October 15, 2013
Google+ Users Are Being Rather ‘Schmidty’
Alan McStravick for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
“Hi there. Our new Terms of Service updates how we display your information in content & ads.” This banner is what I was met with when I recently brought up Google’s Search Engine. And this new TOS update, with the affirmation of its intention to employ profile names and photographs in targeted advertising, is garnering attention from media outlets and, in a creative bit of cyber protestation, from Google+’s own users.
Google, in their TOS update explanation, is trying to paint what is widely perceived as an unnecessary intrusion into user’s privacy, as something fun and helpful. “We want to give you – and your friends and connections – the most useful information. Recommendations from people you know can really help,” goes Google’s statement. “So your friends, family and others may see your Profile name and photo, and content like the reviews you share or the ads you +1’d.” Not everyone sees it as rosily as Google, however.
In the 2002 Steven Spielberg film Minority Report, great pains were taken to show how only a half century into the future the individual’s right to privacy would be nearly completely dissolved. And this concept, somewhat foreign at the beginning of the last decade to the population at large, has advanced into reality at a seemingly exponential rate. The trend was far from foreign, however, to a small band of futurists and philosophers, architects and others assembled by Spielberg to help him craft as likely and believable a futurescape as could be created.
In a June 2002 interview with Salon.com, MIT Media’s John Underkoffler spoke specifically to his influence in presenting the advertising scenario experienced by future citizens in that film. “That idea was integral from the very beginning…the idea that your privacy was really a thing of the past, that the pure market forces had long since eroded everyone’s intimate civil liberties.”
Many are questioning how Google thinks they will be immune from the same prosecution and penalties experienced by Facebook in 2011 when, in response to their failed “sponsored stories” program, they were compelled by the courts to pay out $20M to users whose images they used in a targeted advertising scheme.
In advance of Google’s planned rollout of their new TOS on November 11, some inventive tactics have been adopted by those who wish to protest this latest intrusion on their privacy by another mega-corporation. Instead of allowing their image to be used for the financial gain of others without remuneration to themselves, many have opted to change their profile picture from one of themselves to an image of a person who is directly profiting from this new update.
By doing this, these users will be able to +1 businesses and products to their hearts content while ensuring the endorsing punim will be that of Google’s Executive Chairman, Mr. Schmidt. Several Google+ users, when changing their profile photos, expressed their displeasure with the new update saying, “Eric can feel free to endorse anything he likes. Not me. No Thanks,” and, “Google can use #EricSchmidt #photo for #advertising as much as it wants, not mine.” For the next month, we’ll take a wait-and-see approach to see just how effective this cyber-protest will be.