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The problem with the multiple-vs-unique-ID debate is that people tend to ignore what these systems are really built for: data mining, behavioural analysis, targeted advertising etc.

Users will agree with moot that separate identities are better and safer, but this is not how the real FB/Google customers see it; advertisers and marketeers want to know that user-A is an engineer AND loves cooking AND has a pet AND goes on 4chan.org/tv, not just one OR the others.

That's why FB/Google try so hard to reconcile all your activities under one ID: to better represent the unique intersection of interests that will be resold to marketeers. Any feature they implement to "manage your faceted identity" will only give you an illusion of separation, and will inevitably link all your activities anyway, because that's necessary for their business model.

Note that this is not a rant (I use FB and G+ every day), I just think this point tends to be overlooked when talking about "social" websites, almost like it was not polite to point out where these businesses make their money.




I'm not sure why Google would care to know those things. The most profitable form of advertising is a direct search. "Bears tickets" is advertising gold. Joe liking the Bears on Facebook is not on the same level. Google might get incremental value on having the additional data but I don't think it's worth the reputation hit.


Google seems to care. You can see it here: http://www.google.com/ads/preferences/

An optimist would say that's exposed so you can wipe it clean, a pessimist would say that's exposed so you can refine your profile to be better advertised to.


There's a whole spectrum of user data with varying value to advertisers. Google already rocked search big time and now they're on to the rest of the online advertising budget.

Ad networks (like me!) use demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data to target most display ad campaigns. I have run campaigns specifically sold as "market to Nigerian immigrants living in America" or "moms 25-35 interested in beauty products." And even when not specifically targeting those audiences, one can often find surprising performance pockets from these audience intersections- good for my performance and useful info to bubble back up to the advertiser.

And... guess who's the current biggest display ad platform?

yup: http://www.google.com/doubleclick/


And why should we trust you (or Google etc) with our data? Perhaps you (they) will exploit our ignorance and manipulate our preferences?

Not everyone in the world can be assured their human rights and exposing personal information can lead to persecution. Therefore, there is a risk attributed to this data collection, at least for some. Not everyone is willing or able to take these risks.

While I can agree that this data may be useful for both customer and advertiser, its potential misuse should not be ignored. And when these networks deny the use of pseudonyms, they force their users to take (unnecessary) risks.


For sure. But parent was wondering why Google cares about our data- so I'm explaining why that is.


I would like to see some studies on the effectiveness of the various targeting criteria. Sometimes i think marketers obsess on targeting criteria that may not be so effective, missing other psychological effects. For example, i thought google's idea of showing you the same ad across websites to make a lasting impression was a no-brainer, yet it was missing for years. Also what about other factors such as time-of-day, or recently clicked ads?


If it's worth a few billions to Facebook, it's worth a few billions to Google.


That's not true; the law of diminishing returns applies.


In this case the law of diminishing returns is offset by the massive movement from TV-based advertising to web-based advertising. As long as TV loses add dollars, there will be plenty of "rising tide" to lift both Facebook and Google in terms of increased advertising revenues.

On the flip side, that's a confounding factor that makes it hard to compare Facebook to Google in terms of some type of battle for advertising dollars. For the time being they should both see revenue growth, irregardless of who does a better job.


How? Advertisers are always looking to show targeted ads


Perhaps if several social sites offer targeted ads with the same level of precision it may decrease the ads' prices since the ads budget won't grow accordingly ? (then it would mean that people are using several services at the same time and not migrating from one to another)


Google's customers do care about better targeting, and don't give a damn about google's reputation. If google gives them inferior product they'll lose money. But worse , they'll open an opportunity for a competitor.

Google understands that ignoring competitors , even niche ones , can be a long term risk. So they work on controlling all the advertising market. I think that's also the biggest reason behind Android: google makes very little money with it. But it's a great defensive strategy.


I just think this point tends to be overlooked when talking about "social" websites, almost like it was not polite to point out where these businesses make their money.

Absolutely. That's the dishonest part about this conversation. G+ and FB make more money if you use your real name. Asking whether they are right or wrong about identity is allowing them to keep the conversation one step away from where it should be. G+ and FB use you real name. Fine. Here's the conversations that need to follow: 1) To what extent can they leverage that for profit? 2) Is this leading us to an internet that is non-anonymous by default, and do we want that?

Poole is right, but he's really just talking strategy. I do agree that G+ and FB are creating a vacuum to be filled with anonymous social services.


It looks like a social network that allowed you to actively use multiple identities with one single login - what many people already do using special software, but in a cumbersome way - would hit the jackpot: Give users what they want, and give customers what they want too. If G+ did this, it would REALLY differentiate itself from FB.


what makes you think the general population cares about this vs the hackers that this article is about? are there any statistics to show this is more than a 1% phenomenon? i don't think my mom cares.


Agreed, my mom wouldn't care either. But using multiple identities isn't for hackers only. My wife, for example, would use it to separate her work persona from her family one. She is a heavy facebook user and separating those two identities is a big concern for her.


that's what circles are for.


Circles only solve part of the problem: What you publish can always be reshared and then linked to your (real) name. And of course you have to use your real name to start with.

With multiple identities, on the other hand, I could have my real identity, with my real name, and then - for example - my hacker identity, or my secretly gay identity or whatever. With the guarantee that for other users there is absolutely no way to connect the dots if I don't want that myself, but with an easy to use interface that allows me to manage them all as seamlessly as possible.

I personally wouldn't mind if the provider was able to connect the dots and use that information for targeted advertising - as long as it doesn't sell my identity to the advertisers, only the target. And this could become a real differentiator from FB.


that only works if you are so careful with your identities that they can't be linked. so that won't help your wife. there certainly are people who want this, but the burden of proof is on you to show that demand is more than hypothetical or anecdotal. this is a niche feature, not a killer app.


I never claimed to have proof that there would be sufficient demand for this. But if I had to prove something, I would start looking at the number of users who use apps that allow you to use multiple twitter, facebook etc. accounts.

By the way, my wife already manages different identities by using different services (ie facebook and linkedin).


Facebook forbids a lot of things, but that doesn't mean that they don't happen anyway. Before you ask me, I don't have any data about how many multiple accounts there are on FB, but my anecdotal experience suggests that there are many. I also think that it would be very interesting to actually take a survey about that, and about how many people would like to have multiple identities without violating the TOS.

About resharing, of course if you use the same real name in both services that would't be different from circles - it would just make it much harder to reshare, but by no way impossible. That's not my wife's use case. But if you use different names, tracing you becomes pretty difficult.


so what's to stop someone from resharing an update of hers from facebook to linkedin? i don't see any real difference from circles.

facebook does not allow multiple accounts. twitter doesn't have that many users.

"niche".


we all know somebody who posted the "wrong" thing on Facebook at least once...


The average dude mightnot care yet, but s/he will care in the future. A few years ago it was common practice to participate in mailing lists, forums, etc. using your real name. Then people gradual learned that that had consequences and nowadays nobody really does it. The same goes for posting pictures of you and/or friends and family on an open webpage, nobody does that anymore because people learned the potential problems with doing that.

People haven't put facebook and G+ through the same judgement as they have put the internet in general. They still look at it as a place were they can conveniently post personal information. But eventually they will.

An interesting phenomenon occurs among adult people that go through a serious relationship break up. Most go back to their private life and abandon their facebook activity for obvious reasons. So I would say, people will eventually care.


On the other hand, most of Google's (adwords) customers still target their ads based on keywords. That is, they don't care if their audience is an engineer or a farmer, as long as they are currently interested in their product. And it clearly works well, based on the prices of keywords. So it's not like adsense won't work without G+


Google is being paid per click. They're probably also targeting the ads using their own data, so they can achieve maximum click and revenue revenue per ad shown.


I guess I'm the minority, but if I had the option a filter engineer vs farmer based on click history it would beneficial.


> I just think this point tends to be overlooked when talking about "social" websites, almost like it was not polite to point out where these businesses make their money.

I am not sure that this is overlooked. I think most people know it is as so obviously true that it doesn't need restating anymore.


The way moot promoted "the Twitter way", I find it hard to believe. Twitter's multiple-disjointed-throwaway-identities model is completely useless to advertisers, and as such it will never be adopted by commercial websites on the same scale as the G+/FB model (unless you prescribe it by law).




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