There has been a lot of buzz about Google Plus, and I have finally gotten a chance to look it over, and I have to say that my initial take is to be fundamentally opposed. I don’t like the idea of having so many eggs in one basket caused by Google’s grand unification plan of you.
A few people have told me that, being a Mac user, I should already be used to that idea because it means that complete and seamless integration generally means using all Apple products. Google, meanwhile is trying to be a unifying suite of products in the digital realm, but their product is YOUR LIFE, which they will let you organize for free by usurping ownership over your life. It’s funny that Google (and everyone else) hammers Facebook for its breaches and flippant disregard for privacy of your information, but at least Facebook doesn’t claim that they OWN your information. Google’s terms of service fall just short of saying that they own everything about you that you care to reveal, write, or show through any of their services.
And consider this case: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/bsdnia
Here is a person who was a complete Google disciple who essentially ceased to exist because his identity was tied up in Google’s platform, and they (errantly, I might add) shut it off. Boom. Say goodbye to Robert. With other “cloud” platforms, like Apple’s, you own the data, the photos, the information, the music, etc. And you pay them for the means to control it and use it as you wish. By making everything “free,” Google assumes that this lets them off the hook from having to provide any sort of customer service or accountability to their “customers.”
And they already consider you a customer, by the way, whether you know about it or not. Google has released some pretty heavy numbers about how fast their service has taken off, and how many millions they have, and how quickly people are jumping on board, but part of the reason they can claim these numbers is because they are including all the “pre-approved” customers, which is anyone who has a Gmail account, Picasa account, or anything else that allows them to pre-create an online identity into which Google Plus would eventually be activated. You may be one of their 20 million “enthusiastic” beta supporters and not even know it.
And when I tell people that Google will essentially know everything about you, I really mean EVERYTHING. They are integrating facial recognition and potentially voice recognition. If you use Google Voice and Google Chat, they will know what you look like, sound like, who you talk to, and what you talk about. If you tell a friend that you liked the last Pirates of the Carribbean movie in a Google Video Chat, be ready to be hit with targeted ads by Disney Pictures. And if you sing your child a lullaby goodnight from being stationed overseas, I don’t see anything in their terms of service that suggests they can’t just use that heartstring-touching moment in a television commercial. They own it.
So while Google may suggest that they are leaps and bounds above Facebook in every way possible, I might also suggest that control over your life and identity is in that list.