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Google+ broke our trust (zdnet.com)
361 points by andor 909 days ago | hide | past | web | 238 comments | favorite



I don't get it. So Brin announces to the world that Google+ is the new sliced bread in 2011. Then he tells a small group of people that he thinks he personally should not have been involved with G+. Also the leader of the G+ project leaves (one month after the project started? One month after Brin had his candid talk recently?)

Where in this is the broken trust? What is the author actually upset about? Seems to me like in 2011 Brin and co. thought Google+ was the future. Now Brin simply is admitting that he personally might not have been the right person to take this on and perhaps it was a bad idea (not clear from the poorly written article). On top of that the author is trying to make a story out of the project leader leaving precisely because there was no story there.

I think this piece is terribly written and there is no story behind it. G+ is not my favorite product but I think this is just an outburst of anger that does not deserve our attention.


The problem was the G+ was pitched as a social network. It grew, like a cancer, into some weird meta-project that defies description, and along the way fucked over lots of people who worked very hard to maintain different identities and roles in the various on-line milieus they frequented. Sometimes it was as simple as revealing their real name to their model plane group. Other times it involved just shutting down real income generating youtube channels that people had poured lots of time and effort into (thousands of hours), or revealing to abusive ex-spouses where you lived...all without any real good reason and zero upside to the users of the various Google properties and dubious upside to Google as a business.

This was very costly for Google just on the employment front as well. Word on the street is that Google had upwards of 1,200 employees working on the G+ project. Fully burdened, that's something like $250-300m/year.

There was no upside for the entire project, for users or for google. So now, a couple $billion later, they finally realized what everybody else on the planet realized 2 years ago. They could have just surveyed users back then to find out where they were screwing up, but in typical Google fashion, that would have involved actually engaging with their users, which Google is borderline allergic to.


>They could have just surveyed users back then to find out where they were screwing up, but in typical Google fashion, that would have involved actually engaging with their users, which Google is borderline allergic to.

Yup. Google never grew out of that phase--the Steve Jobs Phase, I like to call it. Obviously when Google started they knew what users didn't even know they wanted. Efficient search. Great webmail. Etc. But then Google (should have) realized it was a business with customers who aren't always idiots. It did not. It still really hasn't.


>The problem was the G+ was pitched as a social network. It grew, like a cancer, into some weird meta-project that defies description

Really?

It was a single sign-on system to Google properties, tied to a social networking thing. accounts.google.com came not far after plus.google.com.

Google wanted to avoid becoming MySpace and wanted to mimic Facebook, and miscalculated slightly.

Personally, I really like being able to sign in once to Google properties. I like that YouTube comments now have real names on them. It makes them much less toxic.

How is it that Google+ shut down youtube channels? Changing the display name is all I've seen it do.


> I like that YouTube comments now have real names on them. It makes them much less toxic.

Not sure what part of Youtube you're browsing but comment quality has not increased in any way with the real names policy from what I've seen. Just a lot of Google+ mentions embedded in comments now with the same asinine comments.


Google had a single sign-on system before G+. I still use it, refusing to sign up for G+. What it didn't have was a single identity system; you didn't have one public identity across all services, although you did have one account.


I agree on the real names. It truly cleaned up the nonsense and brings more peace of mind to those who scyually make YouTube money - the popular channel operators.

We get way less idiocy now.


See, I don't see that as a user. The bad comments sections used to be full of bad puns and arguments, but now they're just smaller and full of contentless "watch this" mentions. On channels where the comments used to be good, they are now rare and inaccurate.


The "watch this" mentions are something different - that's Google's way of trying to make things go viral (or something like that) on their social feeds, and I believe is completely unnecessary.


I believe they're just comments pulled in from google+ threads that mention the video in question, based on the logic that all comments on the video should be grouped. The problem is that people don't actually comment on videos on google+, they just share content.


the point of the article is that google has lost trust, and google+ along with strange, self-serving behavior of executives is how. that much is undeniable.


What was the underhanded thing that it did? If you put your real name AND sensitive info into a public system, especially one you do not understand, what do you trust will happen? What does Brin's confession of not being the best person to create a social network have to do with it?


If you put your real name AND sensitive info into a public system

A _changing_ public system. You put your phone number into your address book. You sign up for a Gmail address. Fast forward one year, these items are suddenly combined without warning.


From where do you get the idea that the author is complaining about anything being underhanded?

Brin's "confession" has something to do with it because he was instrumental to creating it in the first place, and someone with the power to correct many of the problems if he wanted to. Instead he's washed his hands of it, and left a segment of his users in the lurch.


The author is complaining about losing trust.


Losing trust does not imply that anything underhanded has occurred.


It wasn't underhanded. It was overhanded. It was forced on their users to the detriment of pretty much everything associated. Tyranny supplants trust.

If "Igor Partola" is your real name, I think statistically there's a good chance that you understand this innately.

Now, you can argue that the trust was misplaced, or that the author's use of the word "trust" to describe the basis of their users's relationship with and affinity for Google, but I think this is a quibble. It's straight-up goodwill that has been squandered, and it is not in Google's character to admit failure (Scorpion and the Frog), which further corrodes the connection between the company and its users.

"What did you expect?" Yeah, well screw you, too. If Eric Schmidt wants to tell us that if we don't want to use our real names and stuff on Google+ that we don't have to use the service at all, then hey, "I'm a step ahead of you, bub." That's why this article exists, and that's why Sergey is slithering away from G+, and that's why Vic Gundotra left, and at the end of the day Google has a massive failure on their hands and they have too much money to even countenance facts. What will be the Information Age equivalent of wearing Kleenex boxes on one's feet?

"I have nothing to admit," said Gilles Deleuze once upon a time, but the market has eaten up large companies before. While Google-large falling by the Internet wayside would be fairly seismic in historical terms, it would happen slowly enough for nobody to really notice. People already talk about the ins-and-outs of Facebook, it's not a huge jump for them to start talking about the ups-and-downs of DuckDuckGo. Google's already helping that happen by converting Chrome's address bar, where grandmas the world over type what they're looking for, into the browser's search field.


Where on earth did the Gilles Deleuze quote come from?


Semiotext(e) 2.3, 1977, reprinted in "Negotiations."


Bob, a transgender person, has a Youtube account under his transgender name of "Bob". He also has a Gmail account under his birth name of Becky.

Youtube gets bought by Google. G+ happens. Suddenly Bob is being forced to use his birth name on his Youtube account. If Bob is unlucky his current name or his birth name are outed. While it shouldn't matter if people know that Bob is transgender we live in a world where people are beaten or killed for this.


if youre asking me personally what they did to lose my trust, it's all the things i mention and even some i didn't. i think the executives are creepy as hell, especially eric schmidt. have you read all the sexcapades stuff about him in the WSJ? Affairs with murdochs wife. She's pretty damn creepy herself. He doesn't think the laws apply to him, and most people would say, by now, that's true; he's part of the plutocracy and the laws don't apply to him. i say bullshit and that the laws apply to everybody. the stock decisions they've made to keep control away from shareholders, the sunsetting of products unilaterally. No, I don't trust Google at all.


You should probably read further than the first paragraph.


The rest of the article was just an unrelated rant about the outdated real names thing on G+.


Outdated?


I wish both Google and Microsoft would understand that you can't force change down users' throats. It needs to come naturally. They need to want it, and have it grow organically.

Sure, forcing them will definitely bring you bigger "adoption" (for lack of a better word) faster, but it will also build up a lot of resentment, potentially negating any advantage you might have from ramming the change through, in the long run.

A lot of people didn't understand Twitter in the first 3+ years, but it still managed to grow organically, because people wanted to join it over the years. Google tried to push Google+ to its 1 billion users within 2 years, with seemingly very little advantage for the users. What did they expect?

Same for Microsoft when it comes to pushing Metro to PC users who have been perfectly happy with their PC interface, but Microsoft wanted to force them to use a tablet interface on a PC. Why? Because Microsoft said so, and because they would get to flash "bigger numbers" to developers for "Metro users". The actual experience of the user on a desktop was barely a distant concern.

If you're a big corporation, and you can't grow a new business organically, then tough luck. Maybe you shouldn't be in that market then.


I cannot applaud your comments enough. Microsoft has absolutely lost their mind trying to push the Windows 8 tablet interface on desktop users; Google+ integration is one of the biggest threats to user engagements (and personal safety in many cases). On one hand I see that their missteps create opportunity for new companies; but on the other hand, it worries me about the lack of alternatives and what it means if I can't use an OS or social network that doesn't want to absolutely fuck me over.

Honestly, all we need is a search engine that returns decent results and doesn't try to tell the world who we are (DuckDuckGo) and a social network that lets us only communicate the way we want, to who we want (???).


I wish both Google and Microsoft would understand that you can't force change down users' throat

Innovation is a funny thing, and interestingly, forcing change on end users is something for which Apple regularly receives praise. Or as Henry Ford pointed out, people wanted faster horses. Few people probably wanted rush hour gridlock either.

Denonymization of the internet had already happened long before G÷. Cookies and tracking data were collected for more than a decade before its rollout. G÷ just made it explicit, and Apple was already ahead via iOS and the app store and the SIM cards in all those phones. Microsoft was barely a step behind them, and for me? Well I think the Metro interface has huge advantage over WIMP. It's cloud identity integration that drove me from Windows 8. Installation was the Oh-Shit moment.


Except people are ignoring the significant market growth slowdown that Apple has lost since Job's departure. A lot of old school Apple-friendly press always cheer each Apple release, but the reality is Apple hasn't really been "Apple" for some time. You have to remember that all of the news Apple released last week doesn't matter to the average user/consumer. The biggest news from Apple over the last 3 years to the average consumer was that they bought Beats headphones.


I disagree. Facebook forces changes upon users all the time, with success. For example, the news feed was suddenly forced on everyone, even amid much protest. The difference between FB and Google+ is that most users end up liking FB's changes, whereas that can't be said of Google+.


> The difference between FB and Google+ is that most users end up liking FB's changes, whereas that can't be said of Google+.

There's a difference between product changes (e.g. Facebook's news feed) and policy changes (e.g. forcing Google+ use for other Google products). People aren't upset with Google because they changed anything about G+, it's because they changed everything else for G+.


I don't think there's a difference at all. If you force a change (product/policy/whatever) and that change is generally desired, then it will work. FB forced changes that were popular. Google forced changes that were unpopular. I think that's pretty much all there is to it. Forcing changes in of itself doesn't lead to failure.


I have to disagree. The changes (esp in regards to privacy policy) are what made me jump ship to G+ in the first place. And based on the comments from most of my friends on FB at the time, they weren't happy either.


> I wish both Google and Microsoft AND Apple ...

Right!?


Yeah, the new iOS uses the iCloud on American soil for all your pictures and videos by default...


Shareholders and analysts don't have the patience for a 3-year organic rampup. They want promises and returns by the end of the quarter. This is what happens when you go public.


3 people together hold enough voting power to make all decisions, and those 3 people wrote in their S-1 that they have no intention to ever listen to shareholders and analysts.


Yet there we all were, on the eve of the Facebook S-1 filing, all asking Google what are you gonna do about social?.


> understand that you can't force change down users' throats

Actually, they can. When you are Google/Microsoft/Facebook/etc-grade oligopolist it requires quite extraordinary changes to ward off your users who are already hooked to your services. I.e. the changes that actually prevent them from further using the service, or make transition to another one (if there's any) less painful than managing to live within the new environment.


> Google+ embodied the Internet's cardinal sin: It broke everything it touched

I think this is the most important single line of the piece. G+ was pretty broken from the get go despite some promising ideas. But instead of focusing around what was working, Google simply amplified all the broken garbage -- then spread it around everywhere, making everything toxic, cancerous.

It's one of those many weird cases where you sit there, hands on your desk, mouth agape looking at some Google property that was fucked over by the G+ project and just ask yourself "doesn't anybody at Google use this garbage?". Because the issues are so immediate and so obvious, it's impossible that nobody raised some red flags.

Which leaves two possibilities:

- Google is composed of such inept socially awkward people that no red flags were raised and they all just proceeded on course doo dee doo doo dee (a scenario I find very hard to believe)

- Red flags were raised and simply brushed aside.

The first scenario is hard to believe because it presumes mass and gross incompetence on behalf of most of the employees at Google. But I know googlers, I've been interviews by Google, I've had various interactions with people from Google, and most of them just seem like normal folks from a variety of backgrounds.

As more and more leaks out it sounds like the second scenario is where it's at, and the question is why? Was it just some dumb headed attempt to extract any money possible for the major shareholders by turning the brand into garbage? Or was it just an honest attempt at unifying the properties, just managed at an absolutely amateurish level?

It's all so senseless and stupid and now everything is broken.

The sad thing is, this is something I see all the time, one hopelessly broken pet project is carried by the good idea fairy to some senior manager, and they being a cascade of failures across the rest of the company on something they probably have convinced themselves is just a big gamble with lots of upside. By the time the damage is done and widely recognized, the exec is out the door on their golden parachute leaving the remaining veterans to pick up the pieces and unfuck things. Except in this case, the ultimate party responsible holds half of the majority voting rights and continues to blissfully push socially inept product ideas. The only remediation is a long unfucking process and some possible minor impact on share price, meaning he can only buy 2 300' yachts instead of 2 350' yachts.


One of the things that struck me when I worked at Google was that its early rejection of anything that smelled of management or process directly led to the emergence of "Just get things done" sort of mantra, but the scale of early screw-ups limited the ability to get things done only to 'trusted' (generally low employee # folks with a track record) people. I managed to push a project through, in spite of the fact that I wasn't a low numbered employee, but it took 6x longer than it should have and required a crap ton more politicing than it would have if a different person had pushed it. (One person I knew there, given the combination of their history and reputation, could have probably gotten it done in 3 or 4 months)

What that does is greatly magnify the influence of a small number of people and completely nullify the influence of a large number of people. At the time I left, there was some institutional awareness of this issue (heaven knows I had shared it enough with the leadership) but the 'fix' (random injection of 'management' was itself not going well).

And all of that to say, that it takes both good people and good structure to make this happen. I realized I wasn't plugged into the organization at a place where I could make that level of change occur. So when I read the article I recognized a bit of self awareness in Sergi at his over sized influence in a negative way on the product, and a dysfunctional organization which could not guide, or if necessary prevent that influence.

The irony is that if Google was as well managed as a place like NetApp under Warmhoven or GE was under Welch, it would mega-corp scary. (Granted it still can be to an extent, but quite extremely so)


> And all of that to say, that it takes both good people and good structure to make this happen.

Yeah, and that's sort of the problem with absolute dictatorships in practice, even benevolent ones. Sometimes the dictator can get wrapped up in some "good idea" and they really need a diverse set of voices confirming or checking bad ideas at the door before, like in this case, a billion dollars or more of corporate value is flushed down the drain and huge swaths of users are alienated from the brand.


I think there was a more thought-provoking part than the "broke everything it touched" line:

Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt told National Public Radio digital editor Andy Carvin in 2011 that if people don't want to use their real names, then they shouldn't use Google+. He explained that Google should be considered "an identity service" with Google+ as the foundation across all its products.

Google, particularly its senior executives, have been utterly unrepentant as they've systematically trashed their once hallowed "do no evil" philosophy. The thing I find disappointing is that more people didn't take Schmidt's advice and stop using Google's services.

There are plenty of alternative search engines, e-mail services, video hosting sites, mobile operating systems and browsers. Outside these five, Google have relatively few big success stories anyway. Their track record in recent years has mostly been one failure after another, even sometimes damaging their established brands like YouTube and Google Maps.

And yet despite all the complaining, a lot of users seem to stick by them. I can understand that behaviour with Facebook (and Google+ itself) because of the inherent network effect, but the longevity of Google's brand loyalty is remarkable.


> There are plenty of alternative search engines, e-mail services, video hosting sites, mobile operating systems and browsers.

Really? And who knows about all those alternatives?

I realized how big Google was when I was reading a book and the author said "Google <term>, ....", and it took me a second to parse that sentence. At first glance I thought he was saying something about Google corporation, but then I quickly realized he was telling to me look something up on the web. Google is synonymous with web search, and Gmail is probably synonymous with webmail.


Yes, it's a utility now as the OP pointed out.


I think one thing that's now well appreciated is the network effects of the other bits of Google's product offering.

- Search - try searching for something on Bing with somebody else in the room and get the "why don't you just Google it?"

- Youtube, absolutely a strong network effect. I follow a bunch of retrogaming channels, and earlier this year Google's copyright monitoring processes and software lost its fool mind and drove a bunch of people (representing millions of views) off of the site because they had a half second clip of some background sound from a 30 year old video game in a video. After a while they all returned because they couldn't get traffic anywhere near the volume they were previously seeing.

- gmail - should be self explanatory

- maps - nothing else really is quite as good and definitely isn't as well integrated where you need it, your phone


If I could find a good alternative to gmail, I'd take it in a second. Over the years, I've really started to dislike gmail, and most of google's services.


Did you mean a good _free_ alternative? Or just a good alternative?


Just a good alternative, I'm willing to pay, I just get scared sometimes that I'm going to lose out on quality by moving away from gmail.

But the more time goes on, the more I hate the interface changes to gmail, and IMAP to my local client is something that can happen with just about any service.


Fastmail is really good.


Google+ is the main reason I am very reluctant to get an Android phone.


Same here. I'd love to have a smartphone, but I don't want a smartphone that relies on any of the major mobile OS platforms today. I don't trust any of them not to do some combination of spying on me and/or forcing unwelcome changes on me later. Until someone credible comes along and breaks that pattern, I'll stick with cheap and cheerful Nokia feature phones and the like.


Do you have to have google+ to have an Android?


- Google is composed of such inept socially awkward people that no red flags were raised and they all just proceeded on course doo dee doo doo dee (a scenario I find very hard to believe)

The other possibility is that Facebook evolved from a relatively small idea to a very large one, attending to users along the way (Peter Thiel discusses this issue in one of his lectures; G+ launched as a huge product that had to succeed right away, based on what Google engineers thought users want and based on the need to be something Facebook isn't.


> Red flags were raised and simply brushed aside.

People working at Google are smart (and majority that I know are smarter than me). Smart people are going to point that something is wrong. But they will not bitch too much because that will be "career-limiting move".


Not true, I was at Google at the time and many of us complained mightily on our internal forums.

That said, there were a disturbing number of middle-level management types that would high five every move Google made, good or bad. And I think they turn into the echo chamber that gives idiocy like this its momentum.


The huge success of Facebook and Twitter, the Social Network movie (October 2010) and the introduction of Apple’s iTunes Ping (September 2010) probably added a lot to this momentum.


Now that's a funny image: I'm imagining a time-traveller coming back from the future where Google has created Skynet, and telling Apple "if you create a social network in 2010—don't worry, you can shut it down a year later—you'll scare Google into pushing their own social network out the door, it'll infect their tech culture utterly, and you'll gain a five-year lead on anything you want to put out from them on. (Also, the timeline will be saved.)"


Well, yes, people working at Google are smart but also very arrogant, I rarely see them listening to the users, you know, cause there is no way the "product" know better than them.


Sometimes smart people do dumb things. Smart in one thing is not smart in everything.


Except in this case, the ultimate party responsible holds half of the majority voting rights and continues to blissfully push socially inept product ideas.

Not in the case. Vic Gundotra was responsible that did not hold majority voting rights, who managed to convince the Google founders that did have it.


If I'm not mistaken, Vic Gundotra was never the CEO of Google. ergo, he never was ultimately responsible.


I jumped on board early when I received an invite. I despised FB and was looking for for something that might actually resemble the tribe.net model of freedom and anonymity.

Unfortunately, I was told that I had to use my real name and signed up accordingly.

Everything was going along fine for about the first 9 months until I got into a small flame war with a woman in Canada about Scientologists (I used to work for some). That turned out to be the end of G+ for me.

It seems that the woman reported me for using a pseudonym, which to me and a few of my friends I obviously wasn't. I was livid! I immediately protested loud and clear in my timeline. One of my "hooped" IRL friends works at Yahoo! and told me that he had good connections at Google and could probably fix it for me. And that if he couldn't do that that he could at least vouch for me.

As he was trying to work his magic the pressure from Google was getting stronger. I had a big notice across my profile telling me that if I didn't provide legal proof of who I was that my account would be suspended in a week. I received the same threats in my gmail. So I started trying to work with them on this matter only to find that I was dealing with bots. I was beyond frustrated!

A few days later my friend came back to me and told me that there didn't seem to be much that he could do. I sure as hell didn't want to send them my my ID or birth certificate! So I caved in, scanned a court document with my full name on it and a judge's signature, and gmail'd it it.

I should mention that by this point Google had decided to lock my profile and place a huge notice across it demanding documents.

It took almost a full 2 weeks for them to get back to me and say that my document was legit. Well, duh!!

With my new found "legal" status I continued to use G+ for about another year or so. But as time marched on I became more and more disillusioned with Google and their products and interacted less and less with G+.

Then June 5th 2013 happened and I was introduced to the world of Edward Snowden. I immediately went and deleted everything from my profile and timeline (no small chore!). I then put a notice on my "about" page stating that due to privacy issues with Google and the NSA that this account is no longer active.

I now only use my gmail account, have been a happy DDG and IXquick user since before this all went down, and haven't been back to G+ since.


I can understand not wanting the NSA to snoop your correspondence. I can't understand letting Google do that for years, analyze it, profile you and sell that information to just about anyone, but then thinking that the NSA is the final straw.


Because "Google employees might find out that pron interested in computers and dogs" is less sensitive than "someone might send pron to a Saudi Arabian prison to be tortured because pron talks to someone with the same last name as a suspected revolutionary"


>"Google employees might find out that pron interested in computers and dogs"

This as an extremely naive characterization of what google knows about you. Google would probably guess that much about you if you had never used the internet, but had a few friends that did.


One thing I think many people miss in such privacy debates is that Google knows things about you that you don't know about yourself. (Clearly the sense of "know" in each case has to be somewhat different.)

For example, they probably know an enormous amount about your sleep habits (not just when, but where! ← from IP address data) and your travel (← from IP address data, not just Maps). There's plenty of noise in that data, but it's been collected over a long time.

They remember searches and interactions from many years ago that you don't. They might know about a fight or conflict with someone that you had in the past that you've forgotten. Thanks to Maps, they might know about excursions that you've taken that you no longer remember.

They may be able to determine things about the state or evolution of your relationships with other people when you're not consciously aware of those things yourself, in terms of patterns in how and when and how often you contact each other, and perhaps with what degree of affection or intimacy. (Obviously people often know a lot about the state of their own relationships, but they might not consciously notice certain kinds of gradual changes.)

If there are inferences that can be made from your searches, they might be able to make those inferences when you haven't made them yourself.

One example would be a disease that someone is trying unsuccessfully to self-diagnose (so they search for the symptoms), or a set of symptoms over a long period of time whose combined significance the sufferer never recognizes.

Another example would be a person who has same-sex sexual attractions that they haven't consciously admitted to themselves, but that are evidenced in some of their searches or search patterns or clicks on search results. (Or just other online activity; there was research about figuring out if people are gay from their Facebook likes, and there must be lots and lots of correlates.)

Clearly Google hasn't productized most of these inferences in the sense of making them available to advertisers to use for targeting. There are many possible reasons for that. Some inferences would require a manual analysis of data; some are too speculative and have too high a probability of error; some are too creepy or alarming to the user.

This actually makes me want to start a separate thread: What does Google know about you that you don't? (What questions about you can Google answer that you can't readily answer yourself?)


I think there is a big difference. As ubiquitous and powerful as Google is, the US government is vastly more powerful, and I think it's vastly more dangerous without accountability.


Well, perhaps more dangerous in theory. In practice, the biggest role the federal government has played in US history is that of liberating people from the tyranny of private businesses: first with slavery, then Teddy Roosevelt vs. the robber barons, the Civil Rights Acts (that prohibited private businesses from discriminating based on race), and most recently the (unfortunately not-so-successful) fight against private health insurance companies. In fact, given its limited powers (relative to other Western democracies), that's pretty much the only thing the US government does: businesses hurt people; people cry for the government to save them; government saves them. What they've been trying to do with terrorists over the past decade or so is small potatoes.


Devil's advocate: they imprison a lot of their own citizens (more per capita than any other country) and play empire across the world.


The obviously relevant US government (since it's the one that ended slavery, fought the robber barons, passed the Civil Rights Act, recently passed health insurance reform, and has limited powers compared to other western democracies) imprisons 216,896 people[0], or less than 0.07% of the US population.

State governments are not "the US government". If someone says "the US government", they are either referring to the federal government, or need to do a great deal more research before speaking about US governance.

[0] http://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/population_statistics.js...


The Drug War was started at a Federal level, with the Controlled Substances Act and the creation of the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency). [1] Approximately 1 in 10 Americans have been arrested on drug related charges since then, and even just looking at Federal prison facilities, 0.5 million people are incarcerated every year. [2]

And that's just drug policy. Abuses by Federal agencies are numerous across history into the present day, and have often taken place on a grand scale:

FBI misconduct: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fbi#Controversies

CIA misconduct: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cia#Controversies

US Military Interventions since 1890: http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Drugs

[2]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_incarceration_rat...


Right. Still, I find it strange that almost all attacks on personal freedom in America have been done by private businesses (or in the name of private business), and almost all defenses against such attacks have been placed by the US federal government, and yet some Americans still trust private corporations -- that have hurt them again and again -- more than the government that has rescued them from the clutches of corporations time after time. If there is one country in the whole world that should definitely trust its government more than its corporations, that would be the US.


Might have something to do with incarceration rates in united states and ridiculously high sentences/consequences for essentially small offences. If something qualify as attack on personal freedom, those two things do. Corporation can not lock you to prison for some petty offense, unless it has cooperation from government.


You realize that most prisons are privately owned and actively lobby for excuses to imprison people, right?



I'm a big proponent of government and a healthy mix of public and private enterprise. My point is mostly that I'm worried more about safeguards against a corrupt referee than a corrupt star player, to use a sports analogy.


> that's pretty much the only thing the US government does

Besides waging bloody, unnecessary war (War of 1812, Mexican War, Spanish American War, Vietnam War, Iraq War); instituting explicitly racist immigrating policies; waging a disastrous War on Drugs at home and abroad; instituting protectionist trade policies on behalf of rent-seeking corporations and unions; busting unions; interning thousands of innocent Japanese Americans; the mass expropriation from and relocation of thousands of Native Americans; and hundreds of less memorable abuses, not to mention its complicity with several of the ills you mentioned, yeah, sure, "pretty much the only thing" the US government has done has been protecting us from "the tyranny of private businesses".


I like how we're evaluating the USG of 2014 on the War of 1812, among other things.

I was involved in planning for a 200-year commemoration of the War of 1812. We invited the U.K. and Canada, amongst other nations, and they were glad to send representatives to the commemoration, despite the fact that the U.S. was at war with those 2 nations in 1812.


I was talking about domestic policy, which is the issue here. There is no doubt that the US government has done a lot of wrong, only much -- if not most -- of it has been done in the name of business. So your defense of Google (as a representative of private business) over the government, is that the government does a lot of bad when it's fighting on Google's side, and that it's not fighting against Google enough? Of course the government fights alongside capitalists most of the time, but the capitalists can do the same harm on their own (which they did when there was little government to stop them). The difference between American corporations and the American government, is that sometimes, when things get bad enough, the government turns against businesses, while the businesses themselves almost never do.


> I was talking about domestic policy, which is the issue here.

I responded to what you wrote, which had no such qualification. And I mentioned several domestic policies.

> So your defense of Google

It wasn't a defense of Google, it was a criticism of the government and a correction on what you wrote.

> Of course the government fights alongside capitalists most of the time

Which is one of its problems.


Among other differences, your relationship with Google is consensual, or at least largely so. The most extensive data collection Google does requires you to explicitly interact with its properties; tracking via ads and embeds often enables the sites you visit to sustain themselves, and, even if you want to quibble about how "consensual" that is, is trivially mitigated via free, brain-dead-simple browser extensions.

Put another way: you can enjoy the internet yet have little or no data go to Google. You cannot use the internet or the telephone in the US (and even, to an extent, in many foreign countries!) without data going to the NSA, with questionable benefit to you.

edit: typo


>Put another way: you can enjoy the internet yet have little or no data go to Google.

I'm not so sure about this. adwords/gAnalytics/some google tracking property is present on something like 40% of sites So they can see you leave one tracked property A, they may not know where B is, and then can pick up tracking you when visit C and then learn about B because of referrer data.


Please reread my comment; I addressed that.


Not really...You talk about being tracked by Google in the same breath that you talk about the relationship being consensual. If you have to work to prevent tracking because you don't want to and can't stop the tracking by simply saying Do Not Track, then its not very good informed consent


I said:

> tracking via ads and embeds often enables the sites you visit to sustain themselves, and, even if you want to quibble about how "consensual" that is, is trivially mitigated via free, brain-dead-simple browser extensions

So I addressed both its existence and the fact that there are issues regarding just how "consensual" the practice is. I concede that perhaps I should have used a term other than "quibble".


Google can't put you to jail. NSA (and the government) can.


Google leaking your real / alternate identity can get you killed or fired or beaten or arrested, and that's just for being transgender or homosexual.


There are things far worse then gaol


Fair point, I agree. My gmail addy is used as a back-up account. I use it for sign-ups, minor business, and as a spam trap.


I can't really understand the effort of deleting everything either. I highly doubt Google ever really deletes anything. Once you've sent it to their servers, the cat is out of the bag.


> I can't really understand the effort of deleting everything either. I highly doubt Google ever really deletes anything. Once you've sent it to their servers, the cat is out of the bag.

There are presumably technical differences in how this data is stored and processed over time, which may not be insignificant.

Delete data today and it might be wiped; delete data tomorrow and it might be parcelled into a company takeover.


I tend to think that deleting data gets it flagged forever. What are the last 5 status updates you deleted on Facebook, if you ever did it? How many dollars would you pay for your worst ennemy's deleted posts?


I'm fully aware of that. I just tried, if at all possible, to minimize the damage I brought onto myself. And to also try and show my hoopers how serious the privacy issue is.


"Only" gmail? But isn't email the most important part of your online life? I moved away completely from Google. Fastmail.fm instead of gmail was one of my first moves. And I never looked back...


See my reply to pron, but yes. Everyone, and all business, that I want to know me are in my contacts on another service. I also use Thunderbird, and PGP when possible, with my gmail account so at least I don't see any advertising.


For interested sake what do you think Google and the NSA would have been able to get out of G+, that they can not get out of email?

I understand you deleting the data does not remove it from Google but only publicly, but I just wonder.


In email I generally don't share all my beliefs and opinions whereas with G+ I did.


Google really asks for proof of real name if a single person reports you? I would imagine it only happens if a "ton" of people report you.


What made Google special in the past was having principles and walking the talk.

Those days when Altavista wanted to force people into watching noisy pop up advertisements with annoying colors before you could search anything, and this small company decided to just display text.

The days when everybody was onto portals to make the web enclosed inside gatekeepers hand and Google brought freedom.

Those days are over. Just the other day I had them trying to change my name in gmail and complete the information I gave them when gmail was invite only like my birthday or a picture of me.

When I refused I had them INSULTING ME!! Something alike "it seems you are so alone". Wow, if you don't use their "social private web", or any other social site you are alone, even if you have a blog with thousands of people visiting, and real friends you can talk, kiss or hug.

I am looking for Google alternatives right now.


As I say until people get sick of hearing it, google had:

1) principles and respect for its users, 2) great mathematical chops, and 3) clean UI.

1) is gone, and everybody has 2) and 3) now. Other than a moral center Google has never offered me anything that I couldn't get somewhere else. At least then, before alternate providers were driven out of business.

Right now, I have DDG as my moral search engine. Hopefully, one day, there will be a place for moral email or social.


I downloaded the new Firefox and made DuckDuckGo my default search engine in it, and it's actually working great. I figure I'll keep chrome going as well, but I'm starting the weaning process. The new Firefox is much better than the one out a couple years ago. Actually, it's very good. The google+ nagging freaked me out, as well as the fact that I somehow have thought it's been ok for them to scan.


>What made Google special in the past was having principles and walking the talk.

Principles? BS. What made Google special in the past was it started as an underdog (back in the day) and wanted to get people to get to using it (not just for search, but for several products it unveilled, to expand their fall-back options).

After it got people by the balls with Search, Gmail and Android, it's "so long, suckers".


As an intensive user, everywhere on Google products, I feel the Microsoftization. This includes documentation with corporate jargon, the bloated and confusing Hangout fiasco, the frustrating way to connect multiple identities together.

Did they hire any corporate UX/UI/branding/marketing/documentation guys from Redmond recently, after Larry Page's CEOship?


> Did they hire any corporate UX/UI/branding/marketing/documentation guys from Redmond recently, after Larry Page's CEOship?

Vic Gundotra was at Microsoft prior to joining Google https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vic_Gundotra


That explains a lot


It's an inescapable reality: companies grow and grow bloated and complacent. It happened to IBM and Microsoft, it happened to Google and it's happening now for Facebook. Once corporate mentality sets in the company's soul is gone.


My theory is that it involves excessively mediated reality. When Google was two guys, most of the people they talked to were not Google people. Now, my guess is that 95% of their conversations are with people they pay. Those people are more likely to tell them good things than bad things. And those people also think Google is pretty swell, because these who don't leave Google. And at Larry and Sergey's level, they probably aren't within three layers of external reality.

There's a diagnostic term: Acquired Situational Narcissism[1]. Basically, when a celebrity spends all their time around people who act like the celebrity is the most important person in the world, then they too start to believe it. I think there's a corporate version of that.

Imagine it: You created Google. You can buy anything. Everybody you spend time around defers to you. Of course you'd think you could do a better job of designing a social network than Facebook; half of humanity thinks that. The problem is that people will now let you do that.

Once you've done it, your very mediated reality makes it hard to know you've screwed up. Because everybody you talk to needs you to like them. Most of those people have gotten promoted a number of times, meaning they are very good at being liked by their bosses. And who doesn't like good news, especially about a pet project?

I'm not sure it's inescapable, but it certainly is the very common outcome.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism#Acquired_situational...


I saw Craig Newmark of Craig's List speak once after the late 90s bubble burst. He said people kept asking him why he didn't take up the many opportunities to make money he could have -- just one small ad on each page could have made hundreds of millions of dollars with hardly any change to the user experience. He calmly pointed out how many of them went bankrupt and had to change their ways. He seemed more than content with a site that delivered what its users wanted.

I'm sure they've made blunders along the way, but as far as I can tell they've remained true to their original ways. Wikipedia says they have a staff of 28.


Google has also hired a huge number of Microsoft people, that's going to have an effect on company culture. As well as consultant types from places like Mackenzie, Accenture, etc.

That's the problem with growing fast, hiring like crazy, acquiring like crazy, is that you don't have enough time to assimilate people into company culture properly.


I recently had to use YouTube for a project, and it's marketers and "audience engagement" all the way down. Their Playbook is probably the best example of the inmates running the asylum: https://www.youtube.com/yt/playbook/.


As a YouTuber for six years I can't tell you how depressing its been to watch this shit happen.

I remember attending my first VidCon, I was 18 and just graduated on high school and my first YouTube channel basically got fucked due to the fact my Adsense getting disabled (RIGHT BEFORE MY FIRST PAYCHECK WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SENT).

When I went to talk to the YouTube staff attending the event they informed me that it was out of their hands and that there was nothing they could do which is bullshit considering the exact same thing happened to a bigger YouTuber and it was fixed within a day.

YouTube sees their big channels as the example to follow - if it works for them, it must work for everyone. They gave out the Playbooks at the last VidCon in physical form and re-reading them just make sick because its not about making great content, its about how to make the most money.

They encourage you to try to hook your audience in the first 15 seconds, use all caps in your video titles BECAUSE THIS GRABS THE AUDIENCE'S ATTENTION BY THE BALLS APPARENTLY, they want you to remember to make sure you remind them to always like comment and subscribe, and try to encourage discussion by posing questions to your audience.

I understand they want content creators making money but the least they could do is actually help us rather than just pat us on the back and lie to us "Yea, these changes are gonna help grow your channel" is what we hear every time there's a new YouTube layout implemented. My first VidCon was when they announced Cosmic Panda, with every update we get less and less. I think with Google+ we were all just kind of fed up with taking the crap Google fed us and actually got mad about it.

Everyone saw this as YouTubers being angsty and hostile for no reason when in reality friends of mine who make their livings off their YouTube were seeing their views drop at least 30% minimum. Some of my friends saw 50-60% drop in views which caused some of them to rethink what they were gonna do, a few quit because they just couldn't pay the bills anymore.

YouTube needs to understand that they're not just messing with a users experience but they're also messing with people's livelihoods. They don't seem to get that, they never have.

Sorry for the rant, I needed to vent.


If you ask old people, they will tell you the same story, but about IBM. Every generation has its great, innovative tech company turned evil mastermind story. It seems to be hard to avoid. I wonder who will be next.


Exactly when do you think IBM 'turned evil mastermind'?

Because for me, that was in 1933: http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/


exactly. Larry Page reminds me of Steve Ballmer's remark on iPhone. I think Steve Ballmer is an excellent man, except having no idea about design: "... windows phone can DO email...". Larry Page thought Google can DO social, and he gets G+.


Same sentiments here.

Microsoft was the admirable company of the 90's for me, and more recently it's Apple and Google. I really hope Google doesn't continue on this path, though it seems to be unavoidable in some ways.

Don't be evil was a good start, it's too bad the motto is inversely proportional to capitalistic gains.


My problem with Google+ isn't the unification of Google's social platform. That makes absolute sense. The problem with Google+ is that it's way too opinionated.

It's a platform, not a product. A platform has to bend to the needs of its users, and those "users" aren't necessarily the people posting the comments - it's also the people hosting the comments on their YouTube pages and whatnot.

I appreciate wanting Plus to be backed by a "real" ID, but pseudonym support that fully anonymizes the user (and controls over whether pseudonymous users are allowed to post to your pages) should have been a day 1 feature, for example.


A suggestion for Google to save itself regarding G+:

Donate some of its engineers' time to fix and revitalize Diaspora -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaspora_%28social_network%29 -- or one of its peers or something along its original vision.

It could achieve its goal of disrupting Facebook, give users their privacy back, and by releasing the source code, could role back its role in maintaining the code or policing the community.

It could declare victory and move on, leaving its users more satisfied than they are now.


Agree 100%.

If history is any guide, major players will end up doing precisely that, eventually: setting up an industry-backed open consortium promoting some kind of application-layer protocol/stack built around Diaspora or any its peers [1,2,3,4,5,6]. That plus another round of 2011-like Facebook fatigue could very well induce the required phase transition. Who knows though: perhaps newer, leaner companies like Dropbox or GitHub would be more likely to take the lead instead.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_software_and_prot...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tent_(protocol)

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_Social_Networking_... (Defunct, apparently)

[3] http://www.gnu.org/software/social/ (!)

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenSocial (This MySpace-era protocol is interesting because it was initially supported by Google)

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OStatus


>It could achieve its goal of disrupting Facebook

The Facebook (as a product) ship has sailed. Even Facebook knows this, which is why it's offering and paying billions to any products/services that can and/or have stolen its eyeballs.

Perhaps the worst mistake Google made in all of this was strategic: rather than trying to out-Facebook Facebook with a competing product (and nearly destroying their own ecosystem in the process), Google should have focused on using their considerable resources to snap up companies that were indirectly taking mindshare and audience from Facebook.

In so doing, they could have left Facebook's core product to Facebook and virtually surrounded it with other products/services for that inevitable time when people were ready for anything but Facebook.

In other words, they should have pre-empted Facebook's current strategy vs. it's prior one. As it is, Google is one step behind.


I agree that would be cool, but I don't think Diaspora offers anything compelling to the general public. What fraction of FB users actually care that much about privacy?


By the amount of stuff I cannot see on a public profile pages lately and the amount of hidden friendslists - quite a lot in my somewhat diverse circle of friends.


Care? Most of them. Care enough to the extent they'd (figurally) vote with their wallets? Almost none.


In my experience, amongst non-technical people, around 95%. Amongst techies? A strong 20%.


Have you got these numbers backwards?


If that was accurate 95% of people would have stopped using Facebook when the NSA's wiretapping was uncovered. Last I checked Facebook hasn't missed a beat


They need facebook because they like their friends. Its immensely important to me that the government stop tapping my phone, but if you think the fact that I still call my grandmother is a sign of consent, you're a fool.


Most of the non-technical people I know are very VERY upset with facebook and privacy, but are still using it in much the same fashion as they're still using their AT&T phone or Comcast cable despite their distaste for policy.


Also that homepage is horrendous. The homepage doesn't tell me anything about why its relevant to me or how it can make my life better. It's selling me features instead of an experience.

"Host a pod"? What kind of illiterate donkey built this garbage. I could write a book about why this site is garbage as an alternative to Facebook.


You're replying to the wrong thing, and the comment is utterly worthless.


Is it even possible to reverse course on the G+ integrations now?

Would Google even want to, even if everyone agreed it was a bad idea in the first place?


That's an interesting question.

I can imagine this push resulted in some positive refactoring of Google's internal systems, which they would like to retain.

However I can also imagine it resulted in some layers of duct tape (very much like the rush job after a merger or acquisition), which they'd love to rip off.

It would be interesting to hear a Google insider talk about this. Meanwhile, my guess would be it's a mix of the above, and they'll be stuck with that mix for years to come.


Considering that the real-name policy is just that, a policy (albeit an automatically-enforced one), I don't see what technical problems would arise from its unilateral revocation. Just disable the flagging and be on your merry way.

The thing is, I suspect Google leadership still don't really see the policy as a problem. Brin said his involvement was a mistake -- because it tainted his image and his credentials, not because the policy itself was wrong. I suspect he still sees it as dirty work that somebody has to do, just not himself.


Do you realize how much more advertisers are willing to pay for targeted campaigns? That real identity G+ policy wasnt to stop trolls or some other bullshit, it was to build better database.


To change status quo you need to provide enough value to motivate that change:

Google Search: Search experience was completely disrupted. Since that moment people could focus on what they needed (no disturbing ads) and be more efficient.

Gmail: Google innovated and simplified a lot email experience. You can easily measure the importance of Gmail to people by the importance of Gmail to the Google brand.

Chrome: As an early adopter, I could feel specially the speed difference. I always knew that would be a matter of time till Chrome control the market.

Google+: I never understood what value Google was adding to social networks. Facebook at the time didn't need to be disrupted also. After some time G+ went in the direction of Linkedin but couldn't add enough value to make people to change also. IMHO Google+ weakens Google brand. As simple as that. Should be closed? That is a good question.


Facebook needed to be disrupted, but unfortunately the main way Facebook needed (and needs) to be disrupted is in compartmentalising sharing better, and while Circles accomplishes some of that, Googles real name policy pisses all over it.


As a user of Facebook and Linkedin I'm only moderately happy with the experience but I can't see myself changing soon. I would be happy to change to one social network that could "compartmentalize sharing better" (using your words) and be used for both social and work issues. If they could add some twitter functionality would be a plus. Is not efficient using different platforms all the time, would be easier to have one platform with different "modes".

There is plenty of space to disrupt the market but the status quo here is very strong. The problem is not if somebody changes or not, the problem is that everybody needs to change in mass or the network will be useless.


> I never understood what value Google was adding to social networks.

For me, the value was "intelligent conversation". It basically replaced HN for me until they changed the UI to be photo-centric and carded.

Ironically, it was when I added an HN circle that my signal-to-noise ratio dropped.

> Facebook at the time didn't need to be disrupted also.

Facebook has needed disruption since 2008.


Add Google Buzz, Orkut, Google Wave, Google Talk, Hangouts.

Its like Google is trying everything and hoping something would stick.


You don't see Apple making that. They focus on few things and make them great.


Like Ping? Every company has failures. Apple is much more secretive about what it is trying whereas Google is more open. As such the public sees all the 'beta' Google products, many of which will be closed down. There are benefits to both approaches.


My apple developer account name has @mac.com in it. Apple does plenty of throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.


I miss the days of Google Labs and twenty percent time.


Me too. I remember being excited about seeing what Google's next big thing was. I lost hope when Reader was shut down.


The Real Name policy was the beginning of the end for me, Reader being shut down made me lose interest in all new Google products, and Snowden made me stop using some of the ones I already had been.


The Real Name policy is noteworthy from starting out being fundamentally stupid at the "anyone who has spent a week online should know this" level, but still seemingly just a dumb mistake, to being downright malicious and evil the moment it was clear they had no intention of backtracking even after their attention had been brought to the risks it put some people in.


Just to be clear:

> OPINION: One month after creator and leader of Google+, Vic Gundotra, quietly quit, Google chief Sergey Brin told a conference audience last week that involvement in Google+ was "a mistake." He made the exact opposite statement in 2011.

Whose involvement are we talking about here ? Brin, Gundotra or Google ?

> If only someone could have stepped in and course-corrected Google+.

>

> Oh, right. Someone could have.

>

> The same someone that just told the world, "heh, oops" and walked away to go retreat back into himself, and play with his cars.

Is that someone Brin (who could have and has plenty of money to buy cars) or Gundotra (who could have and left the company a month ago - with enough money to play with cars I suppose) ?

(sorry for hand walking me but the style is confusing me)


I read it as being aimed at Brin.

It's sort of lazy and cheap to mostly use his hindsight in an article criticizing him. On the other hand, I guess there was plenty said at the time that called the real name policy a mistake.


It was ambiguous to me too, stylistically.

I don't know if Vic had any sort of popular affinity or affiliation with cars, so I construed it as referring to Brin and Google's pet self-driving vehicle projects (his cars), after having said "Google+ was a mistake" (heh, oops).


I think the cars refer to self-driving cars, which is a Google X project (Sergey runs Google X).


Google+ is just the most high profile symptom. The problem started when Google started using strategies against the fundamental nature of the internet.

We always assumed that Google was "good" because they understood and embraced the open and interconnected nature of the internet. They even stated so explicitly.

Google+, but also many other Google strategies follow the same pattern: trying to build walls instead of connecting, making things closed instead of more open.


For some reason, my email address is now linked to a name that is not mine. I've not yet bothered to figure out how to change it, but I wish for the sake of trans people that this error had been more common.


Gmail insists on respelling the name of one of my contacts; it's only one letter different, but it's slightly embarrassing that I seem not to know his name after eight years of working together.


Having never experienced anything like this from Gmail, I wonder if you have the misspelling stored in a contact.

I even have a sort of contrary anecdote, I added an accent to a contact name a few years ago and it has always just worked.


The misspelling seems to come from a (automatically created somehow?) Google+ profile.


Google+ was the beginning of the end where using Google service was concerned for me. These days, I use Google only as a search engine and nothing more.


"Opt in".

If you like e.g. "single sign-on", it should be your choice to set it up and participate. Not coercion. Not coercion holding your existing investment in various products (of which Google was and is acquiring ever more) hostage.

If what you are offering is of benefit to your users (should I use the word "customers"? -- a whole other discussion), you should be able to sell it to them -- on an "opt-in", "I'd like to use this feature" basis.

As Google+ rolled out, it became evident that it was anything but this.

True names. Then the stories -- accurate or not -- of account deletions.

I was damned if I was going to risk my longstanding Gmail account for the sake of trying out Plus. Fortunately, the integration was not so quick and thorough that I was at that time compelled to participate in Plus in order to keep that account. (Sign up for Gmail now, and you get a Plus profile, like it or not.)

Plus has some nice technical features, and some of the conversation I intersect (under a separate Google identity that I can afford to lose) during my limited interaction with it, consist of more thoughtful and interesting content.

But I'll never trust it -- Plus, that is.

Google showed us all, with Plus, the limits of their advocacy for us, the users.


I think it is pretty refreshing for an executive to be self critical and admit big mistakes. Sergey sounded authentic in that interview.

Scott Forestall was axed for Apple Maps, but seriously, you rewrite a Maps service from the ground up from scratch and race to release it in iOS6, of course it's going to be beta quality for a long time, since these things take time to mature. I highly doubt the decision to include it in that state was solely Scotts.

I like to see companies admit major strategic mistakes as opposed to pretending everything is awesome for all time. (and no, Tim Cook's letter was a kind of non-apology, only a single sentence really admitted any mistake 'We fell short of our commitment')


Agreed on the admitting mistakes part but mentioning Scott Forstall as an example doesn't follow.

From what I've read, Scott Forestall was fired less for the issues in the Maps application and more for his refusal to sign any sort of apology afterwards for its shortcomings. I'm sure there were other internal factors for his firing but his refusal to publicly admit a mistake was a significant part.


Maybe he felt he didn't need to apologize because he was forced to rush and release in iOS6?

What if the following conversation happened internally:

Scott: "Maps is not ready" Cook: "Maps must ship as part of iOS6, it's the headline feature. We are committed to this time table." Scott: "But there are lots of issues, lots of bugs." Cook: "Fix as many as possible before release, but we are shipping."

Then, after the fiasco, he is asked to apologize, wouldn't you feel that the people who didn't take your advice should be the ones to apologize?


To be fair the SMS+Hangouts integration seems to be what users want. Everybody and their dog is using Whatsapp by now, which is basically the same thing (I think - haven't used it).


I'd love to see Google+ turn into a LinkedIn and Facebook killer. I just have no use for Google+ at the moment. I don't really like the tiles display and would prefer a list.

The YouTube integration doesn't bother me at all because 1) I don't post YouTube comments, and 2) it's easy enough to just create a separate account for using with services that you don't want associated with your main Google account.


IMO the silently majority is tired of a panopticon of "look it me now" social services who's main use case is massaging users egos.

Google should start over, Android-first (instead of web -first) and make the phone Addressbook / Google Contacts the focal point for everything social. Look at WhatsApp - it does exactly this - your phone number is your ID and your contacts is your social graph; how you interact with them - who you call, message etc and when / where you do it - these are your circles

Meanwhile if you look at the direction Apple is going, eg new APIs for iCloud eg fingerprint authentication, new APIs for foto management / sharing etc etc. they look about ready to pounce on the whole of social...


A large amount of employees have been moved from Google+ to Hangouts and Android.

I think Hangouts is going to be their new standard, unfortunately the transition will likely be fragmented because it's not forced in Android yet.

I've seen a very positive response to Google Hangouts, if they successfully (seamlessly) integrate it into Android then it could be a wildly successfully product. I'm not crazy about the name ("Connect" would be a good alternative IMO) and there should be some more calling/voicemail integration features.


WhatsApp is awful. Why should I need to give my phone number to anyone I want to chat with? There is people with whom I might want to have a text chat without letting them call me, and vice versa. And why, in 2014, should a social account be tied to a particular device? Why doesn't WhatsApp let me use my tablet or my PC to interact with my friends?

If WhatsApp is an example of something, it's that the network effect can make inferior technologies "stick" and dominate markets over much better competitors.


I'd say iMessage over WhatsApp is the example of how to do it now. If Google copied iMessage feature-wise, syncing it between Chrome, Android and iOS, seamlessly integrating SMS and not, I think they'd have a winner.

WhatsApp is simpler but iMessage brings really useful features, and they strongly match Google's key competencies too.


> Google should start over, Android-first (instead of web -first) and make the phone Addressbook / Google Contacts the focal point for everything social. Look at WhatsApp - it does exactly this - your phone number is your ID and your contacts is your social graph; how you interact with them - who you call, message etc and when / where you do it - these are your circles

I find this fascinating, as unless I'm misunderstanding you, you're basically suggesting what G+ did to enrage users as described in the article, but seemingly worse:

Almost everyone have multiple "personalities". We don't share the same with our grandmother, our friends, our boss, our old class mates, random strangers and so on. This extends all the way to which names we use, how we dress in different situations, who we give our phone number to etc..

At first Google seemed to "get" this better than Facebook when they released G+. The moment Nymwars erupted it was clear they did not only not get this, but actively refused to learn.

For some this is not about hiding information. For some it is. For some it is a matter of actual survival - whether due to political involvement, or because of threats of revenge or abuse (think people avoiding abusing ex-partners etc.), or because of gender identity etc. (trans people have an incredible high suicide rate due in part to the reactions of wider society; on top of that there's actual violent reactions from people). Breaking compartmentalisation puts peoples lives at risk, not just cause embarrassing moments.

The first lesson one should learn in social, is that if you wish to create a social network that reflects how people interact, then people need to be able to full compartmentalise what different people see, down to and including your name and who else you are interacting with, and you need to make sure data are not easily leaking between those compartments and that needs to be holy.

In that respect, even having a single, unified addressbook / contacts list demonstrates that they don't understand (or has purposefully decided not to care about) real social networks (as opposed to the "panopticon" service you decry): It cuts as deep as not revealing all the information on all devices at all times - devices can be shared, or lent out, or someone might just glance at one at the wrong moment. It increases the risk of breaking compartmentalisation accidentally unless users are very tech savvy: Suddenly your device beeps, drawing attention to its screen, just as it displays a message the person sitting next to the device should not have seen.

If you're lucky / extremely conventional / boring, you laugh it off. If you're unlucky, it can cost you your job, your relationships, contact with your family, or your life.

Social networks is not just some fluffy web-app thing - it's the fabric of society, and they cut deep.


Exactly. If they'd required you use a real name under the hood but allowed you to present different pseudonymous "facades" for each Circle, and then let you just tie things like Youtube to a given facade? That would be wonderful.

It really seemed like that's the direction they had in mind at the start - understanding that you have familial relationships, online relationships, professional relationships, and letting you compartmentalize those.

But that was just an organizational tool. We needed it to be two-way - in that you need to control your identity as it relates to those circles.


Do you have any details of the rewrite, what does it imply?

Backend, frontend, etc?

Even if you can just point me to the source it would be appreciated.


It sounds like Sergey is saying that his involvement in Google+ was a mistake, not that that the company going down that path was a mistake. I think the author is taking the word "mistake" out of context:

"It was probably a mistake for me to be working on anything tangentially related to social to begin with."


I've been using G+ consistently for a week now after signing off from a competing social network. I thoroughly enjoy it so far. Why is G+ dead in the water?

EDIT: Fatfingered a random exclamation point


I think most people feel Google's incessant need to push it on every product leads to overexposure and this hate of G+. To further that, I closed my G+ account a few months ago due to inactivity. You'd better believe that the whole process made it sound like I was going to lose access to my email, my youtube account, etc. It wasn't a positive experience.


They dropped the ball on nearly every major integration in some spectacular fashion, essentially. Be it forced integration, loosing anonymity, or botching up the g-talk's chat history.

The chat history bit me. They used to have a really nice chat history that integrated into the email seamlessly and had good export options. It even worked through IMAP. Unfortunately that all disappeared when they made g-talk hangouts. Essentially it was a duct-tape job like mentioned above. Apparently their storage back-end is quite different and they didn't put the work in to allow for easy retrieval and review of full chat histories. Unfortunately I needed a mass of chat histories(a year) for Visa purposes and the switch was about two thirds in. Retrieving the newer stuff became a part time job :|

Other than that I kinda like G+. I also like real identity movement. Eventually I believe that will be a big differentiator for swaths of the internet. The civil, real name sites. And the seedy, anonymous underbelly.


Forced lack of anonymity and forced integration.


People say that G+ is dead in the water in order to create a tangential economic justification for their actual complaint.

Their actual complaint tends to be valid, whereas their claim about the prospects of G+ is generally bullshit.


I like to submit things like this to HN for a reason: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3106555&cid=41288357

And BTW I am thinking that the EU privacy policy fiasco is probably related. And to think that the EU courts recently ruled that current data protection laws requires that search engines must remove results on request.


We are google's product. We are bundled and cleaned and sold to advertisers. The google+ process was just a plan to tell their customers that they had a nice, leaner, more refined product. Previously, their customers were complaining that the product wasn't as verifiable. This is a bit like the organic food certification process.


Google+ made it just a little too clear that Google is in the business of remembering everything about those who interact with it.

The attitude of "Google knows best what's good for you, and doesn't have to justify itself or even acknowledge your objections" also doesn't mesh with what a social network should be, in the minds of many.


So far it has always been a good policy for me to take these lines literally:

>> Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information

>> and make it universally accessible ...

http://www.google.com/about/company/


"Brin told ... that ... he was “kind of a weirdo” and "It was probably a mistake for me to be working on anything tangentially related to social to begin with." - I respect him more now. Being late to market was probably a bigger mistake though.


You respect him for noticing this only now?


I don't think that G+ was a mistake. The only real issue is the real name policy, though I fail to see how they'd be able to enforce it. People could create alternate email addresses with fake names (and some did), and use it when they want to participate social "i-events" without giving up their id. It's been like that before G+, and it would only take a small move from them to correct it. Of course, the downside of this is that they wouldn't be able to claim a number of real users. But could any social site?

Btw, am I the only one to find the article title offensive, and unworthy of a place like zdnet? I wasn't a regular reader of their columns, I don't think that will help.


The problem with "people could just create fake identities" is that they'd basically be permanently living with the fear of being caught by google and having their entire identity erased, and all the comments would just be "duh, what did they expect creating an alternate email address with a fake name?"

That a bad policy is inconsistently enforced doesn't really make it any less harmful. Selective enforcement is more evil if anything, imo.

> Btw, am I the only one to find the article title offensive, and unworthy of a place like zdnet?

It's much less offensive than the G+ real name policy, so that's a weird focus. ;)


Well sure, as long as the real name policy is actively enforcable by G (which I doubt, but someone else apparently had to go through their enforcment practice), there's a risk. Then maybe it means that G isn't the right medium to express oneself anonymously and have an official virtual life. As I said, the only real problem is that policy.

> It's much less offensive than the G+ real name policy, so that's a weird focus. ;)

I don't think we have the same definition of offensive (please correct me if my second language english is wrong). That policy was harmful, but I wouldn't qualify it as offensive. I think the article provides good examples where it was harmful.

That said, if you don't think it's inappropriate for someone to use anonymity (or is it her real name?) to insult someone else, you won't mind if I finish this comment by the same sentence? I won't, because I know that it's not necessary, and it would undermine the message I'm trying to convey, as it does in her case.


> I don't think we have the same definition of offensive (please correct me if my second language english is wrong). That policy was harmful, but I wouldn't qualify it as offensive. I think the article provides good examples where it was harmful.

I'm also not a native english speaker so I might well be misusing the term.

To me, it's not so much that it's harmful, but that the people it's harming, who are likely already marginalized, disadvantaged groups, are just entirely discounted and brushed off because they don't conform to some convenient but real-world-incompatible idea of how people live their identities. That harm and those people are apparently not as important as some business goal. That offends me.

Meanwhile, someone on the internet getting angry enough to use an insult like that is just a form of expression, it helps to define the emotional context of the writing, conveys some indignance, etc.

Why would an insult convey more offense than all the criticism in the article already does? I guess one might argue that abandoning a courteous "tone" of writing betrays a lack of respect. Imo the article already makes it pretty clear (especially towards the end) that respect has been lost, so the insult hardly makes that "offense" any worse. The author doesn't feel respected by Brin and feels exploited, so why would Brin be owed civility in turn?

It's also a particularly harmless insult that as far as I can tell has no vile connotations and implies nothing worse about the subject than that they're a jerk, so basically that they come off as disrespectful. It's pretty easy to convey that one thinks that someone is a jerk, or an asshole, or whatever, and it's usually considered okay to do so, so I don't see why being direct about it is more offensive rather than just, say, more abrasive or less polite.

In the situation of basically-helpless end user raging against the machine that is Google, I don't really think anonymity matters either. Unlike in a case of actual harmful harassment or abuse, I don't think Brin has a legimitate interest in discovering the whatever personal information about the insulting party, and if he thinks he does there are probably plenty of legal ways to go about it.

And anyway, whether the name on the article is the author's "real name" or not (contemplating which seems kind of ironic in this context), it's at most ~pseudonymous~, not anonymous at all. The name is definitely linked to a real identity, and anyway, authors have been getting away with completely made-up pen names for ages.

It's kind of strange to me that apparently it's more appropriate to insult someone if one puts one's real (however that is measured) identity on the line, given how wildly that varies in significance and consequences. That'd set the bar to entry at really unfairly different heights for different people.

That's a lot of words about this sidetrack, sorry for probably boring you, but I'm kinda fascinated by how people differ in deciding whether something is offensive.


>That harm and those people are apparently not as important as some business goal. That offends me.

I understand your point.

> Why would an insult convey more offense than all the criticism in the article already does?

That really depends on the aim of the article. If it is to express a feeling, fine, she did express her feeling. If it is to make a point, she shouldn't, or one might simply say she cannot have a rational discussion, because it simply doesn't prove anything. Google didn't use insult, it undisclosed private information. While it is senseless, it's not an offense, in the sense that there's no proof that it was intended to hurt. I don't believe that S. Brin woke up one day with the idea of harming people, or do you think that is what happened? If it were the case: if I had been the victim of a deliberate attempt at hurting me by disclosing things about me that I consider private, I would be seriously pissed. The question is: was it deliberate, or was it simply an error, or a misunderstanding? People make mistakes, that's unfortunate, but it's understandable. She, otoh, cursed voluntarily.

> It's also a particularly harmless insult that as far as I can tell

That's anyone's appreciation. In a different culture, it might well be the worse thing you could say to someone. The fact that it carry already a insulting connotation is enough: there's no way someone could take it as a compliment, thus whether it is harmless or the worse one could say is besides the point, the message is clear.

> That's a lot of words about this sidetrack

For a minor issue, that happened in _the title_, but I surely don't care that much.


> If it is to make a point, she shouldn't, or one might simply say she cannot have a rational discussion, because it simply doesn't prove anything.

One might say that, but I don't think that would delegitimatize her position at all. If someone seeks to be offended to avoid having to engage with the actual argument, that's on them, and they probably didn't need the pretense of caring about the insult to begin with.

> The question is: was it deliberate, or was it simply an error, or a misunderstanding? People make mistakes, that's unfortunate, but it's understandable.

The problems with google's approach have been pointed out almost immediately after their policy became known. If it was a simple mistake in the sense of an accident, it would have been corrected then. Google might not have set out to cause harm, but drafting their policies and sticking to them in contempt of the harm they are causing is a deliberate, voluntary move.

For a hamhanded car analogy, if someone parks in a parking space for the disabled out of laziness, and now some guy in a wheelchair has to cover another block's worth of distance because he had to park elsewhere, it's not okay just because they didn't do it to cause him harm, it's still bad because they didn't care enough about not causing him harm to avoid it. Something that hurts a disadvantaged group out of disregard for their needs rather than out of malice is still cause for offense and not just a mistake.

> In a different culture, it might well be the worse thing you could say to someone.

I think that's really unlikely. I might conjecture a hypothetical culture where insults are expected and polite, but I think it's sufficient to look at the actual cultural context. Correct me if I am missing something, but "jerkface" is the blandest, least serious insult I can think of. It doesn't invoke gross body parts, religion, sexual language, the subject's intelligence, morals, looks or status. In fact, I cannot imagine anyone using it without irony, going intentionally for a weak and childish insult.

> For a minor issue, that happened in _the title_, but I surely don't care that much.

Yeah, just to be clear, I didn't mean to complain that you started talking about the title, just that I needed so many words to respond.


> The problems with google's approach have been pointed out almost immediately after their policy became known.

I've been the devil's advocate til now, I will not give up so easily. If people knew about this policy, then they couldn't have opt out of the service and look for something more amenable to their needs of privacy, couldn't they?

>For a hamhanded car analogy, if someone parks in a parking space for the disabled out of laziness, and now some guy in a wheelchair has to cover another block's worth of distance because he had to park elsewhere,

The policy there wasn't that someone took that reserved parking place, it's that the place simply disappeared from that parking lot. So yeah, it does suck, but there are other parking lots to use (which also mean other shops, if that guy in a wheelchair liked Google's ones, tough luck).

> I think that's really unlikely. I might conjecture a hypothetical culture where insults are expected and polite, but I think it's sufficient to look at the actual cultural context. Correct me if I am missing something, but "jerkface" is the blandest, least serious insult I can think of. It doesn't invoke gross body parts, religion, sexual language, the subject's intelligence, morals, looks or status. In fact, I cannot imagine anyone using it without irony, going intentionally for a weak and childish insult.

Really? Do kids use that insult? Well, I don't speak English fluently enough (especially cursing), and I'm not going to pull a dictionary definition to verify it. If indeed it's as you say, then that's a misunderstanding on my side, and I clearly deserved a downvote for that. I'll take your word for it.


The real issues were real names, the attempt to force use of a single identity across multiple Web properties and the difficulty of being able to work out what would be be visible to what people under what circumstances.

Which is really daft, considering that the whole 'Circles' thing was initially designed to do away with the 'different content for different audiences' issue originally.


Google Buzz and now Google+.

Google stop trying to be Facebook! You need to change course and focus on the consumer(customer service) & their privacy.

Otherwise others will and are starting to eat your lunch!


Good job. You are now merely 3 years behind everyone else on your commentary.

Your next quest is to formulate a complaint about Google Reader shutting down.


When someone now says doing something was a mistake, I sure hope the statement is in stark contrast with their sentiments at the time they were doing it. Otherwise, why do it?


I think G+ could've owned the "social internet" without the "real id" rule.

They had the chance to drive facebook and twitter out of business... they blew it.


> Google+ broke our trust

Google Reader did it for me. ..and did it for every product where I'm on paying $. I have hardly used google+ and I haven't missed a thing.


What is the future of Google+? Is Google trying to pivot it into something different? Or Google+ will be just a platform (for login, profile info, etc).


I think many of the policies that have been changed towards the usage of a real name are intrusive to privacy, but I have no pity on people who require privacy and lose it after willingly continuing to use a service that is known to conduct such practices.


That's a rather harsh way to limit your pity. I won't go so far as making the standard analogies of victim-blaming.


So, what's your real name?



Using and loving G+ and Hangouts to this day. I like how easy it is to get a group chat or a video chat going in the browser, and I like the increased control over sharing I have, especially relative to FB. (I can even share with people who don't want to log in because they hate the service. My FB friends cannot.)

I'm trying to sift through the complaints to see if they're relevant to me, but haven't had much luck so far.

1. Everything

Complaints on the order of "it broke everything" just seem hyperbolic and silly.

2. Nymwars

I think they should allow pseudonyms, but I don't blame the company for trying build something tied a little tighter to real world identities after fighting a decade long war against fraud and spam behind the scenes. I feel like it's within their prerogative to say they're building an identity service, because pseudonym based logins are already widely available. Faulting them for that choice is a bit like saying you don't like Gmail because you think email is stupid.

3. YouTube

Among the other major complaints is that they broke YouTube comments, ie, the worst den of inane and offensive comments on the internet since 4chan. Good for them, the team deserves a medal.

Someone made a mashup just to illustrate the depravity of comments on the video site a few years ago: http://comments.thatsaspicymeatball.com/

4. Popularity

Probably the other tacit criticism is that Google launched a service that didn't immediately trounce all other social media sites, delivering everything for everyone. It's used by a mere 350 million people. It's been criticized for that number being only a third of its registered base, but that seems perfectly on track or better than estimates for other social media sites. Twitter's active userbase is probably roughly 20%, for example:

http://www.businessinsider.com/twitter-total-registered-user...

It's weird that a site with 350 million active monthly users is considered an embarrassing failure. I'm sure lots of services would be happy to trade userbases with G+.

It had a few cool features. It wasn't world changing. I feel like it hit some of the Segwey effect, a victim of its hype more than of its failings.

5. Aesthetics.

I feel this is the most inarguable complaint. Some people don't like the style of G+, don't like its approach to usability, or find its sharing system needlessly complex or confusing. By all means, these individuals should not use the service. I don't like the look and feel of Pinterest. I shouldn't use Pinterest. To each her own. I worry some authors subtly shift this argument from "I don't like the feel of it," or even, "My friends don't like it," to "It is a failure of design that no one should use." Seems a bit unfair.

I believe there are good usability guidelines, but I don't subscribe to the belief that there is a perfect one size fits all, that all implementations of any service will eventually converge to one platonic form. Competition is good because we all like different things, each find different styles more intuitive.

I'd be happy to consider other arguments, but so far allegations of the service's abject horribleness seem somewhat exaggerated.


I suspected there weren't very many legitimate criticisms, that this was mostly emotional iconoclasm.

Silent downvotes are a sort of confirming evidence.


If there's one video that shows off the purposefully confusing Google+ and Youtube integration mess, its this one of a woman literally crying because of it.

Warning: Strong language

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ccxiwu4MaJs


I can sympathize with the woman in the video because I also always kept declining to link my YouTube login to my G+ login. I'm also considering deleting my Google account, and I expect that due to the horrible Microsoft-style integration once I do that anything I might have uploaded to YouTube will also disappear.


I'm going to be a bit contrarian here: Google should have forced the issue and made it less painful. This "decline decline decline" business was a freaking embarrassment.

The correct approach is "Your youtube account is now part of your Google account. Create a Google account if you haven't got one already for this. If you need to use a pseudonym, you can attach a pseudonym to your Google account and that will carry your Youtube information".

No declining, because that was a soft promise that Google had trouble keeping.


Hey, I can find videos of people angry at about anything that exists.

Apple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFOx81Lm34c Facebook: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhPzx2KLoUg Nature: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJNqn-Y3pdY

Ah! Why is it so hard to make everyone happy?


> Hey, I can find videos of people angry at about anything that exists.

Actually, you can't, and your post is a bit rediculous.

For "features of websites that are widely used", how many of them are part of youtube crying videos? Probably ~0.0001% and it certainly could be useful to call one out.


See, this is why Google wanted real names on Youtube. We've all read Youtube comments. They are the single worst comments on the Internet. Typically racist, usually mean, often obscene. Google really, through all this, just wanted to make the comments better on YouTube, I think. They heard everyone bitching and figured this was a way to make things less caustic. It didn't help, though...


I found them hilarious and often insightful expressions of honest humanity. Now, they're just shit. It's sad how much we're willing to give up to avoid every 100th comment being an aimless racial slur.


So, all this clever people working for Google thought about "making YouTube comments better" and all they came up was "kill anonymity!" and "name and shame! Time honored method to solve deviations from group think!"? Really? Oh well ..


> See, this is why Google wanted real names on Youtube. We've all read Youtube comments. They are the single worst comments on the Internet.

Removing some anonymity probably removed some viciousness in turn.

Flip side: for some bizarre reason, now we see the comments of just about everyone who shares a video on Youtube and all their friends who comment. Small to medium amounts of viciousness have been replaced with an immense void of vacuousness.


There is a pretty large warning when you go to delete your Google+ account https://plus.google.com/downgrade/

It seems that a deleted YouTube channel can still be recovered and that the only thing that's lost is the views, private messages, and comments.

The reason this lady deleted her account was that she was tired of receiving notifications, that setting can be changed here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/settings


> Why would someone make a video of themselves crying and post it on the internet?

More interesting: Why would someone make a well writtenish comment on the internet that is quite negative toward someone crying on the internet?

edit: you edited the quote out from underneath me. Good call imo.


Yeah, it's easy to put too much subjective content in a post unnecessarily.

I'd personally never post a video of me crying about a mistake I made on the internet for friends, family, employees/business contacts to potentially see, but there's no point in judging people when their actions don't harm anyone at all.


I didn't link my ID's, then one day I clicked the wrong button and ended up using YouTube with my real, full name (gross!). I looked for my playlist containing all the private videos I'd uploaded of my small children and it was gone!

I found the playlist later under my other, weird shadow YouTube account, but in the moment when I thought all the videos of my son's first years were gone (I do have backups... somewhere), I can easily imagine crying my eyes out.


I guess I can't comment on the video to support her.

I don't have google+.

In this case, google is creating a system where eventually the only discussion that can go on within the system will be by those who have google+. Those who disagree with google+ enough to not have it will not be able to participate in the discussion. I'm sure there are places and ways one can, but not in the comments to this youtube video.


We changed the title from "Thanks for nothing, jerkface" to the first subtitle of the article, which (a) isn't linkbait and (b) is more or less what the article seems to be about.


Google is interesting. Choc full of academically bright people, yet collectively dumb as fuck. Shame there is not a phd for common sense or being down to Earth.


Can you name one organization of 50,000 people that is collectively smart?


Large markets are very smart.

Smart is not necessarily nice. Without nice, incremental returns to smart may be negative. Furthermore, the terminal goal of a market is to give some group exactly what it wants. Such groups are often large, and their wants are defined by how their members act -- usually when others are not looking. A market does not care what anyone says they want.

It's a wonder the damn things aren't banned.


I liked the original wording better. This is yet another failure of Congress, not google.

Sorry for posting libertarian downvote-bait.


I'm having trouble understanding the first part of your comment. For the latter I don't understand what you mean by 'smart'. Without some forms of regulation, people would blissfully poison themselves with dangerous foods (for example).


Oh look its another goth chick blogging about Google and whats bad and whatever... Go back in your cave... noone told you to get involved with Google+ neither Google will go with you cause you based your life around Google+ ...

Why people nowadays take everything so granted... Guess what before 90 years people were going to the toilet...hmmm on their GARDENS!


> With Google+, it became clear that we were all little more than webs of flesh spun over packages of saleable data.

What data is allegedly being sold, and who is Google selling it to?


I don't see anywhere where the article alleges that the data is for sale, but that it is saleable.

One way of capitalizing on that, without selling the data, is to sell access to advertise on the basis of that data.

The point is not to claim that Google is selling our data, but just another way of stating that we're the product, not the customer.


The point is to try to lump Google together with companies that literally do sell customer data, e.g., credit card providers, supermarkets, stores at the mall, magazine publishers... They literally sell your non-anonymized, non-aggregated data, period.

It's an unfair lumping because what Google does is a far cry from that.


I didn't read it that way at all. I can see how it can be read that way, but it can likewise simply be read as making it clear that Google cares about advertisers rather than users.

Whether or not a subjective interpretation is that she is "trying to lump" Google together with these companies, she did not come straight out and make such an allegation in the article. When you then imply in your comment that she did, it's a bit rich to accuse her of "unfair lumping" afterwards.


The data is basically what products you like or might like. They sell this to anyone who wants to advertise using Adsense.


So how would you go about purchasing a list of products I like or might like?


You don't, that would be stupid of Google to sell that as it would be a one time sale.

Google holds that data and has advertisers come to them, and pay them to make sure their products are seen by the people interested in related products.

And the same thing next week.

And the same thing the week after.

The more information Google has on you to more accurately correlate your interests, the more valuable the data is and the more Google can charge for the access they provide.

Everything Google does to get you to give up more information is Google improving the product they have to sell.


In other words, user data is not for sale.


It is for sale. Just not in the way you thought it was.


No, see, that's not how words work.


That argument would have worked better if you'd not implied she'd written something she hasn't written above. If she'd made the direct claim that Google sells this data, you'd have had a point.

She didn't.

That she made claims about "saleable data" does not imply they've actually offered it up for sale.

See, that's not how words work.


News flash: Company co-founder and senior executive publicly supports own products!


News flash: Sergey now thinks that his working so closely on Google+ was a mistake.


Now that it's publicly dead in the water sure. But saying anything negative about your own products while they're still trying to push it as the next big thing? It'll never happen. Any executive that tried would be fired or sidelined. Public comments like that are purely a matter of marketing and PR, individuals (particularly senior ones) will always back the company message.

This is why you never hear anything from Microsoft other than Windows8 is great! Or alternatively, you never hear anything from Apple at all. It's the PR department's job, not the senior execs.


That's a lot of counterhate. Not wholly unwarranted, but severely one-sided.

Corporate products are not for dissidents or the privacy-focused. Period. The end. You need to find alts designed to be private and/or pay to not be subsidized for the profitizing of YOU - whoever you are or want to be.

Google wants to fold you into their walled garden by tilting all their products towards each other. Shocking. I can't think of any other... oh yeah right... EVERY massive tech company does this. Otherwise one of the other massive tech companies will eat their lunch within 10 years. You are the frog. They are the scorpion.

Also, part of force g+ is what you are seeing grow widely. Enough people are harmed or disgusted with the level of gaming of anonymity that the trolls have achieved that the real identity movement has grown pretty quickly.

I doubt large corporate interests will be able to find it profitable, over any minimally significant span of time, to preserve privacy and be a platform for social change/justice. The unintended consequence is also being a platform for the lulz. Don't be evil meets don't be bankrupt. If your platform is a cesspool, nobody will pay to swim there.


A lot of this hate presumably stems from Google's "Don't be evil". Google has been given a lot of trust. They then demonstrated very clearly that they can't be trusted to care at all, and are prepared to go as far as putting users lives at risk over users names.

> Also, part of force g+ is what you are seeing grow widely. Enough people are harmed or disgusted with the level of gaming of anonymity that the trolls have achieved that the real identity movement has grown pretty quickly.

So give people options to block people who don't use a real name (but realise that for the vast majority of G+ users you have no idea if they use their real name vs. just use a name that sounds real enough to not get flagged by Google) from being able to comment on your posts. That would address the concern of people who have a problem with anonymous or pseudonymous posts, without forcing such a policy on other subsets of users where it in many cases is a problem. Trans users and political dissidents is just a couple of the worst affected.

There are many sub-cultures where handles are more common than real name - there are hundreds of people I would recognize by handle, from e.g. the demo scene, musicians/artists, but where I would not have clue who they are if going by their "real" name.

> I doubt large corporate interests will be able to find it profitable, over any minimally significant span of time, to preserve privacy and be a platform for social change/justice.

For this reason, I expect we'll soon enough find that companies targeting certain groups of countries, like the EU, will eventually find themselves facing legal restrictions on demanding/publicizing real names on the grounds that it is deeply discriminatory against certain classes of people. I'd expect trans groups to eventually go after that if it starts becoming too difficult to use products and services without a legally recognized name.


The corporate ideology you're describing here is very situational. The notion that all things (ethics, civic responsibility, sustainability, long-term growth) should be sacrificed on the altar of next quarter's profits is historically young. People aren't obliged to accept it.

I expect that it will pass. During the last San Francisco Gold Rush, hydraulic mining was considered a reasonable practice:

http://science.kqed.org/quest/2010/11/18/gold-rush-sediment-...

People wouldn't do that anymore here no matter how profitable it is, because we recognize the long-term costs that go with the short-term gains. Capitalism is a fine way to structure certain socially beneficial economic exchanges, but it makes a poor religion.




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