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Google is king. We all know it and we all love it. Where would we be without its friendly logo and cutesy drawings to spice up a fall day?
Let’s face it, it’s hard to rip on the pioneers of cloud computing, but I think it’s officially safe to say they have finally reached their area of non-expertise with social networking. Google+, the new Google social networking project, looks awesome, but falls short in terms of being useful.
The interface is crisp letting users’ posts show up in the middle of the page and the navigation is easy to figure out. There is no clutter of advertisements or extras – yet. Adhering to the same design technique and color scheme as the searchngine, Google+ is easy to use. The home page looks a lot like Facebook with a dash of color and follows the same basic principles. You have your circles, hangouts, posts and pictures that function like well, Facebook.
So if it’s so easy to use why isn’t anybody using it?
Before signing up with Google+, I could search my name on any search engine and not be found. Despite privacy concerns associated with Facebook, my web presence was well protected and I felt safe online.
After signing up with Google+, I searched my name again. The first page of results on the Google search engine now hosts my Google+ profile picture, a link to my Vimeo account, and a link to my Google+ account. My jaw dropped at the sudden exposure of my personal information online. I immediately looked for the privacy settings on Google+, but couldn’t find any.
Privacy is a concern for people on social networking sites and should be. Unless there is a precedent set for the site as a business or professional networking site, such as Linked-In, people tend to post whatever they want on their own profile. Google+ has no such established reputation for what it should or should not be used for, making privacy a real concern. Their lack of privacy settings should be approached with caution.
Google has been criticized for how it handles personal privacy. Privacy International, a “watchdog” non-profit, deemed Google hostile to privacy in its 2007 Consultation Report for major corporations. Google also faced criticism when it was accused of collecting data from users on public Wi-Fi stations, including personal e-mails.
What we have here is the king of search engines trying to vertically integrate all things Internet related into one giant, unprotected database of individuals and their habits. With Google’s adaption of a social networking site, they literally have the potential to know everything about you including what you’re searching, what you’re buying, what you look like, etc.
Uh-oh Google, I think you just out did Big Brother.
My advice is to stay off Google+, at least until they’ve gotten through the kinks and throw up some privacy settings. Oh, and Google, lets get a new name please. Nobody wants to type that extra +. We’re on the Internet, and we’re lazy.
Facebook has won this popularity contest.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Erica Lindberg at Erica.firstname.lastname@example.org.