Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Jan 2012 22:45 UTC
Google Google has updated its privacy policy - in fact, it has consolidated a mess of over 70 different privacy policies each covering an individual service into one, simpler policy. You'll now be treated as a single account, and data will be shared between Google services to make search results and ads more personalised (I assumed they already did that - makes sense).
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RE: Alternative perspective
by Tony Swash on Thu 26th Jan 2012 12:14 UTC in reply to "Alternative perspective"
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

Here are couple of points for for consideration:

a) It is clear, particularly if you watch the video I linked to in the opening comment, that Google is artificially tweaking search results to favour its own social offering. What is happening is that Google+ links are being prioritised over, say, Twitter links even when the Twitter link is full of data and the Google+ plus link is to an empty space, and that this is being done when Google has access to both sources of data. This is not happening because Google is being 'shut out' of any data source, Google has the data that shows that the Twitter link is the richer source on the topic being searched but it chooses to downplay it below Google's own but inferior data sources.

This seem to me to be a degrading of the usefulness of Google search, and it is being done simply to help Google marginalise a competing services. Is that good or bad? Is that something Google should get away with without a fuss or should there be an outcry to try to get them to stop doing such things?

b) A deeper issue, and one that underpins the above issue, is the long term effects of Google's core business strategy. Google's only source of significant revenue is the collection of data on user activity on the browser and desktop based web and the selling of advertising based on that data. This has a number of implications.

One implication is that Google's revenue source, desktop search, is very threatened by the rise of mobile device internet activity, particularly where that mobile activity replaces desktop activity. Currently Google's annual income, compared to it's total revenue, is very small and what there is comes predominately from iOS search. Android so far has been a very poor generator of revenue for Google. The rise of app based as opposed to browser based web access also poses issues for Google unless it can ensure the insertion of Google ads into apps. This to me is some part of the explanation as to why Google seems so relaxed about the very low level (compared to iOS) of app purchases for Android devices and the much greater dependence on free apps funded by ad income for Android app developers. On the whole I don't much like advertising, and I don't like it shoved in my face, and I don't like it saturating my computer experience. Ads seem to be more intrusive on small mobile devices and I would not want to see the mobile device ecosystem becoming dependent on and saturated by ads and so my personal interest clashes with that of Google.

Google's business model, the collection of data on user activity on the browser and desktop based web and the selling of advertising based on that data, works for Google where it can collect the maximum amount of data about user activity. This means that all internet activity that generates significant user activity which cannot be collected by Google is seen as a threat by Google, as is any attempt by users to remain private in their internet activity. It's response is to either pressure data owners to open their kimono or to try to kill their business by using their large advertising revenues to fund free competing products and services which do collect user data for Google. I don't much like that, it seems anti-innovative to me. And I particularly don't like it when Google deploys an additional weapon of false search results to promote it's own offering and undermine the offerings of those it perceives as it's competitors.

I suppose the bottom line for me is that I don't want the internet dominated by an advertising agency. I don't much like like advertising and I try to avoid it where I can and I don't want to see ads inserted into my every internet activity.

Similarly I don't much like the idea of people collecting data on my activity unless I explicitly approve it. Sometimes I don't much care (for example when Google scans my emails for key words) but the more Google joins up everything so as to watch everything and the more Google tries to become an all pervasive layer in all internet activity the more uneasy I get.

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