which started out as a social network only, and has tried to bring more things into the walled garden, Google has a number of various things out there, that people have been using for years, and now they’re simply forcing all of it into the walled garden, and into Google+ specifically. Facebook, rightly, got their hands slapped when they tried to bring in “partners” and made folks opt-out of those additional postings to their profile. They’ve recently added partners, but have made the process more of an opt-in, where you can choose whether a partner has rights to interact with your profile information the first time you use it.

Google, on the other hand, has no opt-out. The various Google properties will, as a matter of business, share your information. Does that mean Google will start posting your activities to G+ publicly? Of course not. (Thought there’s nothing, technically, stopping them from, is there?) It does, however, mean that Google is using information from your email, maps,  your calendar, from G+, and from your search history to target ads to you. What kinds of ads you get from Google will wind up saying a lot about the information that you are looking at and not sharing.Hope your boss or spouse doesn’t see that, eh? 😉

For me, the unintended consequence of Google’s recent maneuvers to the end of anonymity on Google. Since we now know that they are striving, with G+, to be a one-stop identity source, and since signup for any Google product requires a Google account, which in turn creates a G+ profile, which of course, requires your real name, how could you use Blogger, Analytics, Gmail, etc. anonymously?

Let’s use this scenario. I’m a current Google account holder, and I want to create a second Gmail account, for use with an anonymous blog dealing with a highly sensitive subject. My attempt to create a second Google account is met with the creation of my G+ profile, which I can’t actually create without using my name, as I understand the TOS. Since there’s already a G+ profile out there for me, it’s not clear that I could create a second account.  So, I’m left with walking away from Google, and using other web services to do what I want to do.

Ultimately, when your business model is encouraging users to use your competitor’s products, maybe you are FUBAR?

What do you think, will Google’s policy changes make you think twice about using Google products? Or are you so far into the Borg that there’s no turning back?

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