Google and Privacy

by Mar 20, 2012Tech3 comments

Every once in a while I give in to the temptation to write an assertive post despite believing firmly that there must be an alternative perspective of which I am unaware. I’m afraid I’m bowing to the rules of the blog genre: I’m posting this despite my ignorance. (I’m not quite following the rules of the genre, however, because I have waited a long time to post this.)

Here’s the issue: Internet privacy. I have never been able to figure out why some people object to Google or Facebook collecting data from their searches in order to customize their advertisements. I’m not ashamed of the things I search for, and if I have to see ads I’d rather see ads that are relevant to me. The more the relevance, hopefully, the better the deals.

And might not products go down in price if advertisers were able to be more efficient with their spending because they are more targeted in their reach?

And don’t ads fund the free services I have come to rely so heavily on?

As I said this very day to a pastor having severe trouble typing in the URL for my design site, the only explanation I can find for some people’s tech habits is a pre-1980 birth date. (Thankfully, the pastor laughed.)

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  1. Luke Seelenbinder

    I thought the same thing for a long time. Then I read an article (I couldn’t find it in my archives, or I would link it) that changed my mind.

    The scary thing isn’t the *individual* information; it is the collective. For example, Facebook has the largest database of Jews, Christians, Conservatives, Liberals, &tc in the world. While this information might be advertising dollars to Facebook, in the wrong hands, it could be ridiculously dangerous.

    Not to be a sensationalist: I use Facebook, Google’s many services, Twitter and ilk without blinking an eye. I just know the dangers a bit better.

  2. Jeremy Patterson

    I’m not that concerned about privacy. I use Google all the time. I don’t use Twitter or Facebook for purely personal reasons: I don’t see a need for them in my life, and fear I would waste time if I had them. But I don’t think that applies to everyone (e.g., my wife, who makes great use of Facebook).

    The only thing that I’m concerned about when it comes to privacy is diversity, kind of like a stock portfolio. If one of these companies has all (or a majority) of our private information, beyond just search results, then I think that could be a huge problem, as Luke alludes to. I think most things that matter about privacy (family details, current location, etc.) we can still control if we feel the need.

    • Mark L Ward Jr

      Good points, everybody. Find that article for us, Luke! =)

      One additional thought: these companies have what I would call a pretty major economic incentive to maintain our privacy. If there were a major breach, business could drop precipitously.

      Governmental intrusion is possible, and there’s that case in China a few years back…