Is Google’s New Privacy Policy Really Beneficial?


Several weeks ago, Google announced their new privacy policy, and on March 1st, they’ll begin to consolidate the policies of their separate entities, including Gmail, YouTube, Google Plus, Blogspot, etc…  What this means is that Google will now be able to use data it collects from users in one area across all of its platforms.

So why is this happening? Google is getting ready to amp up its data mining to compete with its main rival Facebook, which has become a massive marketing and sociological goldmine for companies interested in exactly how to sell or launch their new product. A major proportion of Google’s income comes from advertising and these new policies will allow them to diversify their portfolio and really go head to head with Facebook in the Web 2.0 data wars.

As soon as the announcement came so did the immediate backlash. The main argument people have against this new policy is that there’s no way they can opt out of it. Although Facebook also utilizes a myriad of confusing jargon concerning user data, there is usually some sort of method or box to be checked that allows you to at least somewhat control your flow of information. Another aspect of Google’s new policies that also left users up in arms was their inclusion of your Google + information within their search results. That would be the equivalent of everything you post on your Facebook wall immediately becoming visible to anyone who happened to know or search your username.

The benefits of Google’s new policies will definitely create a more seamless and integrated experience across their multiple platforms, and for someone who isn’t that concerned with privacy policies, it could actually make their Web experience easier and more streamlined.  More importantly, one of the main negative aspects is do you really want your personal and business worlds to collide? You might have a 9-5 corporate job, but do you want your boss to see your Heavy Metal blog?  Is it really beneficial for all of your business contacts to see what you were watching till 3 A.M. on YouTube?  Once these changes go into effect it’s going to become harder and harder to create an online separation between your personal and your professional life.  Not to mention, what about when your personality changes? The online ephemera of your 13-year-old self is completely different and worlds away from whom you are now as a 30-something.

Although Google announced that you can still opt out by logging out from YouTube, etc…but will that really work or will it limit your potential online opportunities?  You can use Hotmail instead of Gmail, but then you would lose the networking capabilities of Google +. You could use Vimeo to upload and share videos, but compared to the daily 4 billion video views on YouTube, you would be missing out on the largest video market share on the web.

What Google has accomplished, as many feared as their size has grown exponentially, is that although their technology has created an all immersive easy to use experience, once you’re not completely satisfied with it, the options you’re left with are very often inferior. It’ll be really interesting to see as the months and years go on after this new privacy policy is put into effect whether or not people will start drifting away from their services, or if they’ll realize that no matter what you use online, at least some of your privacy is compromised, and that’s just become the norm in a world where so many aspects of our personal and business lives are increasingly conducted online.

This is a great article from the Washington Post that explains the ins and outs of the new Google Privacy Policy.

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