Google announced today that they will be combining over 60 privacy policies into one main policy. What this means is that starting March 1, 2012, a person using any one of Google’s vast products will automatically be signed into the rest of them.
Ever been asked if you wanted to sign into your Picasa or Blogger account with your Gmail address? Well, now you don’t have a choice. The point of the policy, claims Google, is to provide “a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience.” In reality, it’s to bombard us with specifically targeted advertisements and recommendations, encouraging the further use of Google products and our credit cards.
This action by Google is clearly intended to compete with Facebook and Apple, who already use targeted recommendations on their sidebar advertisements. Ever wonder why after you “liked” Maroon 5’s fan page, ads began popping up with every log-in about Maroon 5 concerts and band t-shirts? It’s no coincidence- the network is closely watching your interests.
Now, the same concept will apply to Google products. Say you YouTube a bunch of *NSYNC videos because you happen to wake up with “Bye Bye Bye” stuck in your head. The next time you go to log into Gmail, ads about Lance Bass’ newest movie role and Justin Timberlake’s fashion line are nearly jumping off your screen. No way to hide your love for the boy band now!
Not to mention there is absolutely NO way to opt-out of this “privacy” policy. I personally find it a bit creepy and intrusive to assume that just because I have a Gmail account, I want to be linked into YouTube, Google Earth, and Picasa all at the same time and under the same e-mail address. The internet is a public network, yes, but I strongly believe there should be options as to how much you wish to get involved in websites. And having advertisements follow your interests and search items? Sounds like serious stalking to me.
Despite all opinions, Google does plan to send out an e-mail to users outlining the legitimate contents of the new policy, and explaining it all in further detail. No doubt some users will think it’s the greatest idea since the creation of the search engine itself. But if you think Google’s ads know more about you than your BFF, they probably do.