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Google's Real Name Policy, Why You Are the Product 374

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-price-yourself dept.
bs0d3 writes "Google tells their investors: 'Who are our customers? Our customers are over one million advertisers, from small businesses targeting local customers to many of the world's largest global enterprises, who use Google AdWords to reach millions of users around the world.' Site users don't seem to understand. It's not that it's free. It's that you are the product being sold. ThomasMonopoly points out, 'I'm unaware of any company that feels responsible to their product. And if I'm to understand that they're responsible to their customers, the advertisers, I don't want "the world's largest global enterprises" dictating my identity or choosing who in Syria is granted a voice on the world stage.'"
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Google's Real Name Policy, Why You Are the Product

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  • Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mensa Babe (675349) * on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:14AM (#37308134) Homepage Journal
    Is this really new to anyone who hasn't lived in the cage for the last 80 years? This business model is a de facto standard since Phil Taylor Farnsworth invented the tele. Nothing to be upset about. You don't have to use Google if you don't want to. Besides, I'd rather be a product of a company that does no evil than a client of some other companies [slashdot.org] that do.
    • by lm2s (2432822)
      Actually, from my (maybe small) experience, there are a lot of people who are still to realize this.
      • Here's What's New (Score:4, Insightful)

        by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:45AM (#37308308)

        What's new is that Google has found success (initially, at least; people seem to be wising up lately) among the self-proclaimed and self-absorbed digerati crowd that heretofore viewed themselves somehow above the Marketing that always suckered in the mere mortal consumers beneath them. The smug, sniffy, MS-hating, open source espousing, latte-drinking, Starbucks-frequenting hipsters with fifty-dollar haircuts all fell for the warm gooey spin that using Google products made them better people -- which would have been hilarious just-desserts if it hadn't had the unfortunate side-effect of increasing their market share so much.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:57AM (#37308386)

          The smug, sniffy, MS-hating, open source espousing, latte-drinking, Starbucks-frequenting hipsters with fifty-dollar haircuts all fell for the warm gooey spin that using Google products made them better people -- which would have been hilarious just-desserts if it hadn't had the unfortunate side-effect of increasing their market share so much.

          I'm just glad people are finally starting to wise up. Hopefully the momentary bubble in marketshare will soon be gone and we can go back to paying Microsoft and using closed source software, where we know we're the customer and not the product.

          • by DaleGlass (1068434) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:08AM (#37308476) Homepage

            OSS doesn't have anything to do with marketing though. That's just how Google does things.

            OSS usually earns money through support and custom solutions.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by rubycodez (864176)
            hahaha, of course Microsoft's customer is The Corporation, they don't give a flying fuck about the rights of individuals. That's why your windows desktop is a combination billboard, snooper and pinball machine for marketers.
            • "That's why your windows desktop is a combination billboard, snooper and pinball machine for marketers."

              Wow. Bullshit, just bullshit.
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                Windows is the product of a legendary, institutional inferiority complex, fueled by twin engines of incredible amounts of capital and hubris.

                Defenders of the "Windows User Experience" serve to illustrate the concept of a consumer's "Stockholm syndrome".

                That is, until Google puts them to shame in this, for the obvious reasons stated in the article.

              • by no-body (127863)

                "That's why your windows desktop is a combination billboard, snooper and pinball machine for marketers."

                Wow. Bullshit, just bullshit.

                Oh boy! Disable your Windoze built-in firewall, get decent firewall software, lock your box down and watch how many programs how often call home.

                Then, on your Windoze task manager watch how many megabytes of unauthorized gnomes are sitting there hogging your memory doing exactly what on YOUR system?

                Once you're there, you may figure out better what kind of BS is going on.

          • by bonch (38532) *

            we can go back to [...] using closed source software

            You already do every time you use the Google search engine.

        • by bonch (38532) * on Monday September 05, 2011 @04:22PM (#37310564)

          What's new is that Google has found success (initially, at least; people seem to be wising up lately) among the self-proclaimed and self-absorbed digerati crowd that heretofore viewed themselves somehow above the Marketing that always suckered in the mere mortal consumers beneath them. The smug, sniffy, MS-hating, open source espousing, latte-drinking, Starbucks-frequenting hipsters with fifty-dollar haircuts all fell for the warm gooey spin that using Google products made them better people -- which would have been hilarious just-desserts if it hadn't had the unfortunate side-effect of increasing their market share so much.

          Your post is getting pulled back and forth by moderators because it tells a hard truth. Google fans have become as annoying as hardcore Apple fans. They bought into "don't be evil"--a bit of tongue-in-cheek engineering humor--and built up a religion around the company. Because Google competed with Microsoft, that endeared them to techies who saw themselves as too smart to be using Microsoft products. Because Google used Linux, that endeared them to "M$"-hating nerds who saw Google as part of the open source movement. Android because the rallying cry for cross-armed, anti-social cynics standing in the corner of the party watching the iPhone users socialize.

          Finally, people have begun to wake up to the fact that Google is not what they perceived it to be. Their refusal to implement Do Not Track [wired.com] in Chrome, which would negatively impact their core business of web ads, is one example. Another is the fact that they claim to be all about openness yet withhold the source to Android from non-privileged partners, as well as ship Flash and AAC/MP3 playback in Chrome. They're even using Android compatibility requirements as a way to obstruct phone vendors that choose not to use Google services. And the Street View scandal is interesting because many don't seem to realize they were "accidentally" collecting that data for four years before finally revealing it under pressure from German investigators (Google fans seem to believe that Google stepped forward and admitted it on their own as a gesture of good will).

          However, for so many years, mentioning any of this on tech sites like Slashdot, Reddit, Hacker News, and so on would get you voted down relentlessly by obsessive fans who could not accept any criticism of their hero. Google's purpose in appealing to those crowds--and I wouldn't be surprised if Google employees secretly post here and at other sites to help in this--is to win the support of techie communities, who will then defend them and give them a pass for things that companies like Microsoft could never get away with. It's free advertising.

          The biggest success story, in my opinion, is convincing techies that they are an open source company and making them forget that their core business is built on a closed source search engine. Google are the gatekeepers of the web, a global megacorp that single-handedly regulates web traffic which makes it enormous profits. It doesn't seem to occur to the open source crowd that the web is tied up behind a closed source product that is as closed and proprietary as Windows. You don't have access to the source; you can't view it and see the algorithms it's using; you can't examine how it's using your personal data. For a crowd that's always so vigilant in attacking other companies for being closed, their acceptance of Google is incredible.

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Insightful)

      by n5vb (587569) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:29AM (#37308212)
      The fact that Google is providing a free service has nothing to do with the fact that it's demanding control over how people identify themselves.

      No, you don't have to use G+ if you don't want to. But if they want to be the only channel you can use, then they have to accept that they are at least a de facto common carrier by doing so, whether or not they're considered one in a de jure sense, and by acting like a common carrier, they have certain responsibilities to the people who use G+ to communicate .. and that includes allowing people to identify themselves using their chosen expressions of identity.

      No, the law almost certainly doesn't say that -- because the law doesn't yet address situations like this as far as I know -- but it's consistent with how humans understand communication. And the trend in civil liberties is to place fewer restrictions on expressions of identity, not greater ones. One hopes the law catches up to this understanding soon, but that's the reality. We have the right to determine how people know us, and we have the right not to have that dictated to us based on an arbitrary legal distinction..
      • An example of this is Reverend Fred McFeely Rogers i would bet that the number of folks that know him BY THIS NAME are a lot fewer than the ones that would recognize MR Rogers.

        If 95% of persons polled do not know you by your given name then G+ should allow you to ID as the nickname you are known by.

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:36AM (#37308268)

      Yeah, this analysis goes back to analysis of TV, and is around 40 years old at least. A 1973 broadcast by artist Richard Serra [wikipedia.org], entitled "Television Delivers People" [youtube.com] is one early use of the concept:

      The product of television, commercial television, is the audience.

      Television delivers people to an advertiser.

      [...]

      You are the product of T.V.

      You are delivered to the advertiser who is the customer.

      He consumes you.

      The viewer is not responsible for programming--

      You are the end product.

      (For those interested, he discusses the concept and the reaction it got when it was actually broadcast on TV in this book [amazon.com].)

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Seumas (6865) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:41AM (#37308296)

      My thoughts, exactly. If you listen to radio, you are not the customer -- you're the product. If you watch television, you are not the customer -- you are the product. If you read most magazines (even if you pay for them), you are not a customer -- you're the product. When it comes to media of all kinds, you are the product far more often than you are the client.

      That doesn't mean that privacy shouldn't still be valued, even in free services. It should be. But people need to approach it from the mindset that they are trading something valuable (their eyeballs and their personal data) in exchange. It'd be great if there was an alternative to all of these things, for those who would rather pay a few bucks than give up their "soul", so to speak. Unfortunately, the masses do not want to pay for anything, anywhere and catering to the niche who does is usually not so profitable, as a result.

      As for their naming policy? It's entirely within their right to determine how they intend to curate the culture of their service and if it means there will be less fake names posting ridiculous crap on the service than are doing so on competing services and it will somehow elevate the general level of discourse compared to the competing services, then have at it. (This is not to endorse required identification for using the internet - only for using a particular service that is offered on a website to people on the internet.)

      Of course, as far as a company doing no evil . . . I'm not aware of such a thing.

      • by Rob Y. (110975)

        As a matter of fact, Google has managed to find a way to build a profitable ad-funded business in a way that is about as unobtrusive as we've seen. I'm a somewhat reluctant user of Adblock Plus - I hate the manipulativeness of most advertising, but understand that it funds most of the media I consume. But in the case of Google, I actually find their search ads useful. They are easy to ignore, but when I'm actually searching to buy something, they're right there (along with links to alternatives if I don'

      • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Interesting)

        by advocate_one (662832) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:13PM (#37308984)

        As for their naming policy? It's entirely within their right to determine how they intend to curate the culture of their service and if it means there will be less fake names posting ridiculous crap on the service than are doing so on competing services and it will somehow elevate the general level of discourse compared to the competing services, then have at it. (This is not to endorse required identification for using the internet - only for using a particular service that is offered on a website to people on the internet.)

        They're going to get run out of Germany on a rail if they keep pushing it... the Germans have very long memories of what can be done when your ID can be linked to your actions or what your religion is... Not only Nazi Germany using IBM provided technology to identify Jews and help round them up, But the East German Stasi with their requirements that all typewriters had to be registered with the authorities and samples of text provided... so they could try and track Samizdat newsletters to typists.

        What seems a reasonable request for identification now, can very quickly become a nightmare if the government is taken over by an extreme right or left wing ideology who wish to start rounding up all dissidents

      • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PCM2 (4486) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:55PM (#37309280) Homepage

        My thoughts, exactly. If you listen to radio, you are not the customer -- you're the product. If you watch television, you are not the customer -- you are the product. If you read most magazines (even if you pay for them), you are not a customer -- you're the product. When it comes to media of all kinds, you are the product far more often than you are the client.

        But it's not as simple as that, because nobody is a mindless drone who will watch, listen to, or read anything you put in front of them. A magazine isn't 100 percent advertising (in fact that would be illegal by postal regulations in the U.S.) Advertisers wouldn't try to advertise on a radio station that played nothing but a 50Hz tone all day. And in fact, advertisers pick and choose which markets they target based on the content of that media; you might get a lot of drug companies advertising during 30 Rock, for example, but fewer during House. It's really clever and postmodern to say "the viewer is the product," but it's also not really true. Advertisers are paying for access to specific content, which they think appeals to a market that interests them. They want to reach the customers, true, but in order to do so they rely on the content -- so the content is the product. Or why else do you think media companies spend so much money to produce content -- as a loss leader?

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

      by webmistressrachel (903577) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:53AM (#37308366) Journal

      John Logie Baird was the first to implement television, stop re-writing history you goddamn Yanks!

      • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:04AM (#37308440)
        Rachel, I would like to give you a mod point, but I'd like to make a philosophical point if I may, and I can't do both.

        Philo T Farnsworth invented US television, which is that commercial stuff in which the viewers are the sweetcorn, the advertisers are the buyers, and the TV company is the farmer. John Logie Baird invented British television in which the taxpayer is the customer, pays directly for the product, and elects politicians to keep an eye on things. That's quite different, as well as being a whole lot better.

        • John Logie Baird - Invented a commercial system we don't use

          Philo T Farnsworth - Invented a commercial system we don't use

          The modern system was invented by several people using ideas (stolen) from both the above, and applied to both free to air, and commercial stations, based upon and run by the Radio broadcasters of the time all of who used the same models of you are the product ...

          By the way British TV is a mixture of commercial and the BBC Corporation (Government funded, but not government run)... and yo

    • by AJZ (588720)

      Ditto to what Trepidity and Seumas said. But I have questions. The article has a quote: "If you’re not paying for it, then you’re the product being sold." So: I just installed OpenBSD on some hardware I had lying around. You see where this is going.

      I didn't buy the CD set (yet). It's about an 80% chance that I will now, and 99% if I turn the box into a packet filter as planned.

      Questions:
      (1) In what way am I the product being sold (by OpenBSD)?
      (2) If I'm not "the product", then how can I tell? I'

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The fact that something happens and is known, by those who make the effort to think about it, to happen does not make it reasonable, fair or acceptable.

      The fact that there are other companies which do even worse things doesn't make it good either. Nor does it matter that the evil company has a slogan which implies that it will do no evil, if they still do evil.

      Comments like this, "You don't have to use Google if you don't want to." are breathtakingly dumb (surely you're just trolling? mensababe?). When use

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:09AM (#37308484)

      You don't have to use Google if you don't want to.

      Yeah and you can email your resume in .tex format for jobs too because you hate Microsoft and Adobe. If the only way you can successfully advertise your product online is through advertising companies like Google, then you have little "choice". I suppose a child like you has to learn about lock-in caused by network effects. Don't worry you can leave the thinking to others if it hurts your brain.

      • "If the only way you can successfully advertise..."

        It's not, therefore you have "choice". I don't use their search engine and I don't use any of their other products and never have. Apparently my ability to wander life unimpeded by my lack of "choices" is greater than yours.

        I would instead suppose that a child like you has to learn that economics as taught in a sociology class doesn't actually work.

        "lock-in caused by network effects".... That was a tell.
    • by sphealey (2855)

      > You don't have to use Google if you don't want to.

      That's really not true. It is becoming essentially impossible to get a job, deal with a hospital, open a utility account, enroll in a school, etc etc etc without having a solid accessible e-mail address and using a variety of web services. You might be able to escape one of the big providers (e.g. Google) but you essentially cannot function in a modern society and escape them all.

      sPh

  • Marketing 123 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ge7 (2194648) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:15AM (#37308138)
    It shows that the "omg free stuff" marketing works to people. People also go crazy about coupons and all kinds of "give us permission to spa.. mail you and get these cool things" offers and everything else. Even many slashdotters go to great lengths to defense Google just because their stuff is free (and you don't need to use it if you don't want to!!). At the same time they're ranting how government and companies are violating their privacy, when they're themselves whoring it out.
    • It's not just because Google's stuff is free, so much as that it's free and works well.

      I wouldn't use Windows on a home computer even if it was free. I do have a Hotmail account, but it's no longer my primary address.

    • Opinions about Google are starting to change.

      On my part, I was never particularly crazy about them. I use the search engine, have an unused gmail account and that's about it. Right now I'm seriously starting to ponder how to avoid them as much as possible.

      Unfortunately they have the one more or less decent phone OS left, so now I'm pondering if it's possible to get an Android phone devoid of anything Google related.

    • by Tharsman (1364603)

      Heck complaining about government violating privacy is to be expected! The true hypocrisy (or sheephood) comes when they call out Facebook for privacy violations while defending Google at every corner.

    • Re:Marketing 123 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:02PM (#37308892) Homepage

      It shows that the "omg free stuff" marketing works to people.

      It doesn't work on you, though, right? You're too smart for that stuff.

      But oh, wait... what's this? Look at the site you're posting on. Slashdot is a "free" website supported by ads. You are not Slashdot's customer, you are their product. Same thing, and you fell for it. So of course many Slashdotters will defend the ad-supported model. If you were truly against the ad-supported model, you wouldn't be reading this site.

  • by advocate_one (662832) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:20AM (#37308158)
    as they've disabled my account until I can prove who I am... ridiculous as all details on the account are correct and I'm not using a pseudonym or weird punctuation or daft middle name either for it...

    So don't think it can't happen to you, as it has to me and I was following their rules

    • by ge7 (2194648)
      At least Facebook only requires you to provide valid verified phone number or credit card. If someone reports you for fake name on Google they ask you to send them scan of your passport or ID card. Via internet. Anyone can guess which is just so much more insecure.
      • by advocate_one (662832) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:26AM (#37308194)
        FB require a scan of real ID now [facebook.com]... I'm currently going through the process

        Disabled account appeal-ID request

        In order to reactivate your account we will first need to verify the authenticity of your account. Please fill out the following form and we will re-evaluate your account status.

        Your email address:

        The email address where you can be reached. If you are able to access your login email address, enter that here.

        Full name:

        on the account

        Date of birth:

        Your login email address:

        Please upload a government-issued ID to this report and make sure that your full name, date of birth and photo are clear. You should also black out any personal information that is not needed to verify your identity (e.g. social security number).

        If you do not have access to a scanner, a digital image of your photo ID will be accepted as well. Rest assured that we will permanently delete your ID from our servers once we have used it to verify the authenticity of your account.

        ID attachment:

        Select a file from your computer to upload your identification. (Supported formats: .jpg, .jpeg, .tiff, .pdf or .doc)

        Note that writing in and submitting your ID multiple times will not result in a faster response. Once you submit your initial request, it is placed in a queue and responded to accordingly. We appreciate your patience and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

        • by tomhudson (43916) <.moc.nosduh-arab ... .nosduh.arabrab.> on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:58AM (#37308392) Journal

          The export of Canadian personal information outside the country is governed by PIPEDA. Google simply doesn't have the right to demand any personal info be sent to their servers outside the country's borders. This is effectively the same legislation that Germany later copied.

          Also, government-issued ID is not to be used as "identification." The social insurance card numbers are ONLY to be given to employers and government agencies, and, at your option, to your bank (unless you have an interest-bearing account) - and it doesn't have a photo. The universal medicare card, which has a photo, is also not to be used anywhere except when dealing with medical services such as hospitals and pharmacies.

          That leaves your drivers license - IF you have a drivers license. And even that is classified as "personal identifying information".

          • The export of Canadian personal information outside the country is governed by PIPEDA. Google simply doesn't have the right to demand any personal info be sent to their servers outside the country's borders. This is effectively the same legislation that Germany later copied.

            True, but Google is under no obligation to provide services to people who don't provide the requested information.

            While I don'y like Google's policy, I also don't like any government dictating to a company they must provide services - if Google doesn't like CDN's rules they can leave.

            I'd be very surprised if there wasn't a caveat in the law allowing voluntarily providing the information.

            • by tomhudson (43916) <.moc.nosduh-arab ... .nosduh.arabrab.> on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:01PM (#37308880) Journal

              if Google doesn't like CDN's rules they can leave.

              Facebook was "invited" to leave if they didn't change their rules. They changed their rules. It was shortly after Canada refused to back down that the EU decided to do the same thing.

              I'd be very surprised if there wasn't a caveat in the law allowing voluntarily providing the information.

              You might want to look at "contracts of adhesion", aka "standard contracts [wikipedia.org]" , "boilerplate" or "take-it-or-leave-it" contracts. The law is different (and this also applies in the US) - ALL clauses in such contracts are always to be interpreted in the other party's favor, and the party cannot give up their statutory rights.

              Google is wrong with their policy, plain and simple, and that's why there is so much push-back.

            • by canajin56 (660655) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:17PM (#37309024)

              True, but Google is under no obligation to provide services to people who don't provide the requested information.

              Yes, they are. As you said, if they don't like Canada, they can kindly shutter their buildings and leave the fucking country. There are two parts to PIPEDA. The first is that a corporation cannot do ANYTHING with any information collected about a person unless that person has SIGNED a form indicating approval for that EXACT use. The second is that business cannot refuse to do business with somebody who doesn't want to "voluntarily" share personal information. You might be fine with BestBuy and such requiring (oh, sorry, you doublethink'd "require" into "mandatory request") you to turn over your email, phone number, and address in order to buy a cable, but in Canada we put a stop to that retarded practice. Stores have tried to skirt it "We need that information for our service of contacting you for recalls!" "I don't want that service" "It's mandatory!" it didn't go well for them.

        • Actually, it is now forbidden to make a scan of the new German identity card (with very narrow exceptions). [wikipedia.org] [German Wikipedia link; the English Wikipedia entry doesn't seem to contain that information]

          In other words, if you already have the new identity card and provide a scan to Facebook, you break the law.

      • weird...with me I just needed to provide a credit card.

      • by Inda (580031)
        That's interesting because copying your passport is illegal in the UK. Same is true for your drivers license.
        • by cellocgw (617879)

          That's interesting because copying your passport is illegal in the UK. Same is true for your drivers license
          I suspect that in this case, "copy" is not the same as "image." Certainly in the USA, it's illegal to make a copy (counterfeit item passing as real) of yr license, but quite legal to send a scanned image (not even close to pretending to be real).

          • No image is illegal as well, you do not own your passport or driving licence it belongs to a government agency

            They own the copyright and all control of it (so they can remove it if they need to)

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Maybe someone can explain to me this still on-going fascination with "social networking" sites? Maybe I out grew it when I lived through the explosion of mIRC and ICQ.

  • Responsibility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brusk (135896) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:24AM (#37308176)

    I'm unaware of any company that feels responsible to their product.

    That's rather unimaginative. Lots of companies (or rather the people who run them) do show some responsibility toward their product. The first example that comes to mind is animal breeders: the good ones care about the animals they raise and have ethical standards in how they treat them, even when they are going to be sold as food (all the more so when they are going to become pets). Many artists certainly feel responsible toward their product, even when they sell it.

    To what extent is this true of Google? Time will tell, but it's unproductive to say that because they are in this to make money it's impossible for them to be responsible. The real question is what combination of public visibility/pressure, economic incentives, and regulation will lead to optimal outcomes.

    • by Brucelet (1857158)
      I hope fore our sake that the better analogy here is dog breeders and not beef farmers.
    • Re:Responsibility (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:42AM (#37308298)

      The closer the "boss" of a company is to the product, the more he cares about the quality. Hence I prefer to buy at small shops to huge corporations. Not only is my 200 bucks purchase important to the small shop while it's at best peanuts to the corporation that writes its balance in thousands of USD because else the numbers get too big to manage. The shop owner also cares about his shop and its reputation, he will make sure that his employees are going to represent it well and they will care about word of mouth. Nobody working at a huge corporation gives half a shit about its reputation or whether the company is doing well or flounders.

      Be honest: Do you care about the company you work for? I don't. My current employer is a huge, faceless corp without any personal investment from anyone working there. Why should I? It was something completely different when I worked in a much smaller (~20 people) company, I knew the boss on a first name base because he sat an office away from me, and I could see how much he worked to make the company a success, and it encouraged and motivated me to do the same. I wanted him to succeed because I saw how he did his best to make the company a success, and I admire people who put their heart and sweat behind something.

      Currently? I couldn't care less whether they sink or swim. If they go down, I hop on the next train. IT sec is currently on the rise, it's not like I will be out of a job any time soon.

      • by grumling (94709)

        Maybe not the company, but our customers DO matter to me. I work for them, the company is just a broker for my services.

    • I'm unaware of any company that feels responsible to their product.

      The example that sprang to my mind was recruitment agents. As a contractor, I'm the kind of product that recruitment agents deal in. I don't know whether they feel responsible to me, as such, but I'm pretty sure they're aware of the fact that I will cease to be their product if I feel that they are not operating sufficiently in my interests. I expect that Google is somewhat aware of that dynamic, as relates to its own "product", although they aren't showing too much evidence of it with the G+ thing. Mind yo

  • by Gavin Scott (15916) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:29AM (#37308210)

    It's the same as it has always been with commercial television, which most people don't understand either.

    The vendor is the commercial broadcaster.
    The customer is the advertiser.
    The product is the viewer's soul which is sold to the advertiser in 30 second increments.

    If you're not paying for something, take time to consider that maybe *you* are what's being sold.

    Paying real money is very often the lowest cost way to get something.

    There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

    G.

    • by andydread (758754)
      If Google is selling my identity(Private Information) to their affiliates why is it that my phone is not getting blown up Google's affiliates. Why aren't they blowing up my email? Why aren't they flooding my postal mailbox with their offers? I think all this "ZOMG Google is selling your information to advertisers" seems quite alarmist. If Google converts my private info to some unique ID that Google then target me for their advertisers then I have no problem with that. I am not sure they are giving(s
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The TV networks only traffic'd in viewers in aggregate form, e.g. college-educated males aged 18-34 watch "Seinfeld" in such-and-such proportions.

    Google will use an ever-growing variety of tools to determine exactly what each man, woman, and child in the entire world is doing, thinking, buying, selling, and traveling to on a moment-by-moment basis, whether they're explicitly logged in or not. And this data will be stored, replicated, indexed, data mined, and peddled for at least the next 150 years. It wil

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:35AM (#37308258)

      Google is not "more evil". They just have the better tools, if NBCBSwhatever had the tools, they'd do EXACTLY the same.

      Companies see you as a way to make money. By selling to you, or by selling you. Either is fine by them.

  • by repetty (260322)

    Well, "Duh." Same for TV and radio. It's a REALLY old business model.

    Here's what I taught my kids, growing up: Follow the money.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:34AM (#37308240)

    It's been the staple of "free" commercial TV. You, the viewer, are not the "valued customer". You're the product, to be sold to the ad companies. Why the outcry now?

    I don't think it's good or that I feel like it's ok to "sell" me, but, people, if you really just noticed that now, I wonder where you've been the last 50 years.

    • by tqk (413719)

      I don't think it's good or that I feel like it's ok to "sell" me, but, people, if you really just noticed that now, I wonder where you've been the last 50 years.

      Newspapers have been doing it for a lot longer than 50 years. The purchase price of a newspaper has been subsidized by ad revenue since almost day one.

      As for Google (or anyone/anything) selling my details as simply one nameless data point within a large demographic, meh. We all aggregate data about the world around us all the time in order to function in it at all. Google just found a way to milk it better than anyone else so far.

      What I do resent is those entities that're stuffing my data into RDBs, then

  • Oh well... Nothing we can really do about it. Ive been using google mail for my main email account for some time now. It will be hard to replace it specially because of the aggregation/generic mail client features. But I guess I have to, since in google's book I am with my extremely stable(15+ years in use) pseudonym a persona non grata. Many people have extremely good reasons for using pseudonyms. I'm not one of them. I simply chose a different name to live my creative/online life under and I intend to kee
  • Is the poster and TFA seriously proposing we can use the newspeak-marketing-BS from a sales brochure to evaluate the ethically values of a large multinational corporation?

    Would it make a difference if the same marketing-BS-brochure stated that freebee end users were the customers?

    Trusting hot air marketing text = fail! No matter what you conclusion is.

    - Jesper
  • by vegaspctech (769513) <vegaspctech@yahoo.com> on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:35AM (#37308256) Homepage Journal
    Google's naming policy strikes me as a non-issue. It won't prevent anyone from publishing indirectly, by way of an out-of-area friend, which is safer option anyway if you're posting about a government that wishes to silence you. It seems to me that worst case, it creates an opening for Google's competitors. Last I checked there were still many of those. Were it a government decision it'd be a different matter.
    • by Inda (580031)

      I feel the same.

      I have the following people (names changed slightly to protect the abusers) in my circles: Maccy Dee; Dave JustDave, Darque Matter. Obviously not their real names.

      Does Google really care?
  • by Anubis350 (772791) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:36AM (#37308262)
    ...is that to most people that's free.
  • Google is the modern equivalent of a huge, integrated television network, perhaps what in the past might have been a combined NBC/CBS.

    It's pricey output, the things it spends its money on, from Google Maps to search to Google + to bandwidth are today's equivalent of tentpole programming like Ed Sullivan, Bonanza, The Tonight Show, Roots etc,. Its product of course, is viewers, us in other words, who are bundled and sold to advertisers in essentially the same fashion the TV networks did in the sixties.

    Surely

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Except that for television networks you specifically had to opt into giving them information, through ratings tracking companies.

      Yes, Google's business model is just like an over-the-air TV network's. Except that Google has much more information about us, is now in charge of many or most of the communication channels we use to talk to each other, AND effectively controls much of the information we receive. So Google is kind of like the television networks, newspapers, postal service, phone company and gov

      • by Trepidity (597)

        Yeah, it's more problematic mostly in that they can now sell an individualized product with your specific details. Television sells an aggregate product instead. They need to know something about their demographics in order to sell you to advertisers, but they only need to know the information in aggregate, because: 1) they can't separately target different ads to different viewers, only on a per-show basis; and 2) they can't get detailed information anyway, but only samples and extrapolations from things l

      • You have to opt in for Google to get any information beyond your IP address, they are in charge of many of the communication channels you use if you choose to use those they control and they effectively control much of the information that you receive through them. How does any of that make them remarkably different from News Corp., Microsoft, Verizon or the like?
  • by SplatMan_DK (1035528) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:53AM (#37308362) Homepage Journal

    'I'm unaware of any company that feels responsible to their product.

    First of all that says more about him than Google. Most companies are.proud of their products.

    The end users are not the product. The product is "exposure" - page views if you will - and the end users are the suppliers of that product.

    Google, just like any other company, can't screw its suppliers without consequence.

    - Jesper

  • Advertisers don't care what your name is as long as they know what you are likely to buy. If my name is Joe Schmoe that tells them nothing more about my buying habits. Now, if they can say my handle is twerpmeister67 on hamstersrock.com, then they have something they can sell to advertisers. Petsmart can try to sell me corn cob bedding, or whatever.

    Better yet, let people have multiple handles, just like they do already. Tying those together, but allowing them to be separate in the consumers mind would be the best of both worlds. That way people can surf around however they want (e.g. Justin Bieber fansites) and not be worried about being outed as some kind of weirdo later. Say your trying to play video games with your kids or something. You don't want unsavory Bieber adverts popping up when you're looking for a fun game of Dinowaurs. Instead, you want to see advertisements for more dinosaur stuff or similar games.

    It really seems like Google is missing the mark here. Advertisers, too. But honestly, I'm not that surprised.

  • As a prospective vendor of Google, I would like to dictate my terms for delivery of the product. Namely (1) my private information is not part of the deal, Google's not to be allowed to sell or redistribute that further without my permission, and (2) I demand to be fairly compensated in the form of payment in cash from Google to provide the product of eyes to view customers' AdWords ad.

    • by andydread (758754)
      Its very easy. Just don't use ANY of Google's. Plain and simple. Or maybe you could PAY Google for the use of their services. How bout that?
  • by artor3 (1344997) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:03AM (#37308436)

    "You are the product! Ooga-booga-booga!!1"

    It's just a sound-byte meant to whip you into an outrage by equivocating advertising with slavery.

    Company X provides a product.
    You, the customer, pay for it with tiny portions of your time.
    Company X then sells those bits of time to other companies.

    You are not being sold. You are willingly looking at a few ads in exchange for a product. I know outrage feels good. It's like a drug. But find something real to be outraged over.

    • by grumling (94709)

      GOOGLE PLUS IS PEOPLE!

    • You are not being sold. You are willingly looking at a few ads in exchange for a product. I know outrage feels good. It's like a drug. But find something real to be outraged over.

      I don't mind looking at a few ads, or even targeted ads. But when they target them based on un-anonymized personal interests/activities and who people know and sell that info to advertisers, that's basically selling a 'named' person's social life.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by andydread (758754)
      I makes me wonder who is really behind this "You are the product" theme that is recently appearing on blogs and discussion groups. We know there are some unscrupulous entities that are very efficient at spreading false outrage about their competitors behind the scenes. I remember a particular entity that was doing a similar thing with the "ZOMG Open Source offers no indemnity" meme. That same entity was also responsible for rounding up competitors of Google to file antitrust complaints against Google
    • No.

      In Google's case, it goes into everything they do. Including GoogleTV and Android. Which is pretty fucking crass.

      If it weren't for GTV and Android doing this, I'd probably be OK with it.

    • by ookabooka (731013)

      ookabooka. It's just ookabooka, no caps/hyphens.

    • by Graymalkin (13732)

      Looking at ads is not the problem with Google's policies. They're not just showing you ads but tracking every move you make on the Internet. They not only have the ability but correlate that data with search history and browsing patterns. They scan through all of your email and correlate all of that data with the search and traffic data.

      So you're not just looking at ads but having your behavior and history analyzed. Google is a publicly traded company and has been charged by their investors to maximize prof

  • Repeat after me: There ain't no such thing as a free lunch

  • This is no different than commercial radio or television. A station owner drafts programming that will attract a demographic that's desirable to a chosen set of advertisers. The radio listeners or television viewers are a unit of exchange between the station and the advertisers. Users are fodder, not customers.
  • I do NOT care! I know I am a product to google and radio station and tv channels and I don't care because I don't use them.

    Do you think slashdot is any different? Samzenpus, were does your salary come from? Readers or advertisers? Anything that sells more views is a go right? That is why headlines are often widely inaccurate and story angled chosen to raise the maximum ire so there will be lots of ads impressions.

    Google isn't making a soap box it isn't making the next facebook, it has seen linkedin and like

  • The guy writes an article slamming Google, but right at the top of the page is a +1 button.

    Don't read the article! He's turning you into a product!

  • Amazon has had an even more strict Real Name feature, with respect to product reviews at least, for some time now. Why isn't there a bigger outcry about that, I wonder? I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear later that the Google+ identity system is intended for exactly the same purpose, to "add value" to consumer product reviews. Google isn't doing it right, whatever the intention.

  • Yeah, and I don't want to be just a "resource" to my employer either. Yet the HR department won that one ages ago.
  • Uh no. People selling shit don't need your full identity. If google is selling your identity to anyone, it's government, or someone who would be the government. People selling shit only need to know if you're the same guy who had these interests yesterday so they can pitch you the same shit today.

  • That's how they make money, I don't see any search engines out there charging you money to find stuff, someone else has to pay for it. Bloody astroturders.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday September 05, 2011 @01:54PM (#37309602) Homepage

    Schmidt is insistent that Google has the right to know who their users are. On the other hand, Google doesn't do proper due diligence on their customers, the ones who buy ads. That just cost them a $500 million fine [nytimes.com] to the Department of Justice for running phony pharmaceutical ads. (Those supposed "Canadian pharmacies" often aren't real pharmacies at all, and many are not in Canada. DOJ went after Google because an investigation into some Mexican drug dealer was also running an offshore pharmacy.)

    Because of Google's "we don't care who you are" policy about advertisers, Google has become the advertising system for a wide range of scams [benedelman.org]: typosquatting [benedelman.org], adware, ads for free stuff that's not free, ads for counterfeit software, and mortgage modification scams. Prof. Benjamin Edelman at the Harvard Business School [benedelman.org] estimates that Google makes about $25 million a year from ads for spyware and adware, about $6 million a year from ads for "credit repair" scams, and about $100 million a year by allowing competing trademarks as search keywords (that last is being litigated.)

    Most of those scams depend on advertiser anonymity. Business aren't entitled to privacy. Even in the European Union, which has privacy rights for individuals, businesses don't get that right. The European Directive on Electronic Commerce [europa.eu] is very clear about that. Google has the right to demand proof of business identity from advertisers, and to demand that the advertiser disclose the actual name and address from which the business is conducted on their web site. Google doesn't do this, which makes Google the scammer's friend, and in some cases, as they just discovered expensively, an accomplice to criminal activity.

    Google claimed to the DOJ that they cleaned up their act [googlemonitor.com] on drug ads. Let's see. Search for "no prescription diet pills" [google.com]. See a Google ad for "Phentremine 37.5 mg HCL - As low as $30. Free Shipping. www.phentreminediet.com No subscriptions, or hidden cost.". There it is, right at the top of the page, in prime position, a drug ad run by Google. This is a fake drug scam site. It's a form of drug typosquatting; the real drug is spelled "phentermine". The site has a Google Checkout seal (which may be fake) and a BBBonline seal (which is fake). Yet Google is running that ad.

    Prof. Edelman says it better than I can: "I have long doubted Google's claims of innocence. For one, Google has an obvious incentive to allow deceptive and unlawful ads: each extra ad means extra revenue -- an ad in lieu of white space, or an extra competitor encouraging other advertisers to bid that much higher. Furthermore, unlawful and deceptive ads have been widespread; I found dozens in just a few hours of work. Meanwhile, it's hard to reconcile Google's engineering strength -- capably indexing billions of pages and tabulating billions of links -- with the company's supposed inability to identify new advertisements mentioning or targeting a few dozen terms known to deceive consumers. From these facts, I could only suspect what the DOJ investigation now confirms: Unlawful ads persist at Google not just because advertisers seek to be listed, but also because Google intentionally lets them stay and even offers them special assistance."

Too much of everything is just enough. -- Bob Wier

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