Has Google Gone Evil? [UPDATED]
I’ve been so busy lately that I really haven’t been keeping up with my blog. But there is one issue that I’ve had to write about. The issue is Google Buzz. Google introduced it recently as their entry to the social networking space and I’ll let Google describe what it’s all about:
Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting. It’s built right into Gmail, so you don’t have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch — it just works. If you think about it, there’s always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most. We focused on building an easy-to-use sharing experience that richly integrates photos, videos and links, and makes it easy to share publicly or privately (so you don’t have to use different tools to share with different audiences). Plus, Buzz integrates tightly with your existing Gmail inbox, so you’re sure to see the stuff that matters most as it happens in real time.
Charming, but the fact that it was integrated with Gmail caused problems right out of the box. Google in their infinite wisdom didn’t let users opt into Buzz, they but automatically applied it to millions of Gmail users. Not smart because it disclosed information that those users thought was private. Silicon Alley Insider describes the implications of this flaw this way:
In my profession — where anonymous sourcing is a crucial tool — the implications of this flaw are terrifying.
But it’s bad for others too. Two obvious scenarios come to mind:
- Imagine if a wife discovering that her husband emails and chats with an old girlfriend a ton.
- Imagine a boss discovers a subordinate emails with executives at a competitor.
Now to be fair, Google did make a couple of changes to address these issues, but nobody was truly happy. That led to a class action lawsuit being filed against Google. I’m betting others will be filed shortly.
So does that mean that Google has gone evil? IMHO, yes.
Google seems to be intent on collecting as much info on you as possible and using it ways that allow them to make money. If you don’t believe me and you happen to have a Gmail address, click here and see how much information Google has on you). If anything that they do happen to infringe upon your privacy, too bad so sad as far as they are concerned. That is until the story hits the press and then they backtrack.
That really doesn’t sound like a company that is interested in doing no evil.
Google has really dropped the ball here and needs to regain the trust of their users. If they can’t do that, then they need to get the message that this behavior is completely unacceptable by having their users dump Google services. Given that Google users are Google’s biggest assets, the less users they have, the less money they make. Maybe that will get their attention that they need to live up to their motto of “do no evil” rather than to pay lip service to it.
UPDATE: Gizmodo has a guide to help you to dump Google and move their competitors. So if you’re done with Google, give this article a read.