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After Facebook scrutiny, is Google next? (phys.org)
311 points by dnetesn 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 242 comments

Concerned that google has so much info (https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity) I visited https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols to turn off Web & App Activity, but left Voice & Audio Activity on.

This breaks my google home.

I do not want Google to save 20 years of search history so I can use a stupid google home. For the first time I'm considering Apple's device.

This is a dark pattern Google

This has been my stance for about five years now. I don’t want to give all this info to companies I don’t trust. Apple devices might cost more, but Apple only makes money from you when you give them money. Google and Facebook make money when you give them money and then make money when you give them information too. There’s a perverse incentive, they want you to use it more and give them more information because they make more money from selling you rather than selling to you.

If you want that to change, you have to be willing to offset that price difference from your own wallet.

What? Apple handed over ALL their user data in China over to the government for a buck versus Google fought back and left.

'Campaign targets Apple over privacy betrayal for Chinese iCloud users"


Then removed the VPN software and cut their users off at the knees from being able to protect themselves. While the way to keep your data private in China is use Google Fi.

"Using Project Fi in China: Say goodbye to VPNs"


Have to look past marketing and what is real.

My biggest grip is Apple terms allow them to have a ton of your data but there is no transparency like with Google.

Google provides a dashboard with everytthing in one place were you can remove and download. Nothing similar from Apple.

So when I share my location with imessages how do I remove that? Where can I see it? Google is far better.

Apple has ads. Have you read their ToS / privacy policy?

I'm pretty sure that one day Apple will also use / sell your data.

Why? Because it makes them even more money...

What evidence do you have for this baseless accusation?

Apple have been hammering Google on privacy for many years and they have an incredible track record on privacy when they’ve had their feet held to the fire with the FBI.

To play devil's advocate, I can see a world in which Apple as a publicly traded company is hard pressed into returning stronger results for its investors and turns to data as a way to expand. Not saying it will happen as there is no indicator that they need or want to. However, it is important to note that it isn't outside the realm of possibility at all.

It's happened before, with Microsoft, too. They've transitioned from an OS where you pay with cash (win7), to a spyware OS where you pay with cash and your data (win10).

Keep in mind, Apple is the company that told a few angry shareholders that they should “get out of this stock” if they were upset about Apple’s environmental initiatives.

Granted, that’s only a CEO change or two away, but the culture very much appears to be one where short term profit isn’t the be all end all.

Apple are pushing privacy as a key differentiator and also to justify their premium price tag. Selling out on privacy would torpedo that USP. Trust is gained in drops and lost in buckets.

Yes in a world of infinite possibilities anything can happen, but realistically Apple is incentivized to maintain their privacy position.

(the following is pure speculation as usual)

This is what the current leadership believes. Tim Cook is a clearly brilliant manager. I have no hesitation in endorsing his record on privacy (and genuineness and truthfulness). However, he is mortal. The next CEO might see things differently. The unique selling point you mentioned will be on the table. There will be analysts who will crunch the numbers on what portion of prospective Apple customers will refrain from buying Apple for some particular transgression and how much such transgression will bring in additional revenue.

Apple can fend off these questions today because it has a huge chunk of the high end phone market. It would be stupid to ask Apple to do this not because it is immoral but rather because it will distract Apple from doing what it does very well: selling $1k iPhones.

Pushing is different than reality though.

"Campaign targets Apple over privacy betrayal for Chinese iCloud users"

Apple sold all their users data in China. Should that not count?

Is Apple not handing over all their user data in China not an example of Apple already doing this?

I meant if they did not they have to leave China like Google chose to do. It was for a buck versus Google thought the bucks to give up their users data not worth it.

Apple to US FBI: We will never unlock a device for you! See you in court!

Apple to China: What can we do for you, comrades?

The FBI doesn’t have the power to ban Apple from the US. There’s no legal framework to dissolve a corporation for a dispute about searches.

China, on the other hand...

Still, Tim Cook needs to stop being such a fucking hypocrite!

Not wanting to comply with a FBI request but then storing the iMessage private keys in Beijing.

I'd say its more a question of incentives. Taking strong stands on privacy are convenient today, when they are a juggernaut of lifestyle computing hardware, but if a strong future competitor is eating into Apple's growth... they will monetize what they can - and they have a lot of data on their users - probably approaching google in scope, in many areas.

Is Apple collecting the minimum amount of user data possible?

Do purchasers of Apple hardware decide which "features" Apple should offer?

Do these purchasers decide what tradeoffs will be made between (a) not collecting user data (maximum privacy by design) and (b) collecting user data with the justification that a "feature" requires it (sacrafice user privacy as required by manufacturer's design)?

Apple's CEO calls privacy a "fundamental human right".

If by its design Apple hardware encourages or requires that right to be abridged (e.g. AppleID, AppStore, etc.), who makes the determination that the purchasers absolute fundamental right (hardware only, no data collection) is outweighed by the need to provide "features" that encourage or necessitate privacy tradeoffs (pre-installed software, ongoing "services", licenses to compile and install software, etc.).

Who decides when the "fundamental right" to privacy should be diminished to support a "feature" chosen by the manufacturer?

If there is (a) one type of hardware/software company that collects user data and sells advertisement, (b) a second type of hardware/software company that collects user data but does not sell advertisement, then is there (c) a third type of hardware/software company that does not collect user data?

What would be the most ideal company for the privacy-conscious consumer: (a), (b) or (c)?

>What evidence do you have for this baseless accusation?


Means, motive and opportunity. There is so much money to be made out of privacy infringement that it's safe to assume at least the border of crime will be touched. Either that, or a CEO will be wiped by the shareholders. Ergo, the accusation above is not so baseless at all.

Agree. Plus out of all the big tech companies Apple has the worse record of selling user data than anyone. By far.

"Campaign targets Apple over privacy betrayal for Chinese iCloud users"


They sold all their customers data in China to the government so they could stay in China. Versus Google did NOT and instead chose to leave instead of selling the data.

Isnt Apple already using our data to make money? Their approach is just different, they collect anonymous data and they ask you if you want to participate.

My Apple health data is being used for science for instance, but I decided to opt-in and the data isn’t actually linked to me.

What data are you worried about them selling? I made a model of Facebook Likes data, but it passed unnoticed. I guess there's no market for it.


In what way is this Github repo of yours a “model of Facebook likes data”?

There are all kinds of such dark patterns. If you switch from Chrome to Firefox on Android you find all kinds of features missing, like in image search.

It's some time ago I checked, but I want to do a comparison and report to some naming & shaming site. Anyone knows a good one?

> If you switch from Chrome to Firefox on Android you find all kinds of features missing, like in image search.

I've been on Firefox nightly Android for eight months now. While generally the browsing is better than chrome thanks to ad blocking, the Google services are pared down versions for no reason. Search, finance, news, so many. This is a clear case of abusing market dominance - and not due to Firefox missing any feature. If not for the revenue from Google, Mozilla would have sued I think.

I found that FF on Android just isn't up to par yet. Even on a OnePlus 3T, HN stutters when scrolling.

It's a shame because I'd love to ditch chrome.

It's weird cause I'm using FF on an far inferior phone, Huawei p10 lite, and it works out great for HN .

Same experience here. On average 40 tabs open, Privacy Badger installed. No problems anywhere (except for the dark patterns). Runs like a Swiss clock :)

Also try turning location off on your android phone so it only gets it when requested. The nagging, whining, breaking and pleading various google services do is confusing and annoying.

If you revoke location permissions, Google still guesses it accurately, for me at least, "from your search history", as it says at the bottom of the search results page - even when you're not signed in (screenshot: https://imgur.com/a/wU8EZUA). I wouldn't mind if they just used the IP address to locate me, but why use the search history? If I wanted Google to know my exact location, I wouldn't have revoked the permissions for it.

Also, try to visit google.com by Edge/Safari/Firefox. It keeps nagging why you're not using Chrome and shows the banner constantly.

I have been using FF Nightly on Android for quite some time. In addition, I have uninstalled or disabled every Google app I can find on my device. Last year, I switched to unlimited mobile data and (almost) never use WiFi, even when easily available. I use DDG instead of Google.

  Consequently, I am never nagged by Google apps or social media apps. I just don't have any problems like what I hear other people experience. Particularly amusing is seeing that my inferred location is way off.

Yeah, I've switched to DDG on my mobile too as a result.

Write a blog post and share it here?

Yeah - you want to make use of Google services (search, maps, youtube, Photos etc.) for free and don't want to give anything in return. #entitlement

Also, most likely you turning off tracking will impact your Google experience.

Google is different than Facebook in that they offer real value services without which you can't survive a day on the web. Just count how many times you rely on a Google service in a day. The least you can do is to support them in maintaining their ad ecosystem in return. Or be ready to pay for their servuces. Unlike Facebook, Google has never had a data breach/trust issue.

"they offer real value services without which you can't survive a day on the web"

This is just not true.

There are viable competitors in about every space that Google is in. Use local documents and sync via a different storage provider. Alternate email providers exist. The only place where they have a distinct advantage is search, and even then, DuckDuckGo is usually enough (and if it's not, just pass a !g flag).

YouTube is also a thing, but I've never felt that having an account really gave me anything over just bookmarking channels.

Bing is good in search, I switched to bing after google search showed a result directly in the top of search results after parsing an amazon shipment email. I realised they are tracking too much. Every company who depends on ad will do or eventually do that unless there are regulations in place. As a user it's up to you how much you want to share your data with third parties and advertisers.

use startpage.com google search without the tracking

Well - there are competitors but they aren't nearly as good. Usage and popularity of these alternate products tell a story.

Unfamiliarity also goes a long way. I recently switched to DuckDuckGo. In the beginning I would compare my search queries with results from Google.. found there wasn't all that much difference.

+1 for DDG. I’ve been experimenting with it as default in Safari and it’s so similar I often find myself wondering “when did google change their layout?”

I just heard someone mentioning above that it was based on Google, which I wasn't aware of.. I will do a search on that :)

checkout startpage and searx as well. better results than DDG

For the HN crowd, this may be an option. The general public doesn't really care about privacy, and is not going to use DuckDuckGo or any other service whose primary selling point is privacy. The best search engine will win the market, and the best search engine will tend to be the one that can generate the most money to invest in its service.

Even if someone comes in and beats Google at some point, they will do it by hiring a massive number of talented people and buying large quantities of data centers and servers. Those things can only be paid for through advertising and tracking, as few people will directly pay for search services. I suppose a socialist/communist government somewhere in the world might have the resources to build a search engine of Google quality that doesn't rely on advertising, but they would have their own hostile agenda - that would be far worse than having to put up with Nike trying to sell you some shoes while you search.

Sure, I agree that switching email providers or cloud storage services solely for the sake of privacy isn't going to be something that the average person will do.

I was just objecting to the sentiment that opening a Google account is a requirement for being productive on the internet.

I got a number of people to switch to DuckDuckGo by sending DDG query url's to them: "Hey, there is a ton of info on this subject!" (sends DDG query)

DDG uses Google.

If they grow too big Google will just switch them off..

Curious if there is a source for this; I was just looking at this the other day and couldn't confirm they use Google but they did state that they use over 400 sources. Thx

Exactly why Google needs to be reined in.

I stopped using DDG a few days ago, when I noticed the !g flag is not encrypting traffic to google anymore, it just redirects to google.com. Do you know what is up with that? Using startpage now.

Okay actually, I would pay to use most of Google's good services. I expect them to do advertising and they do not (!) need that kind of data on me for their search result advertising to be relevant. They have my search term; that should be enough in isolation.

I would pay handsomely for Google Maps, but I have no such option. Again though, that is a service that works just fine without my individual data; they have my location and my search term, and any business that pops up is inherently relevant due to simple proximity.

Please do not call this entitlement. Please understand that my privacy is valuable to me. Please understand that I would gladly pay to keep it.

> actually, I would pay to use most of Google's good services.

A lot of people say this. You already can pay for Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Photos, and YouTube. Are you paying for them?

Does paying for these products disable tracking and provide strong privacy controls?

For G Suite, "Google does not sell your data to third parties, there is no advertising in G Suite, and we never collect or use data from G Suite services for any advertising purposes."

Also "G Suite's compliance with ISO/IEC 27018:2014 affirms our commitment to international privacy and data protection standards. ISO 27018 guidelines include not using your data for advertising, ensuring that your data in G Suite services remains yours, providing you with tools to delete and export your data, protecting your information from third-party requests, and being transparent about where your data is stored."


Oh, huh. I might have to look into paying for that then.

> You already can pay

Where 'you' is a minority subset of the Internet population.

I am in the UK and use Google Search and YouTube. The only way to pay is with my data.

How do I pay?

G Suite for Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar + phone support + other stuff: https://gsuite.google.com/pricing.html

Or, Drive storage by itself, which applies to most products with storage quotas such as Gmail and Photos: https://www.google.com/drive/pricing/

For YouTube, YouTube Red: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6305537

Another interesting experiment in the willingness of users to pay to remove ads is Google Contributor: https://contributor.google.com/

To add to this, since I've started using GSuite for my personal account, I feel a hundred thousand times more comfortable with Google.

1. My Google identity is now my real email, the one tied to my real domain that I myself own. That's so much better. I can comfortably sign in/sign up with Google to other sites, have them tied to that email instead of my @gmail.com one.

2. I feel way more comfortable sharing every single detail of my life to Google. In fact, it turns what initially comes off as really creepy, into a useful life service because I'm now using things such as my map activity etc as a service I have a paid contract with Google for. And if I don't like it, I can hard disable the entire service.

3. I have access to a lot of stuff that regular free Google doesn't offer. Things such as undelete email/drive (which has been useful on a couple of accidental occasions), and, get this, support. Live chat and phone!

This is pretty good. I've been considering moving over to Apple for everything to avoid Google, but this offers a partial solution.

If only I could pay a monthly fee to include search and maps!

You would now, but what if they had cost money in the first place? Like, you wouldn't have got used to their services for free for years? This is something people often forget when they are saying "of course I would pay money".

The world would be a whole lot different place (not necessarily any better) if Google services cost money instead of gathering data and selling it forwards.

I already pay them $5 a month so I can use myname@mydomain.com for e-mail (I believe this also exempts my inbox from their ad-based data mining, but I could be wrong) I would gladly up that to $10 or $15 a month to extend that across all of Google's products (Youtube, Search, Maps etc.) and have advertising stripped from the whole thing and my "peronalization" data sandboxed so it doesn't get leaked to the "free" version.

The difference that I see between FB and Google is that I would trust Google to get that right. I would expect FB to say they sandboxed or protected my data and then have it turn out in court in ten years that they did no such thing...

can i just use "me@gmail.com" rather than some company name? I'd really just be paying for the knowledge that google isn't plowing through my data and sending it to 3rd parties. My company name is already associated with another host provider.

That is totally fair. My main point here was the users have to pay one way or the other. Either via more seeing more targeted ads, which sacrifices their privacy, or via real $$.

I think it's time a model will come up where you have an option to choose between an ad supported and paid version.

Take a keyword like "mesothelioma". Are you going to personally reimburse Google for the $100 that an advertiser would pay them for your click that they will lose by not showing you an ad with this keyword?

The average click is worth much less though. And the main idea of subscription based flat-priced services is that in average, you profit.

try 1 cent.

While most Google searches aren't that valuable, there are specific searches (mesothelioma might be one, but I've heard local bail bonds and injury lawers) that have cpc in the range of $50-100. There's articles about this floating around.

I really don't mind Google as much when it comes to data collection.

Primary difference between them and Facebook is that I feel Google has a lot more transparency with what data they hold on you. With Google I just deleted all my account activity which is older than a week. Facebook gave me no such option, I even had to write a fucking 600 line python script using OCR to spam click delete buttons on timeline because there's no way to delete activity using the API.

I also agree with you that Google actually provides a service that Facebook doesn't. There's dozens of Google services I use on a weekly basis. I deleted my FB account because of privacy issues but leave my location on my Android for Google Timeline, despite them keeping a log of where I've been every second of my life I a) trust them more with that data than I trust FB to know my hair colour and b) I actually use that feature and think the payoff is worth it.

I just want to set my alarms and do some searches by voice. Why does this require my web browsing history?

Do you really think everyone relies on Google that much? I don’t have some vendetta against Google but I don’t count on their stuff much. Besides Gmail which I havent given the time to at least partially migrate from (only because I have multiple emails and would rather they be with multiple providers), I use the calendar for syncing and YouTube. Neither gmail nor calendars is something I need from google. It’s just I’ve never changed.

I’m sure the majority of people do rely on Google quite a bit. But not everyone.

It would seem, based on the numbers, that you are the exception here. Just look at how being precluded from Google’s services and apps can be a death sentence for some companies: One of the biggest reasons Windows Phone failed was that Google chose to ignore the platform. Google is perhaps the most pervasive tech company to date and it is nearly impossible to escape for the average user.

I wouldn't mind them using aggregate anonymous information, but they don't need to know my every move, so I turn off google everything and use alternatives.

Yeah I want to have a similar experience as with Linux. If they can't deliver that, and they can't, then they are only one more company holding us back.

Untrue, people are paying serious money for their Android phones. OEMs too pay Google. So customers are not 'demanding' anything for free.

But that doesn't stop Google's insatiable need for personal data and stalking people. Android is designed to leak like a sieve.

And this is yet another example for those who continue to make the false argument that if customers paid surveillance would go away. On the contrary companies will then make money from both sources.

This 'free' is not demanded by anybody but is the business model of some startups to gain market share. The fact that there are no regulations means they can operate without any ethical constraints.

Android does not leak like a sieve. All you have to do is not use Google services. There are plenty of others if you're willing to pay a little bit. Or pay for GSuite and they turn the tracking off. Nothing in this world is free except a mother's love.

The only thing you have to do is uninstall the Google apps you mean, handicapping your phone.

The Android platform itself is designed to siphon as much data as possible: contacts, pictures, locations, wifi hotspot information, etc.

If you think that you can avoid Google's greed for data just by not using GMail you are way way behind in the game and your misleading comment is harming others which might now feel safe using what is essentially a very evolved spyware OS. Sure, Google are nice and won't steal your credit card number and purchase stuff with it. They just take every bit of info they can get their hands on.

I'd give them the benefit of the doubt here. It's probably just because of the voice control, which can be presumably used for web search. And they personalize the web search with your history.

It looks more like poor engineering than a dark pattern.

> It looks more like poor engineering than a dark pattern.

Poor engineering and sensitive data are a bad combination.

I am going to speculate that it isn't poor engineering per-say but more likely that they are solving for 95-99% use case and not spending the man-hours to make their systems work for the rest.

I would buy that if they did that occasionally, but all their services behave badly when you try and take back some privacy.

To me it feels like they're deliberately making it painful when you minimise what you share with them.

I'd have to agree with the parent post.

They create things for the 99.9999% that don't care about privacy and will never touch those settings. When you leave that massive group, that's when bugs will be way more common.

We could argue that they intentionally only care about UX when you give them your data but then again that's capitalism, right?

They might have to give you choice to turn those things off, but nobody can force them to give you the same experience. Imagine any executive saying he will focus on giving a great experience for the users that they can't make money out of. He'll be out of a job very quickly.

99.9999% means only 1 in a 1,000,000 care, where's it's more like to be 1 in 10 or maybe 1 in 20. If you'd said 90% or 80% you'd be closer.

It's stupid to make such a wild proclamation, that, for example, only 70 odd people in the whole of the UK care.

For Google it's millions or 10s of millions of their consumers.

>They might have to give you choice to turn those things off, but nobody can force them to give you the same experience.

Isn't that basically what GDPR says? You have to be able to opt out of anything, without breaking things except when absolutely necessary.

They also do this with Google Maps on Android. Disabled Location History sharing with Google? Sorry, we cannot remember the last search term you entered in Google Maps ON THE SAME DEVICE. This is so infuriating

All just part of training people to think that the two options are "all of your data is stored permanently on Google's servers and they can use it for anything" or "your data is not stored anywhere ever and you have to type everything from scratch every time".

Store personal information on a device and not send it to the mothership? Unthinkable!

That would be terrible if it was true, which it isn't.

Source: literally just tried it.

Perhaps not that specific option which controls some smaller facet of sharing and recommendations, however but it's definitely the case when you turn off syncing "Web & App Activity" with the Google panopticon.

Where the history would usually be, there's just this nagging message:

> To see your home and work, past searches, and other suggestions tailed for you, turn on Web & App Activity.

...Which, as mentioned already, misleadingly implies that local-history features are difficult or nonstandard.

I'd say it's more that it quite correctly implies that if you resist sharing your personal life with Google, they'll punish you.

It likely was formerly true. Maps was very limited 2 years ago when I turned off Location History; it's gotten a lot better since.

It used to be the case that Maps wouldn't search places that you starred on that device when you turned off Location History. They fixed that some time in the past year.

No saved places, and it also breaks time estimations for journeys

Amazing, make me feel good about abandoning google ecosystem a few years ago

Best part is I don’t miss it at all, grew up before evil google, didn’t get to rely on their evil parts when switched away

Use waze, it works better anyway and basically uses the same info backend as google maps

I’m waiting for an answer to this: will the least invasive platforms end up the least intelligent?

what's so great about "intelligent" platforms? They're constantly doing something wrong or at least useless.

The level of frustration in trying to get Siri to do something when you can’t use your hands is quite something. I’d like something a bit better.

Almost certainly, if they don't know anything about you they can at best show the median/average outcome.

Some of this can be counteracted with local processing, but that's not really hardware efficient, e.g. you wouldn't consider running a Google instance on everyone's phone.

Breakthroughs in how we do computation could change this, but it would need to be a significant breakthrough, e.g. in homomorphic encryption and differential privacy or huge progress in compute/storage price/density/energy usage.

It's also counter to how our industry's gone, everything's cloud these days, not just because of their insatiable need to feast on our privacy, but also because it's easier to maintain, upgrade, etc. and effectively cuts piracy to nothing.

Eventually, once various forms of fully homomorphic encryption become practical, we can have the best of both worlds.

That being said, using cryptography to protect information will probably always have some (albeit constant) overhead over unprotected computation, so it may be true that these platforms will still be the "least intelligent" even though they are intelligent enough.

If Google home were a free product it would make sense but for Google to use your data produced by using the product feels a lot like double dipping.

> For the first time I'm considering Apple's device.

Apple does collect analytics, but those can be turned off in OSX at the very least. As a company, they are not currently geared towards data collection. They have publicly positioned themselves in favor of privacy.

Please don't forget the treasure trove of data Apple gets via iCloud services, which rival Googles if you're invested in their ecosystem - contacts, calendars, emails, location (Find my phone), all application data (backups), etc.

They don't also fully encrypt all of that information and give it to government on request.

Exactly and little transparency from Apple on what they collect and not dashboard like Google to delete or download.

The issue with Apple is transparency. I want a dashboard like Google provides to see what they are collecting, let me delete and download like Google does.

Both companies have basically the same terms with privacy.

https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/ Legal - Privacy Policy - Apple

I believe Apple is adding something like this to iCloud fairly soon, as part of GDPR preparations.

Man I hope you are correct. I love google having all my devices with apps and permissions granted all in one place. I hope Apple copies exactly. Plus finally disclose what they are collecting and able to remove and download like Google.

Thanks for the link! But I am in the US? Will Apple be transparent in the US like Google is?

More than anything I just want to be able to remove what Apple has on me as I want all my data in a single place when possible.

So I share my location with my family with Google Maps and do NOT want my location also to be at Apple for example.

But Apple is the worse like this. They are far less transparent than Google and that bugs me about Apple.

Plus considering Apple gave all their users data over to the China government versus Google fought the China government Apple has a horrible record with privacy and looks for a buck will give up your data.

I don't have problem if a company collects usage information. End of the day, they need it to improve the product. But for fuck's sake, DON'T sell it to others to increase revenue. Just use it for product development.

This is my problem too and they seem to be getting more bold. For example YouTube TV is $45 a month and you will still be hit with targeted commercials based on this accumulated data. For free services I'm kinda ok with it but if your paying? Not ok and not so entitled to expect separation.

It's a luxury they can afford by being a vision and design centric company. They don't cater to demand, they create it.

By being quite generic and broad in their targeting themselves, they can get away with just collecting non personal "OS data", and they do it since the 80s.

Their biggest enemy are companies that create an easier market for developers and businesses by passing down data that those businesses can use to reach users. FB getting into hardware (they will be a future competitor with AR) is possibly causing them sleepless nights.

Apple's device relies on Siri, which is very much behind in the smart cylinder race, or maybe you're interested on its audio quality capabilities, for that it sure excels.

This article is about (in favor of) censoring the youtube platform to make life easier for advertisers. That doesn't seem very related to the information leaks and level of granular individualized advertising that the Facebook platform provides and which can be used to negative effect by advertisers. To me this is a clumsy, lazy attempt to make lazy platform censorship seem "good" in the way that regulating how Facebook treats data would be good, by coopting a popular topic only tangentially related

Exactly. And the top comment here isn't about either of those subjects, it's a bland complaint about search history tracking with the usual iOS fanboy pivot to "Apple's business model doesn't require that".

Everyone takes from this kerfuffle what they want. I tend to agree with you for myself, but for most people Facebook having egg on its face is just a stage to stand on to whine about whatever they think is important.

Which is to say: the answer to the question in the title is probably "no".

That CNN article they quote is nothing more than CNN disliking that Youtube is challenging them in viewers and ad money. CNN isn't exactly the bastion of legitimacy and journalistic standards either. They're also trying to take down true left wing media like Jimmy Dore, painting him as a 'conspiracy theorist' for not being certain about the Syrian gas attacks before the OPCW was even there, as real journalists should do -- not just take talking points from the Pentagon. Cenk Uygur had to step in on TYT and denounce that stupid CNN article advocating for censorship and bring Jimmy out of that hole.

> nothing more than CNN disliking that Youtube is challenging them in viewers and ad money

Which is also what's behind journalists, bloggers, etc. all hating on Facebook too, but nobody ever wants to hear that.

This is true. But objectively Facebook's practices were extraordinarily harmful in hindsight. Facebook's paid "advertising" that could target super-fine demographics basically allowed for the weaponization of Fake News, dropping the munitions into environments that other observers weren't even seeing. So unverified garbage that even FOX wouldn't run ended up on a lot of voters' front pages.

The ability to run your "story" on Facebook as a paid ad basically pulled an end around on society's idea of a shared truth. It wasn't the only tool to that effect, maybe not even the most damaging, but it was a disaster nonetheless.

> Which is also what's behind journalists, bloggers, etc. all hating on Facebook too, but nobody ever wants to hear that.

Yeah, no. Generalisations are stupid. Doctorow's a perfect example of why what you're saying isn't true, for example.

One counterexample doesn't prove anything, and Doctorow is barely even a relevant example. It's journalists who feel most threatened by Facebook, as they see their subscriber base - and thus their own income opportunities - dwindling. Pseudo-journalist commentators even more so. Once they might have looked to Facebook as a possible ally, a channel through which they could ply their profession, but increasingly (to answer another respondent) they see Facebook purely as a threat. Whether consciously or not, they're highly motivated to magnify everything negative about a rival and never ever write about anything positive.

The incentives for bloggers are similar, though lesser. The more income they derive from ads on their site, the more they see that ad revenue decreasing, the more similar their motivations become to those of the professional media. I'm sure Doctorow makes a bit from pushing products on Boing Boing, but most of his (and other contributors') income comes from other sources and the audience there was always rather Facebook-averse since forever so Facebook's (or Google's) increasing dominance of the ad space has probably not made a dent for them overall.

The real point, though, is that one can't point to self interest as a reason for criticizing Google and pretend that it plays no part in why people criticize Facebook. That's just favoring the devil you're in bed with over the one you're not.

Just want to add: journalists still hold moral high ground.

FB wants to/already has sucked away money and locked in content providers by making themselves the de facto platform, when previously the platform was just "the Internet".

People like to accuse MS and Apple for "embrace, extend, extinguish" tactics, but FB straight up did it for real, it's just they did it to content providers instead of developers and end-users.

Media companies now see the error in their ways and I'm honestly happy for them to attack FB.

He said "All"

Yes, I said "all" but it was clearly hyperbole. Most people would interpret "journalists who are all..." the same way as "all journalists who are..." or treat "all" as an intensifier rather than a qualifier. "He was all up in my face" doesn't mean he put his entire body in my face. But hey, if you want to be super-literal for the sake of being contrary I guess that's your problem. The fact remains that what's true for Boing Boing is not necessarily true for CNN, and that there's adequate reason to believe self-interest affects CNN's coverage here.

That doesn't really make sense. Facebook is a large advertising platform for journalists and media that have existed for a very long time. It's not exactly a space for creators like Youtube.

> Facebook is a large advertising platform for journalists and media

That's outdated thinking; see my response to Mononokay. As much as a year ago, journalists might have seen it that way. What has changed, and why the tone has changed, is that almost no journalists today see Facebook as anything but a competitor. It doesn't even matter if they were right then or are right now, or both, or neither. That's just the zeitgeist.

The spark that triggered the current firestorm Facebook is facing has nothing to do with Facebook’s practices—those have been apparent and obvious since before Facebook is as even a company.

The spark was the confluence of divisive political headwinds and an outrage-driven news cycle.

I’m thankful that spark has resulted in sustained scrutiny of Facebook, but without a similar environment and controversy, I doubt Google will find itself in a hot seat.

Maybe such a controversy is waiting for Google. I hope so, they’ve gathered far more data about me and my interests than Facebook ever will.

I’ll add a thought:

The great irony in Facebook’s situation is that it is purely the result of hubris. In 2010, Zuckerberg saw FB as the next great platform. The API was released to much acclaim. But the API essentially gave away the keys to the kingdom!

Facebook either 1) didn’t realize that they weren’t a platform and the social graph was the most valuable information they possessed, and were blinded by ignorance, or 2) didn’t want to be “just” an advertisement business, and was blinded by hubris.

Maybe it was a bit of both, but given how engineering driven FB is, I’d guess there was a healthy dose of #2, and probably still is.

In 2010, Facebook's revenue was significantly driven by something other than ads - Social Games. Zynga and the like were raking in billions based on people clicking virtual cows, and Facebook was getting a cut. Promoting these kinds of uses was their goal. It's easy to see modern Ad-Driven FB and forget that there were other eras of the company.

Yes, hindsight is 20/20. However, Google was smart enough to see the endgame: knowing people’s interests is some of the most valuable information available to advertisers, ever.

What Facebook has, and what they essentially gave away for free, is far more valuable than whatever revenue they generated as a “platform.”

The fact FB was generating revenue as a platform in 2010 has more to do with their strategy (which was lacking at the time) than with the value of the information they had.

I’m suggesting they Zuckerberg’s hubris prevented him from seeing the value of what FB already was, and how to monetize that.

> confluence of divisive political headwinds and an outrage-driven news > I doubt Google will find itself in a hot seat

You're suggesting Hollywood will abandon a decade-plus long effort to beat down the influence of big tech, and increase regulation of the Internet, now, when it's going so well?[1] Or that some integrity of governance, quality of public policy, or competence of journalism, will hold them in check?

> Maybe such a controversy is waiting for Google. I hope so,

Controversies against Google will continue to be nurtured, year after year. And one of them, instead of incremental erosion, may well end up being a similar political-media event.

Whether you think this process is a good thing or not, depends in part on what kind of Internet you would like to have.

[1] https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180226/01415539302/mista...

Well, no, that’s not what I’m suggesting at all.

It sounds like you set up a straw man to be able to assert your own narrative for “Why Google is next.”

It’s all well and fine to offer up an alternative explanation or additional information, but you don’t have to do it by putting words into people’s mouths.

As for the content of your message, I fail to see how Facebook’s current scrutiny is connected to Hollywood in any way whatsoever.

> you don’t have to do it by putting words into people’s mouths

A fair criticism. I'd intended "You're suggesting [...] ?" as a "are you suggesting <implausible thing not-X>?" form of "what about X?" question, rather than as a "you said X" claim. I'd not noticed the second reading. :/ But a less personal phrasing would have avoided the potential for misunderstanding - and consequences. Sorry about that.

> how Facebook’s current scrutiny is connected to Hollywood

Regards "current", tactical politics, perhaps someone else can comment. But the strategic context, part of those "political headwinds", is a long-term lobbying and press campaign to "correct" the "excessive approval" of Facebook et al, and to establish "rules of the road" for the "Wild West" Internet. One can of course agree with part of that, and disagree with the other. But... given a political bandwagon, it seems worth noting the principal conductors, and their intended playlists.

+1 facebook helped to foster the “ze russians snatched hillary’s victory” hysteria abusing their power to pursue their partisan agenda and then suffered when they themselves got on the wrong side of it. Nothing to do with americans’ newfound hightened awareness of privacy really.


It was inevitable. If not for the CA scandal it would have been something else.

Regulations like GDPR aren’t a reaction to Trump.

If you frame the question as "how much value do I get from X in exchange for my data?" I think the answer is clear that Google > Facebook. G Search, Gmail, Analytics, Docs, YT (original home of Khan Academy) etc. all contribute to my learning and productivity...with FB the total opposite.

You're right. This is an important point to keep in mind to maintain perspective.

That's true for you, but is it true for most people?

I know many who get a lot more value out of staying in touch with friends/family than they do with Google products.

Good point about the benefit side of the equation, but also on the cost side even though Google probably knows much more about me I'd still trust Google more than Facebook to not leak that data to someone else.

I trust Google, but it's only because I have to. Their tools are 10x better than anything else for many cases, so you're simply doing yourself a disservice to not use them. It's not like Facebook where I can just email my friends or whatever. Google search is a fundamentally life changing technology that is untouched by any competitor.

Google may be better than everyone else. The question is though, do you really need all that "betterness"? Because if you don't, there are actually plenty of alternatives to choose from. They may not be as good as Google, but they do their job pretty well. Giving up some of the (perceived) "Google awesomeness" in favor for say privacy, may be worth considering. Just a thought.

As a counter viewpoint - Google has one of the best security infrastructures and security experts in business. If anywhere, data is safe there (for certain definitions of "safe"). Do you trust all other small companies to secure and lot leak your data in the same way?

I do and why I use Google. But live in the US which is a free country to use whatever you want and just want to be left alone so I can.

I am fine with you using whatever you want.

Use whichever search engine maybe, but not “use whatever you want” in general. The US is hardly “do what you want” in the general case. Is also the home of, “you have a duopoly, but you’re free to pick between the two,” trying to lock your mobile down. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-doj-at-t/u-s-said-to-inve...

What do you mean can't use whatever you want in the US? Not following?

>Their tools are 10x better than anything else for many cases, so you're simply doing yourself a disservice to not use them.

I think that at this point that's basically only true for mapping, and they are losing ground on that, slowly. You've got stockholm syndrome.

Google maps

https://www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat/ Google Maps's Moat - Justin O'Beirne

I'll bite.

What's actually better than:

* Gmail

* Search

* Docs

And all of the Integration that works cross platform for all of those.

It's not apples to apples, but for me, Fastmail is way better than Gmail, DuckDuckGo is as good as Google Search because its privacy features evens out the uneven score from search result quality, and a blend of iWork, markdown and latex is much better for creating documents than Google Docs.

>* Gmail

Protonmail. Encrypted, ad free, and no one reading your email.


Duck Duck Go. Google is actually well past it's prime on this front. Their per-customer result filtering is now so aggressive that the filter bubble they apply to you is now an active impediment to web use. I generally find that I cannot replicate a google search on a different computer with the same search term, and about 20% of the time it is impossible to find the same result on a second computer. DDG's results are much more accurate to your search terms as written.


Any desktop office suite, be it libre- of microsoft-. Unless multiplayer documents are a core component of your work (my commiserations if they are), google docs is objectively less capable as a professional grade editing suite than any of the major desktop based options, due to its considerably smaller and web-ui centric feature-set.

doesn't protonmail still not support full-text search of your mail?

Depends which mail client you're using I guess. Works fine in Thunderbird.

We use docs for work. I hate it. I can never find where a document is hiding (is it in drive, docs, associated with which account?). I much prefer a local file structure that I can navigate from the command line.

Some tools break on Firefox at times. There doesn't appear to be any offline mode for me to store and work on my documents locally when I am on the road and don't have a reliable internet connection.

Gmail. I pull into thunderbird via imap. It's just another back-end from my perspective.

Define better. Does offline capability, ownership of data/applications, ability to modify your software and privacy concerns count, just as examples?

Simply using the terminology used by the OP and being refuted by the comment above.

DuckDuckGo is great for search.

Google search had one killer feature that would have me come back a few times a month, but they discontinued it:

Things like “12573238458 bytes / 22 days in Mbps” used to do the unit conversions and print the answer.

Docs’ only killer feature for me is inline comments (and not requiring windows update...). Even atlassian has that now.

I hate the gmail UI, and just access it via ldap; to each their own, I guess.

All the things I mentioned work great on all the platforms that are currently alive, and integrate as much as I’d like via smtp, so there’s that checkbox too.

> Things like “12573238458 bytes / 22 days in Mbps” used to do the unit conversions and print the answer.


That unit conversion still happens?

Won't get an answer as there is nothing better. But people just use whatever you want and let me do the same.

This seems like a fairly superficial argument to me. Facebook is mostly getting scrutiny for specific problems that Google has managed (whether by luck or otherwise) to avoid and which have little connection to the main argument of the article around advertising on YouTube. To me, the equating of these two companies is actually harmful because then we are failing to distinguish why Facebook specifically was such a powerful vector into the 2016 election. Both companies present privacy concerns, but they are definitely not the same in their approach and we should be carefully looking at those differences for their instructive value, not lumping them together.

This may be the minority opinion here.

But Facebook, Google, and all these other shady companies that collects massive personal data, in ways that were never envisioned of being collected. They need to be reigned in. They have overstepped their boundaries of what is socially acceptable.

Facebook should just call themselves the FBIbook, because they have amassed such huge amounts of private data on us. And they have also done unethical things like creating fake dark profiles of you, or your children, and tracked them on their usage of the internet. This is egregious.

The creepiest thing by far, is their usage of facial scanning, to create a facial biometric of you. Their technology is probably something that the FBI has wet dreams of having. And they use this to identify you in any and all pictures on the internet.

Their next move, might be to actually partner up with brick-and-mortar stores, or CCTV surveillance cameras, to get a real time biometric identification on people. All the CCTV cameras at Walmart, Target, and in the malls, will get fed into the Facebook brain, and Facebook can build a real time tracking system as you wander through their digital surveillance system.

I just want to go to the mall and enjoy an ice cream with my loved ones. I'm not interested in getting tracked by Facebook's creepy surveillance system. This is akin to walking around in a digital virtual prison, that we can never escape from. And once this technology is built, then it will get expanded everywhere. To every single street corner camera, and combined with your smartphone's GPS, it's the perfect thing to track you everywhere. Just to sell you an ad, for something that you don't want to buy.

If you thought they make a lot of money now, by selling ads on their platform. Just imagine when they decide to go down this route. Their revenue and profit potential will explode! And they will be unstoppable.

Same with Apple? I mean they basically sold all their user data in China.

"Campaign targets Apple over privacy betrayal for Chinese iCloud users"


Versus Google chose to not sell their user data in China and left.

The fact that google assistant won't even work without enabling web&app activity really pisses me off. Most of time I use the voice controls to set timer or notes. Why does it need my web history to do that?

Alexa, turn off Google Assistant.

In all seriousness, this is just sad.

Might not be a popular view but my biggest issue is Apple and transparency on what they collect. Google has a fantastic dashboard with everything and ability to remove or even download.

Apple privacy agreement allows them to collect a ton of private data but that is it. You agree and no idea what they are doing with your data. Read the agreement.

https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/ Legal - Privacy Policy - Apple

I do not like big gov but would be good with Apple forced to create a dashboard exactly like Google provides.


I'm genuinely confused here. Are you implying that you are OK with Google-scale intrusive data collection as long as you get a convenient dashboard with it?

While it might seem magnanimous of them to allow you to download from their system, (your own data no less), I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that arrangement. The way the T&C of all these companies are written, you have no way of validating the deletion of your data in a comprehensive fashion, there are no provisions for you to look under the hood, and there are explicit reservations outlined with respect to government related obligations.

I'm not comfortable with any of these companies, but knowing that Google has all of my searches, (desktop AND mobile), for the past 10 or 15 years, youtube view history, etc etc etc worries me a bit more than the fact that Apple knows what apps I've downloaded. Personally, I would rate them as follows:



SECONDARY CONCERNS: Netflix Apple Pandora etc

To put it in layman's terms:

Apple knows what apps I've downloaded. AT&T knows where I've been. But Google and Facebook know all of that PLUS what porn I like, what I REALLY think of my boss, what I've been posting "anonymously" to different web forums, and they have a pretty good idea which of my S/O's friends I think are hotter than her.

Which one do you think I'm more worried about?

The problem is Apple had an agreement that let's them collect as much data as Google yet they are not transparent like Google on what they actually have right now and enable me to remove like Google. Plus Google let's you even download and have no such option from Apple.

I try to keep all my data at Google and no where else when possible but I have both a Pixel and an iPhone and do not know what is at Apple. I do use Google DNS and Google services including Chrome.

I use Google DNS everywhere,, to keep my internet browsing away from my wireless and isp providers. I also use chrome data saver to keep browsing data at Google. We now have YouTube TV so now keep my viewing data away from our cable provider.

We have Google WiFi which made the DNS easy as how it comes. I have a pixel book and wife CB+ and kids Acer 14s and 15s so keep my data away from MS and all at Google.

We switched our Echo to the Google home so my home auto data at Google. We have Nest for everything they offer a product. We do have Phillips lights but wish Google would do bulbs.

Then we use Gmail. Maps, YT, and Duo. The areas we leak our Netflix as nothing from Google. Also Amazon for shopping but try to limit. Really almost nothing with MS.

But Apple has my iMessages and data from me using my iPhone which is an issue for me as I do not know what they have and that bugs me and is not right.

Our biggest issue is I have 8 kids and can not use Fi because of cost so my location data is at my wireless provider. This is a big one where you could use Google and protect your data as Google fi is anonymous to the underneath carriers. Trouble is the cost is too much.

OK... let's walk through this.

How do you KNOW that Google, and all of the people Google has allowed access to your data, have deleted it?

Do you see where I'm going?

You have absolutely no way of knowing whether Google deleted your data or not. You just get an email maybe saying that your data was deleted. But that email is only warranting deletion within the parameters of the original T&C you agreed to.

Now compare that to Netflix or Apple. They have NO WAY AT ALL of knowing what I searched for on my home or work machines. If I'm using Google Chrome, as the vast majority of users are, then Google knows not only what I searched for, but also which web pages I went to. When I went to them. And what I did when I was there. Netflix, Apple and Pandora/Spotify etc have almost no way to determine that level of detail about me.

MAYBE AT&T does, which is why I listed them as a priority concern. But very few companies outside of the ISP's, Google and Facebook would even have access to that information. Not even Microsoft and Apple would have access to that level of detail about you. Let's face it, not many people use Edge or Safari.

Even on your phone, Google will ALWAYS have access to more data about you than Apple does. I was getting lots of ads for health insurance on my desktop. They claimed that if I could run a sub-7 minute mile I could get a break on my insurance. A friend of mine told me it was because I used Youtube on my runs in the morning. So Google knew how fast I could run. So we did an experiment where I slowed down for a week, sure enough, the number changed to 8 minute miles. Apple, Spotify, Netflix etc would not have even known that I was searching for health insurance on my machines. But Google not only knew that, but was smart enough to watch me while I was out running to give me an ad that would seem more attractive to me.

Yeah... I stopped using Youtube.

Google does not allow anyone access to my data and I like things to work in the interest of the company. The last company going to give up your data is Google. They know the value and there business is based on trust. They lost trust and they are screwed while companies like Apple do not have the same on the line and why we see Google invest so much more into security and why Google has found Shellshock, Cloudbleed, Spectre, Heartbleed and meltown among others and Apple and MS did not find a single one.

Another example is Apple handed over all their user data in China over to the government while Google instead left China. Kind of saids it all.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/apple-privacy... Campaign targets Apple over privacy betrayal for Chinese iCloud ...

You never know if any company deleted your data but trust Google far more because as they have more to lose and Apple giving up their users data in China proves my point. Apple gives your data away and my daughter is still buying a iPhone.

Let me give a specific examples of my issue with Apple. I try to keep all my data at Google. They are not going to give it up for dollar like Apple in China and Google has the best security by a huge amount.

We were recently on holiday and several of my kids have iPhones. I permanently share my location on Google maps. But when we are traveling I use iMessages with my iPhone kids. They need to find me when out and about and will share my location in iMessages as easy to do.

But I do not have a way to clearly remove from Apple as I do not want that data at Apple. I do not want my data spread around. Apple is the worse like this. Google offers on their own and we will need the gov to force Apple to do the same.

Hope that helps.

Next is passing laws to avoid those kind of problems (like GDPR). It's not sufficient to go after each shady company that sells your data.

Exactly. There has to be a framework that everyone has to follow. Imagine we had no laws against theft and you would get into trouble only if you overdid it by some undefined standard

No, it’s more like people leaving shit all over your property and when you go pick it up they come back and want to charge you with theft.

No, it's like inviting people over for a casual party and then recording everything from 15 different angles, including in the bathroom, and then hiring a few people on every street in the town to photograph everyone walking down that street so that you can cross-reference those photos to your candid bathroom shots.

And then you let some other people get those photos because "Chad who was at that party said it was OK with him".

GDPR isn't very effective in that regard. 98% of Facebook users will just click 'Agree and Continue' when promoted, giving Facebook the legal right to buy/sell whatever data they want.

GDPR is just a first step and obviously is not the whole solution to this problem. But I believe it's a necessary step, even if not perfect.

It's not next, it's already being targeted. The recent Right To Be Forgotten case touches on a theme I think we'll see again - "we don't like what society does with easy access to certain information, and companies that facilitate access to that information are going to face increased scrutiny".

The key here is the reccomendation engine. Is an automatically-generated reccomendation an endorsement?

If someone is watching "non-extreme" material and suddenly gets a conspiracy, far right, or propaganda video suggested to them, what responsibility does Google have for that reccomendation? To what extent is it possible for people to "self radicalise" from Youtube?

(I've experienced this myself; an innocuous gaming video had a column of reccomended videos all relating to the same game .. and a livestream of Tommy Robinson. Why? Is Google radicalising gamers accidentally?)

I have similar anecdotes regarding youtube. My feed often randomly recommends "SJW owned compilation" and "feminism fails". I may have watched one or two videos from prominent feminists and their supposed opposition in 2011 but google is really waiting for me to get back to that particular political fight for some reason.

How long do I have to ignore something before it goes away? It reminds me of how in the UK the tabloid newspapers have audacious headlines but you're forced to read them because they are in the entrance of every store. I dont want to read about this. Leave me alone and stop filling my head with garbage.

> My feed often randomly recommends "SJW owned compilation" and "feminism fails".

I had the same videos queue up in mine and nothing I watch seems even remotely related to that. My YouTube usage is pretty "family friendly" so it struck me as particularly odd to see such blatantly divisive hate videos.

I've even seen weird ads about deep state conspiracy stuff on there too. Their algorithms seem totally broken because I'm definitely not the right target for that stuff.

There's definitively something wrong with the Youtube recommendation algorithm, it is much less intelligent that people assume.

For some reason YouTube want's me to watch Bill Burr and John Oliver. I tried multiple times to tell YouTube that I'm not interested, only to have the same content pop up in my recommendations a few days later.

The again I have the same issues with Facebook. At this point I fairly sure there's zero intelligence, machine learning or AI behind the Facebook newsfeed.

Maybe we're statistical anomalies but I agree. The recommendations are always crap so I find new content from humans recommending it to me, not machines.

And I've never seen an ad for something that actually inspired me to click it or buy anything.

Where do these appear? If it's in the Recommendations, you can delete them, then a link appears called "Tell Us Why", and in that dialog you can see which video in your history influenced that recommendation (and tell it to stop recommending stuff based on it).

It's always worked quite well for me. I have zero crap in my recommendations.

The problem isn't just my reccomendations, it's those of my fellow citizens, voters, and potential lynch mobs.

(Also, I don't get the information on why a video is reccomended to me - is it country-specific? I was googling for how to find it and ironically came across a huge thread of complaints: https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/youtube/7Sf7E...)

The problem isn't just my reccomendations, it's those of my fellow citizens, voters, and potential lynch mobs.

No argument there.

Also, I don't get the information on why a video is reccomended to me - is it country-specific?

I don't know; it worked in all European countries I've used it in. You mouse over the video, it shows the three-dots menu (⋮), then you choose "Not Interested", then the thumbnail is replaced by text saying "Video Removed" and "Tell Us Why".

Example: https://imgur.com/a/zlUtCfc

Ah, I've figured it out: the next dialog, "Tell Us Why", doesn't always name a particular video that prompted the reccomendation. Some of them do, some of them don't. Which begs the next question: where are they coming from if not previously watched videos?

Uh, that's curious. Can't say that ever happened to me.

Usually the "Up next" queue where it supposedly suggests related videos. I don't pay much attention to the recommendations on the main page or anything.

And some have been ads. One that sticks out was selling some crazy deep state book, but the ads was mostly just selling a conspiracy theory about the FBI.

Oh, the related videos. Yeah, I don't know if those can be influenced. I keep the autoplay disabled.

You can only do that if you have a Google account. For everyone else yve Recommendations feed is an uneditable, unhidable list of click bait and dross.


This site shows Youtube's most recommended videos. It is quite revealing.

Congress should take action, and install a watchdog that continuously monitors these companies; e.g. by verifying that data placed online cannot be bought through different channels.

Why would google ever sell data? Surely it is their greatest asset?

Google would be the last to sell your data as they know better then anyone the value.

This and security is why I try to centralize my data at Google.

In the US an ISP can sell your data without you even knowing.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/04/04/isps-can... ISPs can now collect and sell your data: What to know ... - USA Today

But they do sell your data.

For example, let's say a bad actor creates a Google ad for pizzas, directed at gay people. Now if you see and click that pizza ad, the bad actor will know your sexual orientation.

No they won't. They'll know that there exists a person who probably likes pizza and is gay. They don't know who that person is.

They do.

The first step is that you are only shown the ad if you are gay. This means that if somebody clicks the ad, then they must be gay.

The second step is that if you click the ad and order the pizza, the pizza company (=bad actor) will ask for your details (e.g. name, address). This information can then be coupled to your sexual orientation.

And this happens without you knowing. All you think is that you are ordering pizza.

It’s funny that you claim this yet there are posts all over this thread about how crappy the ad targeting is.

Google does not sell data. They do Target ads but your data stays at Google. Byproduct is ad blockers work.

Substitute Facebook for Google in your argument, and see if it still makes sense.

That is wrong way to approach the issue. These companies should not be gathering personal information worse than NSA. Personal information is personal, and free people in a free society should not be followed by multinational corporations.

I like your sentiment but we’re talking serious company breakups in order to force it. Pretty much most industries could use some trust-busting but the political imperative (outrage) isn’t directed that way.

> free people in a free society should not be followed by multinational corporations

Rather, free people should be allowed to choose. And free people are the ones making these companies too.

At least the targeting is advertising and not drone strikes.

I’m sorry, but trying to draw this distinction is dangerously naive.

In order to get decent ad targeting for most industries, they need more than enough information than is needed to target a drone strike.

They are legally obligated to share this information with multiple governments (including the US) that openly and routinely engage in extra-judicial killings of civilians.

The only solutions to this moral quandary are to either (a) change multiple governments, some democratically elected, some not, or to (b) simply not gather the information in the first place.

Google has already tried and failed at option (a), and option (b) would eliminate the vast majority of their revenue.

So a USDA style on-site meat inspector but for data?

That isnt going to happen under the current deregulatory administration.

it's unlikely to happen in any administration. proactive monitoring is cost prohibitive compared to reactive punishment and a legal framework for doing so. as you said, the latter is unlikely to be meaningfully strengthened.

fines and enforcement must present a significantly larger liability than profit opportunity for any real changes to ever take place. else it's just written down as another expense of doing business as usual.

On the other side, it sounds like a job that needs to be done 24/7 and could be done remotely. Precisely the sort of thing that could employ rural America with suitable infrastructure build-out.

> proactive monitoring is cost prohibitive compared to reactive punishment and a legal framework for doing so

Counterfactual: finance, another high-margin industry with a penchant for bad decision making, funds a proactive and multi-pronged regulatory apparatus. We are all safer for it.

in large part this is made easier because most money travels by known and monitored channels (banks, businesses certified to be money transmitters, etc) with very little going via cash.

data on the other hand is a much more diverse & fluid asset that travels via a million unmonitored/encrypted channels and can be copied easily. if all money could be easily copied and most transactions were in cash, proactive regulation would be too expensive. i think.

> data on the other hand is a much more diverse & fluid asset that travels via a million unmonitored/encrypted channels and can be copied easily

Securities are quite diverse. And people regularly try to get around securities regulation by calling their securities "stamps" or "tokens" or "coins" or whatever. A regulator for social media companies over a certain size might not be a bad idea. (My preference is consumer controls with strict penalties for non-compliance, à la how Illinois governs biometric data [1].)

[1] http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-facebook-taggi...

> proactive monitoring is cost prohibitive compared to reactive punishment and a legal framework for doing so

Just let ad networks pay for it. Ad networks had a chance of self-regulation but they failed.

Also, how are you going to catch them if you don't watch them?

Yes, because ISPs are pushing this and they now have all their net neutrality abolishment and private protection removals in place, all that money can now go to all out assaults on Facebook, Google and any other competitors in the ad space.

Part of ISPs justification for removing privacy protections via bribes was to allow them to compete with Facebook/Google.

As seen with removing ISP privacy protections from the FCC to help them get net neutrality removed, ISPs don't give up when it comes to using their local monopolies and bribing their way into markets rather than competing with products built on it that people want like Facebook/Google.

Right now ISP money isn't being spent on innovation or expansion of their network capabilities, it is being spent to combat competition in areas they want to move into such as the ad network/tracking space, network throttling/data caps and more.

ISPs also want to be the implementers of the internet filters that will be arriving soon to be broad censorship and stifle competition [1]. They are also big on helping the surveillance state and will get shared data to use in their ad networks [2].

The ISPs are helping build the network that will be more like hotel wifi than the internet we know and love today. If the ISPs do one thing well it is stifling competition to create near monopolies because they don't like to compete building actual quality or products to compete next to market leaders, they bribe and use their local monopolies to get in.

[1] https://www.wired.com/2017/04/internet-censorship-is-advanci...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A

What would happen to Google? Nothing happened to Facebook except a slap on the wrist. They'll continue doing everything they do and only a few of us nerds on the internet will really care.

Americans have the attention span of fruit flies, which is why none of this actually matters long term.

> Child advocates have also raised alarms about the ease with which smartphone-equipped children are exposed to inappropriate videos and deceptive advertising.

COPPA has unfortunate consequences. My 7 year old child watches youtube. He can't have an account, so he uses my account. Youtube thinks an > 18 year old is watching the videos, and so places ads for gambling and alcohol on the videos he watches.

There's no mechanism to tell Google that:

i) My child is under 18 and so cannot legally buy the products being advertised (and in the UK it's illegal to target alcohol to children)

ii) I campaign against alcohol and gambling adverts, and that's the only reason they think I have an interest in the product. I'm never going to buy these products.

The Youtube Kids product isn't available on my laptop, and he's not interested in many of those videos.

And the fix seems simple enough: allow a toggle for "viewer is under 18".

It sounds like an adblocker would be responsible parenting best practice here.

Not letting a child on the web without an adblocker is, in general, responsible parenting. The ad industry is at its scummiest when it comes to ads targeted at kids (and it's been that way for decades, it's just especially visible on the web).

I think you're looking for familylink: https://support.google.com/youtubekids/answer/7124142?hl=en

I'd simply watch YouTube without an account?

I've not seen any reason to log in unless you're going to upload a video or leave a comment and he could get you for that.

That’s because Google doesn’t care because you let him watch. Lots of companies comply with coppa (Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Microsoft) and Google could if they carded enough. But even if their kids app was available on your laptop, it’s still inappropriate for kids.

So you letting your kid watch YouTube as an 18 year old is a personal decision and not much to do with coppa existing or not existing.

Agree. My kids learned how to lie about year born when they were in grade school.

Google provides a dashboard with everything including ability to remove or even download. Wish we could get the same from Apple.

Do not think Google has the same issues as FB.

I think what Eelo is trying to achieve is interesting. They forked LineageOS, but they understood that nowadays a smartphone is not that smart without services (email, map, contact/cal sync, etc), so they plan to develop their own services that respect privacy.

Now, will these services be on par with Google's? Of course not, but if they're good enough, it could be a game changer.

This was essentially what Cyanogen was doing before they went bust (in cooperation with microsoft).

Providing a "good enough" service in a sustainable way is very, very difficult. Maybe you can make the service happen, but services require a continuing revenue stream, and that is hard. Especially when you don't own the platform, you don't own the hardware, and your only selling point is that you'll promise to ignore the biggest potential revenue source.

I have already seen the reminder about privacy etc from google, which tells me they are nervous.

Google knows far more about me than Facebook. But their product is not premised on my genuine identity, or the sharing of my social graph with apps.

Google has been pretty good at preserving the illusion of "anonymous browsing".

> their product is not premised on my genuine identity

Their product to you may not be, but their primary revenue stream sure is based on the premise of knowing your genuine identity (including habits.)

Not really. Google does search ads based on what you are searching at that time. Plus Google does ads with a call back so no data leaves Google.

The byproduct is ad blockers work by blocking the call back.

They most definitely tailor ads to your personal data.

Target ads but do not sell personal data and have thought out a nice architecture so your data stays at Google. They use a call back for the ad so a third party site does not get any data. Also why ad blockers work.

I never said they sold your personal data, I know they don't. But they still collect vast amounts of it that they use against you (advertising), and make available to governments if requested/ordered.

I prefer the gov has to go through a legal process versus just giving all your data over to the government.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/apple-privacy... Campaign targets Apple over privacy betrayal for Chinese iCloud ...

An article about YouTube censorship/kids exposed to bad videos and 98% of the replies don’t talk about the content of the article at all.

Next Google. Then we forget about it forever.

Probably not.

Wish they would be, but probably not.


We're learning that good is relative so do no evil can't mean anything good for us, long-term, unless we're Google.

Use a lot of Google services and never had an issue with my data. Plus Google will secure far better than anyone else.

If congress couldn't grok how Facebook operates I doubt they will be able to grok Google who in my opinion has a much more indirect (manipulative) way of getting people to view ads and gather data to show ads.

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