Why I’m antisocial with Google.

I mostly trust Google, I really do — it’s the rest of you I’ve a problem with.

It’s kind of a scary thing for this freedom-loving Canadian to hand over his address book and day-timer to an American company whose core competency is data mining, and who’s but one subpoena away from handing over everything they know about me to Homeland Security. But so far my experience with Google and their Android OS has been very, very good.

However, just as I keep my phone number a closely-guarded secret lest it leak out into the wild to telemarketers everywhere, the Google account I use as my Android login is not something I freely share. There’s no public profile, no Picasa Web Albums, no Google Buzz or shared Reader items. Nor is there likely to be anytime soon.

It’s not even that I’m worried about my Google account getting hacked… it’s more that I find the company’s social products somehow invasive. For example, I’m thrilled to read links that other bloggers share with me via Identi.ca and Twitter, but having to read those same items in my Google Reader cue is a chore — quite possibly because at any given time I’ve over a hundred other feeds to blast through.

Were it up to me I’d go so far as to reposition the Google experience as the opposite of Facebook; where the latter encourages you to share everything and friend everyone, Google could quite easily kill off the social stuff (Anyone use Buzz instead of Twitter? Didn’t think so…) and reinforce the largely fantastic experience they deliver with just you and your data — which is yours to take with you at any time, by the way.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that not everything on the Internet has to be a social network. And for me, because of the sensitive information in use, Google products are best suited to a more intimate experience.

Hope you understand…


  1. AC:
    I think it’s quite understandable…

    I have a number of Google accounts, mostly for privacy purposes and to have my email pre-sorted by having dedicated accounts for various things–Yahoo group messages to one, sign-up emails to another, friends and family only, etc. I also use POP and generally don’t log into Google directly, but I’m sure somewhere Google knows I’m the owner of these accounts and where I access them from.

    Whenever I do log into Gmail directly, I get a small reminder of the precarious state of my privacy when the Gmail interface generates a list of matching email addresses when filling in the To field–even though I don’t have any contacts in my Google account. My messages are all there, ready to be scanned, whether I used Gmail or my mail apps.

    I’m finding that privacy dictates what I do with social media more and more, to the point that I keep my various accounts separated. Just to be social, I suppose….


  2. AC:
    Thought you’d like to know something I discovered about the Google app I installed on my JebusPhone a few weeks ago.

    I routinely clear my Safari’s history, cookies, and cache to keep the limited HD space uncluttered (and to clean out any passwords I use online as I haven’t opted to lock the phone), but I noticed that my Google searches were still there after cleaning up on the weekend. I tried clearing things again, but when I opened my browser, the last Google search was still there. Yes, it was the search that wouldn’t leave…

    I went into the Google app and discovered it has its own privacy and history settings–had to shut them off there before my last search finally disappeared.

    So… for anyone using the Google app on their phone, be aware that your browser privacy settings aren’t enough–the app has its own settings that override anything you do with the browser.


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