Google Search, MINUS My World: NO!

by Amee Bohrer

So I was contemplating joining Google+, to replace facebook as a social networking tool to promote my blog.

That’s what Google intended, and it seems indeed that the party is leaving facebook.  Not so, facebook said. Business is good, apparently.

A blogger friend told me that the hits on her site are insane when she posts on Google+.  I was excited about the possibility.

In 8 months, Google+ has reached the same number of users that it took facebook four years to accumulate: 90 million, according to CNN.

I was leery, but considering it.

And now THIS: Google Search, Plus Your World.

NO, NO, NO!!

Is there no pretense of privacy –or fair competition— at ALL left on the internet? Now even my private searches will be invaded by what is essentially junk results designed to force a constant social networking experience on me? It’s still new, and subject to change.

Right now, this feature only effects Google+ users, as I understand it. I can avoid it by NOT joining. But will this eventually expand to all Google products? Will even a simple gmail account ensnare us into this mandatory search format?

And I thought the facebook Timeline was manipulative. I had been ambivalent about leaving for years, but the launch of Timeline galvanized me to not just “deactivate,” but begin deleting my entire friends list systematically. I didn’t want my entire facebook history public, for anyone to browse. I didn’t want to prune unwanted statii away to carefully cultivate my facebook image, or choose a “cover shot.”

My original deadline to delete my account was Jan. 6, because I was notified that my Timeline was going live on that date.  I failed, but went back to work. This time, I resolved to do it the right way. And I’m almost done. I felt great about it!

There’s also things like this, which freak me out. But that can apply to all social networks.

Except all the problems I thought I would be getting AWAY from by leaving facebook are now infiltrating Google, as a whole.  Soon, it seems, the dominant search engine, e-mail brand, and freakishly prolific innovator of new social technology will control the market, period. Google has even merged with Blogger– you need a gmail account now to sign up.

No sir, I don’t like it.

What choice will we have, if we want to participate in social networking? Right now, I have a Twitter. Should I delete that as well?

It’s hard to let go of my one remaining social networking lifeline.

I don’t know if it’s worth it to use social media promote my blog, honestly. Maybe I’ll keep it old-school and just get business cards.  Maybe I don’t want this blog to get bigger. Maybe I’ll stay right here, blogging in obscurity– thankyouverymuch.

For now, this blogger is holding out. I’m accelerating my facebook deletion, undecided about Twitter, and will not join an additional  network unless something drastic changes. Are there any better options, with more security and control?

Compared to Google+, facebook seems like a paragon of ethics and security.


6 comments on “Google Search, MINUS My World: NO!

  1. eviljim says:

    One thing in respect to fair competition: Twitter, Facebook, et cetera don’t give Google access to their data so that they can include it in search results. In fact, Google used to include twitter data but then Twitter stopped providing it to Google… so they had to stop using it.

    It’s really frustrating to see people attack Google for not including data that they don’t have permission to use, because you’re attacking the wrong side here. Facebook and Twitter are what are referred to as ‘walled gardens’ — the stuff you put in nobody else can see unless you see it through Facebook or Twitter. Because they want it that way; if they control your information they can use it to extract money.

    People should be pissed at the other companies because they’re taking information and making it less freely available (unless you want to experience it through their site). And it’s pretty amazing to me that almost *no* news stories thought about it this way.

    Imagine if the NFL (or whomever) said to newspapers that they couldn’t print scores anymore (or demanded so much money it made no sense for newspapers to license that data), or game recaps or whatever. So the papers take them out, because they can’t provide them anymore. What is happening with Google would be the equivalent of getting pissed at the papers over it, as opposed to the NFL.

    This is nothing to say over the goodness of the feature itself, or if it’s a great addition or a terrible addition — it’s only a comment about how people are perceiving the exclusion of data controlled by other companies that actively don’t want Google to have it.

    In my opinion, most data should be free — especially data that’s ours as consumers of those services (and, you know, presuming we WANT it to be free and not locked down).

  2. Excellent points, eviljim– thank you for the inclusion. The NFL scores analogy is particularly apt.

    But the article I hyper-linked under “fair competition,” did quote both Twitter and Google directly from their relevant statements on the issue. Of course, you are welcome to add additional information and I’m glad you joined the conversation.

    I suppose I’m grateful that for now, Facebook and Twitter are “walled gardens”– akin to a gated community of information. When I signed up for those two accounts, I did so believing that my information was safely contained within, unless I personally modified those settings. And to be fair, my beef isn’t with any one brand of social network right now so much as that I find the constant flux of privacy settings and addition of new features to be personally alarming. I can’t keep up with it, or manage it– to my satisfaction.

    In doing research on other options, such as Google+, I’m realizing that this problem only becomes bigger when dealing with a much larger network– as there are more features, more products, etc. I preferred the independent Family Video to Blockbuster. I always prefer a smaller store, with less options.

    Google has the right to expand, and they are a pioneer for a reason– but I suppose the internet is simply getting too big for me. Rather than deal with all the rapidly fluctuating new settings, it’s easier for me to just not deal with it at all. Thus, it would be easier for me to not join Google+ and totally avoid this new search integration. Which makes me frustrated because this new search integration feature is currently the sole deal-breaker for me.

    I’m frustrated because I consider Google to be the standard now for browsing and have found it to provide a superior email service. I switched to Chrome because Mozilla was constantly crashing, and cannot remember the last time I used Explorer. I like using Chrome and gmail– I LIKE the idea of Google+.

    What I don’t like is the idea of all those Google products becoming fluidly linked– I want my products separate. If this changed, I would consider joining. I’m also concerned with the implications that with the introduction of this new feature, the very fabric of a basic internet search could become inextricable with social networking. Competitors will want to match Google, and then this may become a standard and permanent change in our internet experience.

    I agree basic internet use should be free. And conversely, I would happily pay a membership fee to enjoy a separate social networking experience, if paying up front guaranteed my privacy since profit would my information would not need to be culled for marketing to make up the difference.

    I suppose that I feel I’m paying a bigger price as a consumer with the current state of “free” social networking services, as lines between which of my information is private or public becomes increasingly unclear.

    • eviljim says:

      Not that you at all need a social network, but based off a lot of what you’ve said I think you should check out Path. I think you at minimum would find what they’re trying to do interesting.

      It’s designed to be fundamentally private, dedicated to sharing between the people you truly care about. It limits your number of friends, originally to 50 but they now allow up to 150. The idea is you shouldn’t even think about sharing things because it’s a tight network of people you actually know and care about.

      It also bills itself not as a social network, but as a life journal.

      Just something I thought you’d find interesting, since you’ve clearly thought about life and how it relates to social networks.

      • Jim, what a cool cat you are– thank you. I did browse the Path site, it sounds neat indeed!

        I’m holding out as long as I can, and wringing whatever writing I can out of it. Path is something I’ll seriously consider, it does sound secure and like a refreshing alternative. Thanks for the recommendation and for being so respectful about my choice. A lot of people are not, sadly. You wouldn’t think something as trivial as opting out of a social network would rile people up. I’ve also heard about something called thebackwardplane, which apparently is endorsed by Gaga. All these hip social networks are out of the same area of Cali– I wonder what facebook thinks of all this competition! Zuck is probably working 24/7!

  3. I want you to know that I just shared your blog on a social networking site that ends in “ook”. I wanted to promote it but didn’t know how else to do it without leaving my house…sweet irony.

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