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Friday, November 8, 2013

Dear Google: Circle Your Wagons Elsewhere

For those not aware, Google (who has owned the famous video-sharing site YouTube.com) has now made changes to the video sharing site.  Presently, you are forced to create, or make public, your personal information with a Google+ account before you may comment or do many other things on YouTube that one could do with a "screen name" (profile name, etc).

Now for some, that works out just fine.  That is, for those who don't care that their personal identity is now disclosed publicly for the world to see due to the fact that your Google+ account automatically shows your full name, your profile as well as (according to a few YouTube videos we reviewed) a whole lot more; including, but not limited to:


  • Any activity you have done on E-Bay
  • Possible financial information/transactions done on-line
  • Possible transactions done with Apple iTunes
  • A wide array of items that are not fully disclosed/discovered as yet
To be fair, we have not personally examined each and every allegation we have viewed so far.  We will do so in the spirit of remaining impartial and fair.  However, some things are very clear.  Google wants to know what you are doing, where you are doing it, who you are doing it with, how much you spent doing it, why you did it... and if you are likely to do it again.

As Social Media has begun to become a primary platform for information sharing, news gathering as well as basic interactions, "Big Brother Google" seems to want to stick it's nose in your business (literately).  And of course, what fun would that be if Google didn't go ahead and share it with your "Circles" of friends?  You know, the cumbersome and confusing network of folks who you may or may not know but inadvertently added because it was never really clear how the whole Circles thing worked from the start.

Now we have deleted, and subsequently reinstated our Google+ account, for the sole reason that YouTube became essentially non-functional without doing so.  Let me make this clear:  WE DON'T LIKE GOOGLE+, WE NEVER WILL LIKE GOOGLE+, WE DON'T WANT GOOGLE+... but it appears we have no choice if we choose to continue to use YouTube as a media sharing platform.

This may be enough to have folks like us switch over to Vimeo or some other platform in the near future.  And we are not alone.  Do I care if anyone is in my Circle?  No, not really.  It's more a matter of principle than anything else.  At least on Facebook, we get to choose easily who is our "friend" or not.  The process is very clear there.  Not the same with Google+.  In fact, do a search right now on YouTube and see for yourself just how many videos were created speaking out against Google+.  It is not hard to find outcries of injustice and invasion of privacy.  Many people are closing their YouTube and Google accounts completely.  We don't blame them at all.

In a time where Americans are getting increasingly frustrated with overreaching arms of government, invasion of privacy, seemingly tall-tales of false-promises from the White House, people just don't care to have a "Search Engine" data-mining their every move.  We have enough of that with the NSA (maybe).  In reality, we just don't know who is looking at what we do and don't do.  Nothing is clear.  In fact the song "Blurred Lines" comes to mind when we think of how the internet works these days.  

Sure, we all click and "accept" the terms and conditions that are 7000 words in length because, well, who has time to read every word?  It's GOOGLE... harmless right?  Think again... as we dig further, we will share what we find, that is, if we even have this Blogger account up after Google reads it.  We anticipate that we will ultimately get locked out.  

Should that happen, that's fine... we have several servers we operate off of, for this very reason.  If Google really is encroaching on our personal right to privacy, we will absolutely publish it... EVERYWHERE.  What we really would love, is a written or video response from Google as to why it made the changes, what the changes mean to the average user and what safeguards are in place to ensure that personal information is not unknowingly disclosed to third parties without consent.

I almost smell a class-action suit somewhere in the future.  That, or a mass exodus off of the Google platform to a more benign one.  The problem will be finding a platform that allows for widespread coverage of information exchanges without severe limitations in either coverage or broadcasting abilities.  We will be searching none-the-less... on Yahoo... or some other engine.

Google, you have outdid yourself on this one.  You were a great search engine... you had a good Ad-Sense program going.  What were you thinking on this one?  -S.Anthony