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How Google+ Measures Up On Privacy 164

Posted by timothy
from the circling-the-wagons dept.
itwbennett writes "The slow rollout of Google+ has led some to wonder whether Google was trying to create demand through scarcity, but it might just be that the company learned its lesson from the privacy fiasco that was the launch of Google Buzz. 'I think it is very smart of Google to restrict Plus to a "limited field trial" — they aren't even calling it a beta. Google made a misstep with the roll out of Buzz. They've already avoided that mistake with Plus with this limited release. And because it's so exclusive, tech savvy individuals are fighting to get in — just the type of folks that you want as beta testers,' said Sean Sullivan, an F-Secure security adviser. Of course, fixing bugs doesn't necessarily mean that Google will have privacy issues buttoned up. 'Google Plus is clearly designed to give people better control over their privacy with respect to their family, co-workers and friends, [but] there are other types of privacy that it simply can't provide,' says Peter Eckersley, a senior staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 'Nobody has succeeded in building a social network that can offer those kinds of privacy protections yet.'"
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How Google+ Measures Up On Privacy

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  • Privacy Settings (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, 2011 @08:17AM (#36718878)

    Allowing people to specify who can see their information alongside inputting that information itself is a big plus (pun intended). In Facebook you have to trawl through confusing menus, and are left not knowing if you've really set the privacy settings you intended.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Monday July 11, 2011 @08:20AM (#36718894)

    Let's say you want to invent the Next Facebook Killer But This Time With Privacy.

    Your system needs to allow:

    - People to make just enough information public to identify themselves (so friends can find them).
    - People to send messages and make photos and other media available to others with whom they may not have connected but may have a legitimate interest in seeing it (that's pretty much the point).
    - Assuming you're planning on monetizing this by selling ads, some sort of network effect to encourage more and more people to get into it. Facebook has this in spades with things like tagging; LinkedIn gets it by essentially asking its users to spam on its behalf.
    - While at the same time ensuring that the above information doesn't end up in the "wrong" hands. The wrong hands doesn't have to be just advertisers - the most common example is if you have your colleagues as friends on facebook and they get to see all the drunken photos of you going back years. We all have something in the past that we'd rather stayed there; the only way a lot of people can function in society is because by and large it does stay there.

  • by Lord Grey (463613) on Monday July 11, 2011 @08:24AM (#36718914)

    All that yammering about privacy that can't be provided by Google+ but no actual references. Here is the full excerpt from TFA:

    "Google Plus is clearly designed to give people better control over their privacy with respect to their family, co-workers and friends, [but] there are other types of privacy that it simply can't provide. If you want a communications tool where the information you're sharing can't be read by Google, or by governments or lawyers in western countries, Google Plus isn't the service to use. Nobody has succeeded in building a social network that can offer those kinds of privacy protections yet," [Peter Eckersley] said.

    With that clarified: I thought that some of the distributed social networking projects offered exactly that (superb privacy capabilities). Regardless, Google+ seems to be a step in the right direction. Maybe not what everyone wants or needs, but a decent start.

  • Re:Privacy, BS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, 2011 @10:18AM (#36720030)

    What did you expect? Lol @ you!
    "I'm a minor"
    *click, account locked because you're a minor*
    "Google is evil because when I intentionally lied to them they reacted by requiring me to prove what was true!"

    Seriously...

  • by kyoorius (16808) on Monday July 11, 2011 @10:23AM (#36720086) Homepage

    (posted on my G+ wall last week, but I thought it might be worth pasting over here also)

    There’s something creepy about Google+. It’s not so much what is seen on the surface. You have the power to manage your own user profile, the people you add to your circles, and what you want see. What you don’t have control over are the circles you are placed into by everyone else.

    As users become more familiar with Google+, they will begin to create more specialized circles. For example, a sampling of circles I have currently have configured are "friends, family, acquaintances, following, paraglider pilots, hackers, makers, the press, ceo’s." Someone else might have me classified in their circles under “pilot” or “robot hacker” or “exboyfriends” or “high school buddies”. Whenever someone adds you to a circle, they are essentially profiling you, and the more people who add you to their circles, the more detail the profile about you will become. This is not something visible to you nor I. It’s visible only to the wizard behind the curtain (Google) and whoever they wish (or are forced) to share this information.

    In the near future, ads may be served which relate to you, yet have nothing to do with anything you ever posted or mentioned on the internet. Your Google+ friends have inadvertently ratted you out.

    So, who is really in control of your profile?

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