If you are the paranoid sort, now may be the time to bail…. if you can.  For quite a while my friend and I have called Google “El Goog” (of course in true geek fashion, it’s Google backwards).  Paying homage to the great power Google has at its fingertips.

The Onion posted a video on how to “OPT OUT” from Google a couple years ago… seriously funny. But seriously…

Google announced yesterday that it is updating it’s Privacy Policy.  It’s going to be simpler, plainer and easier to understand.  Hooray. (and good luck!) What a huge undertaking!

The New York Times covers this story pretty well here, so I will just point out a few things regarding my thoughts on Social Media services like Google and Facebook and your data.

Here is an excerpt of the Google blog post:

 It (their old approach) is also at odds with our efforts to integrate our different products more closely so that we can create a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google.

That sounds awesome, doesn’t it? And honestly it’s what many of us want from our services.  Integration, intuitiveness – and to be able to be somewhat lazy and uninformed. I am just being honest here.  I don’t REALLY want to dig into each service I use in order to know or guess all the implications of using that service. And if I did want to… would I even understand it?

It goes on to say:

The main change is for users with Google Accounts. Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.

Some social media people were pretty upset when their Google + posts started showing up in Google search results, claiming it was against the current privacy policy.  Google is fixing that now.

To cut to the chase here are some thoughts that govern my own participation in Social Networking sites:

  1. We are conditioned to want convenience.  Google and Facebook provide that to us – and  to those who wish to market to us.
  2. Whether I am posting on my personal Facebook page or my business page I try to be the kind of me my Grandmother might tell me to be. “Be careful and kind with what you do and say in public, because people talk.  Don’t say, do, or post about things you don’t want some one to eventually know about”  Love, Grandma.
    Remember, digital data will most likely live forever.  Ouch. There really is no ‘forgive and forget’.
    I even hesitate at times to post in private groups.  I try to always think… what if this post were to accidentally become public??  (Have you ever publicly tweeted something meant as a DM, or texted the wrong person accidentally?)
  3. Assume that when you give someone something, they will do with it what they like.  If it’s a hand cross-stitched dishtowel you slaved over, they may clean up a grease spill in the garage with it.  If it’s your post about “whatever”, your birthday, your kids pictures… it may show up where you hadn’t originally intended it.  Yes, there are Terms of Service to establish fair usage of these types of electronic social network services… but those Terms of Service can change and retracting your ‘previous self’ is going to be pretty tough. (revisit video at beginning of post)

I don’t know the value or ease of removing oneself from the digital world.  I don’t know that I would even recommend it, per se.

I would say,

“Don’t be naive. Don’t think that you will actually be protected (from harm, your own uninformed ignorance, other’s malicious behavior…) by terms of service or your ‘understanding’ of how it should be.”

Basically, Google owns whatever you give it.  Facebook owns whatever you give it. Participate wisely.  Make the world better.

*if you would like to be a little more informed about Googly type stuff click this Google post:  Tech Tips that are Good to Know

About bethkolar

Owner at Center-Fit Kettlebell Club and Midlife Fitness Crisis

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