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Don’t Be Evil [Opinion]

In 1997 two college kids started a company based on a pet project of theirs. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had worked together to create a search engine that bested every other competitor in every conceivable way. Their goal was simple: Help regular humans find things easily on the Internet.

As Google began to make money through its innovative advertising system, it began to acquire companies and develop solutions outside of search. Brin and Page, joined by CEO Eric Schmidt, had a vision of the world becoming a better place. Their naive company motto was “Don’t be evil.” 

Recently there have been reports that Google has been changing its focus as a company for the past few years. Once a company focused on search, Google has apparently shifted focus to social networking to anticipate demand for more personalized search results. Perhaps more importantly, Google is trying to create a lineup of products that will be deeply integrated into every part of consumers’ lives from search to smartphones to TV to music. The question is, why is Google changing so dramatically? The answer: advertising.

Are you curious why Google has been shoving Google Plus down users’ throats? The answer isn’t that Google wants to make a better Facebook. There was a time when Google made products to challenge an industry to do better. Google Plus isn’t about challenging Facebook and Twitter to do better, it’s about killing Facebook and Twitter so that people are sharing their personal information with Google’s advertisers instead of Facebook’s. The more information Google has about you, the better ads Google can show you and the more money Google will make. Google has realized that the only way to survive as an advertising company is to get as much information from people as possible. When Google realized the Facebook and Twitter deals to crawl their pages for information weren’t going to happen, they began to push Google Plus harder than ever. Again, for Google, Google Plus isn’t about making a better product; Google Plus is about surviving as an advertising company.

Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google and current Chairman of the Board, recently announced that somewhere between 97 to 98% of Google’s revenues come from advertising. Google has used that money to buy smaller companies and develop products like Android and Chrome, but those products are also used to feed into Google’s advertising.

People used Google search because it was simply the best way to find things on the Internet. Not everyone uses Android or YouTube or Gmail because it’s the best. Many have an Android phone because they didn’t want an iPhone or because it was cheap. Many use Gmail because they don’t like Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail. You get the point: Google had one great product, so some trusted them to make more great products and others turned to them because they were better than an alternative.

Google has convinced users that they can get decent products for free. The problem is, Google’s services aren’t really free. You pay for Google services with your personal information: your email, your music preferences, your social networking conversations, the videos you watch, the apps you use, etc. As Mike Elgan noted a few years ago, you are not Google’s customer; you are their product to sell to advertisers.

I grew up in a world where companies wanted my money in exchange for services and products, but my children will grow up in a world where corporations will exchange services and products for information. If I exchange my money for a product, I can always make more money. If I buy a bad product I’m out some money, but I can make a better decision with my money later. Information is a different kind of commodity, especially personal information.

I would much rather buy products and services from companies with my money, not my personal information. I don’t want to sell myself to Google or Facebook. More importantly, I struggle with trusting a company that wants my information instead of my money.

Google is on a dangerous path. In order for Google to succeed it needs to get advertisements in front of peoples’ eyes. The more advertisements people see and respond to, the more money Google will make. Google doesn’t want to make a better TV because they want to make good products; they want to make a better TV so that people will use their services and see their ads.

It is hard to change the world for the better when that requires people giving up their information to advertisers. As Joshua Topolsky of The Verge has pointed out many times before, humans are made up of more than what they like and don’t like. Our lives are not simply a collection of playlists, likes, TV shows, and books. Our preferences and the content we consume do not make up our person, but they are valuable.

Google is a fantastic company. I believe that their original vision of changing the world for the better is still a part of the company, but I think they’ve lost their way in the method by which they are attempting to achieve their vision. If Google began to sell their products for money instead of information I think they’d be a better company with a much better chance of achieving their goal. If Google continues to be an advertising company instead of one that wants to change the world through better products, then they need to earn users’ trust. They need to convince users that Google is a safe place to store your pictures, movies, music, documents, blog, posts to social networks, money, address, phone number, email, etc. Google is asking for more than any other company in history. Remember, advertising isn’t the only way for Google to pay the bills.

  • Steve Schneider

    Is it just me or did anyone else notice the fbook share, g+1 and Retweet links at the bottom of the article?

  • Steve Schneider

    Lol I just thought I’d point out, under this post there’s a facebook share, a G+1 and a Retweet… Did anyone else catch that?

  • Kurt Edens

    There are a lot of conflicting points in these comments.  A lot of nonsense made up responses and a lot of uneducated guessing.    I could go on and on for hours if I were to dissect a number of these responses.  

    Google does have a long list of integrated products that can be accessed from one single log in. Great imho. but after creating a new account, I can say with the utmost certainty that most if not all services require an individual profile creation or some degree account set up steps to actually become an active user of that specific service.   Ive seen a lot of people here mention something or other about being forced into using their different products if you want to use just one.   They do make it easy to use others if you are set up with one, but no one is forcing you to use any of their services. Many just choose to because they make better services, with more features that do not cost money.

    I know what Ron is referring to when he mentions the many out there that cannot tell a file explorer from a web browser and think that the only way to find a website is to type the general name of the company into Google and then click – “Official Page” in the sponsored link.  (It actually is a great way to find a site, I do it myself at times)  Ive worked in a tech support job over the phone and would direct users to our site using the url, and telling them to type it into the address bar and they would respond by asking which link do they click in Google after doing that.   

    That aside, being unfamiliar and/or ignorant when it comes to services we use is not a fault of Google.  There are resources in this world, many of them Free if you now how to look, to learn about anything and everything you could possibly want to.  Google is not being more Evil because they have created a way to provide killer services with no monetary requirement.  People are uninformed on many things because they are, simply put, lazy.  

    Someone that is using a service, say gmail for example, that handles your personal things ought to familiarize themselves with it.  Email is a great example because many people use it as a primary communication method and share a number of things with a number of people using it.   So why is it that most people are either in too much of a rush, are too lazy, or just don’t care enough to read a privacy policy and ToS before signing up for and using a service?  

    Google is not to blame for peoples lack of knowledge, it is all there for them.

    Some of my main things I use my Google account for are my contact list, my email, and my calender.  You reveal a ton of personal info in those three services alone.  So you can be damn sure I made myself familiar with how my info will be used.

    I think Google is actually very honest with their ad services.  I can opt out of things, delete my history, adjust my  interests, and even block up to 500 of their advertisers.   Most ad companies would laugh if you told them you would like them to not show you ads from company X or company Y.  Or call you nuts if you say you would appreciate it if they would show you ads on Item ABC instead of item 123.    

    I feel Google is doing great in my opinion. There is always room to improve and in their line of business making sure people feel confident in the safety of their information is critical.   I say keep it up Google, but make sure to keep our confidence in mind. 

    • I think you’re right that Google tries to be very clear with their privacy policy and terms of service, but as you said people are lazy and many wouldn’t understand it if they read it. I work it tech support too. It’s astounding how many people search when you give them a URL. So the question is, does Google have to be even more vigilant about people’s privacy knowing that most people don’t read the privacy policy? Do they have that responsibility? I think they do if they want to avoid being evil. Many people are clearly fine with getting Google’s services for free, which is fine, but Google needs to be very responsible with that information. I just think selling products for money simplifies that relationship and minimizes trust issues.

  • CORYK333

    Im not that important/interesting (except in my own mind), so if i keep getting things like YOUTUBE, Android, etc in exchange for my info, im all for it. Do you realize how many people there are world??

  • TC Infantino

    I don’t agree with this article at all.  If Google is making a better phone, tv, email, etc.., just so they can use that device to gain more information about me and my preferences, then I am fine with that.  Because…I am still getting a Better phone, tv, email, etc.  I don’t really care about their motivations (unless they are funding a dictator or terrorist organization), as long as they actually make a product or service that is better, then I will chose to use them.  So what if they want my info, I am not stupid enough to put private or embarassing personal info on social media sites, or anywhere on the net.  I am very happy when the ads that are on my screen are actually about things that are relevant to my interests. 

  • Ros

    Money won’t make anyone being evil. As far as Google’s still making good products&services and trying to let me know any changes they’re about to make, I’m okay with it and don’t consider it as “being evil”.

  • SolipsisticPsychologist

    This is an outstanding article. This is exactly the way I feel about Google and their unstable views on customer privacy. I’m so sick of them abusing privacy like it does not matter in the slightest. I mean the whole collecting information from unencrypted routers while driving around in their Google Earth cars was just creepy and way over the line. I love Google products, love my Android phone, and their search engine just can’t be beat. But their blatant violations of user privacy and the amount of information they demand of you in order to use their services, well, i just do not trust Google at all anymore. I now go out of my way to avoid having to interact with them if I can. It feels like any product or service of theirs that I touch, will instantly be tainted by way of having data harvested.

    And as much as it saddens me I’ve even considered not using their smartphones or tablets anymore. There is no way I would switch to the completely closed nature of Apple devices, I guess I’d just stop using a smartphone and go back to a dumb phone. Used to be when I wanted to send a crash log to a developer, I actually got the option of whether I wanted to include with sending “anonymous” data to Google as well. But of course I would always uncheck that box, and it’s creepy how it’s checked by default. But now I’m assuming you don’t even have that choice sadly, with new phones. I don’t know this completely, but I’m pretty damn sure. Because I just bought a Rezound, and when I click to send a report when I get a Force Close, well the first thing that pops up is some long as hell vague legal mumbo jumbo agreement that I have to hit “Agree” before I can even send the report! So I don’t know what comes after that but I’m assuming Google has removed something that was once voluntary, just to collect more freaking data. So this actually makes the developers suffer because I won’t send crash reports now that they are tainted by Google data harvesting.

    And Google owning YouTube is another horrible thing they are using to data mine. Before I could have my sifted through Gmail account, which is truly creepy in of itself, and also have a YouTube account. But oh no, not good enough for Google now. Now they need to know exactly what videos I’m watching too! I can’t have my original separate YouTube account any longer,I now am forced to associate it with a Gmail account and log in with that. They just move in to established things that work and force you to assign it to one account they amass data from. Google has become like an electronic oppressive dictator when it comes to how they collect data on you and how everything has to be centralized and monitored. I’m sick if it and totally sick of Google!

    • S_T_R

      You have an instinctual paranoia of “information gathering”. This article presents the same concern. Therefore, you assume it’s great because it confirms your emotional bias. It’s not really “outstanding”, you just agree with it. If anything, this article is similar to the other op-eds on this site, which are decent, but usually wit a hole or two in the argument. Such holes are also common.

      Average doesn’t mean not worthwhile. Confirmation of your personal biases doesn’t mean higher quality. Thinking otherwise is what creates sheep. It’s not what you buy that makes you a sheep, but the level of critical thought you put into things you’re told. You, despite your 3 blocks of text, have put not critical thought into your response to this. Try harder to get out of your sheep-box next time.

  • Craig White

    It’s really not any different than broadcast radio or broadcast television where they are delivering eyes and ears to the advertisers – just in a more random, ignorant way. That they can provide targeted advertisements is a plus because being a 50+ male, I’m really not interested in seeing ads for L’Oreal products and if it tracked that I was searching for plane tickets and offers advertisements from travel sites to me, it’s far more likely to be something that I’m interested in.

    Let’s put it another way… Amazon tracks me like crazy. They send me at least 1 e-mail a day and often featuring products I researched on their web site but didn’t buy. I don’t see the harm in this – it’s sort of relevant to my interests.

    The point is that any successful company whose medium is the Internet has to continually analyze my interests and purchasing habits to have a chance at offering me something I would be buy and the more relevant, the better. I think your statement… “Our lives are not simply a collection of playlists, likes, TV shows and books.” is true but your conclusion that “Our preferences and the content we consume do not make up our person” is wrong… you are what you eat (and prefer and consume) – at least as far as any possible vendor to these interests and again, I would rather have relevant products and services offered to me.

  • In your opinion, you have not highlighted any of Google’s social efforts to even out your evaluation that Google is straying from the path of making the world a better place. Why don’t you mention what they immediately do after Japan’s earthquake last year? Google launched services to offer help to the victims whereas Apple continued to announce and launch their iPad2. Even Google delayed their new launch after Jobs died.

    • The point of the article wasn’t to list the good and bad things that Google has done. Have they done some great charity work? Absolutely, but that wasn’t the point of the article. The point of the article also wasn’t to talk about Apple’s history with charitable actions. The point of the article was to question whether or not Google can maintain their vision of making te world a better place by selling users’ information. Google is doing great things, but they’re also doing questionable things. The question is, which are they doing more of?

  • Taglogical

    Great opinion article. Google is preying on naive/ignorant people. Google as a ‘people’s company’ has done a complete 180 (imo).

  • So if I read this right businesses want to make money by selling something to someone else? Just a tip, advertisers have been buying up your personal information long before Google or the internet. I guess you had some spare time to type up something totally obvious… this met my DUH quota for the month.. thanks!

    • Yes, advertisers have been after our information for centuries, but the Internet changed the way advertisers get and record information. The level of information gathering that Google is able to achieve has never been seen before by any advertising company. We’re dealing with new methods of gaining and maintaining personal information and most people aren’t aware of how that works.

  • Daggy1985

    Personally I don’t get what the big fuss is about our “personal” information, I choose what information to put out there. It’s not like Google is giving out my SS#, and Credit Card numbers. And getting ads that are targeted towards what I am searching for, no big deal, in fact fantastic maybe I’ll find a better product I never realized was there. 

    Personally I’m perfectly fine with Google getting their revenue through advertising, I don’t think I would have ever started using much of Google’s ecosystem if it wasn’t free. Google makes great free products that I enjoy using everyday, and I think them using my “personal” information to target some ads to me is not a bad thing.

  • WickedToby741

    What Google really needs to do is offer a sort of “Google Prime” where users can choose to pay a yearly fee to avoid the sale of your information to advertisers. Similar to how there are ad-free versions of games for a price, Google needs to offer users an opt-out of all of the information selling if they so choose to pay for it. I don’t think Google’s intentions are bad, but they’re necessary to stay competitive with the likes of Facebook and Twitter in advertising. If Google gave their users a premium option that guaranteed their privacy, I think a lot of people would consider it. The bottom line is that it’s an information age and you can either embrace it or abandon things like computers, the internet, and cell phones entirely.

  • Dwight Sumner

    …I don’t get how these companies can’t understand the concept…”the bigger the guy, the harder the fall” …even Rome fell!

  • marcusmaximus04

    “I would much rather buy products and services from companies with my money, not my personal information.”

    And I would, by far, prefer the opposite. If I give them my personal information(and make even a slight attempt at controlling *what* information is given) then I lose absolutely nothing. In fact, giving them controlled amounts of my information stands to be mutually beneficial, since the ads that I see are better targeted towards being things that, hey, I might actually want, and otherwise wouldn’t have known about.

    Obviously, this also carries some responsibility on my part. I have to make sure that the information I give them isn’t shared publicly unless I want it to be(as in don’t click “Share Publicly” and just assume that it’ll know that I didn’t really want to share it with everyone). I have to make sure other people I know don’t share information about me if I don’t want it out there, and similarly I need to do the same for them.

    Honestly, though, none of these are all that difficult to do(most require no real thought at all), and in exchange I get excellent products at 0 cost AND better targeted ads that make sure I see things I really want. Sounds pretty ideal to me.

    • For some that may be ideal, but most people don’t understand that that’s what’s happening. They don’t know how much information they’re sharing and they don’t know how to be responsible about how much information they’re sharing. No one reads privacy policies and even if they did, most humans wouldn’t understand them. People barely understand what email is, much less what it means to share their information with Google. Doing that requires an enormous amount of trust, and most people don’t realize that.

      • minuett

        I completely agree with Marcus.  I enjoy being offered products that are customized to my tastes and habits. I’m not being forced to patronize them. There’s a convenience factor to having an ad for exactly the type of products and services I utilize at my fingertips.  It is not a hardship, and it isn’t intimidating.   

        And I enjoy a good debate, but I take exception to your generalizations. “most people”, “most humans”,  “no one reads…”.  I disagree.  I can name 20 friends right now off the top of my head who read and understand privacy policies.  The email comment is just blather.

        • You and I (and your 20 friends) are the minority. Most people do not understand how technology works much less what privacy policies mean.

  • bakdroid

    Ron, leave this site and never come back. Go to your iOS, walled off garden articles that you love to write. Yet another horribly written article that is completely off base. If you hate google and android, then leave. No one will miss you here.

    • CORYK333

      Settle down chief, settle down

  • greenbacks

    The more data/information someone has the more control they have.  Knowledge is power

  • Personally… idc if Google knows my search, likes, purchases, etc. It makes my everyday experiences better, it makes my searches and inquiries better, it makes my shopping easier, it makes my voice commands perfect, it … well its simply better.

    If I want to be hidden… then I turn off certain things or use incognito tabs, or I go into my google account and delete it and opt out.

    I still think Google is focused on not being evil. FB is clearly more evil in its attempts and control of your data and focus on opt out only programs with changes that are never announced. At least Google gives plenty of time notice and defaults to you having to opt in to the service.

  • Ron has the worst articles. I keep hoping he will go away.

    • They’re marked opinion. If you don’t like them, don’t read them.

  • Droidzilla

    Ron, I’m normally with you to a point; but you lost me entirely, here.

    I love GMail, Google+, Google Music, Android, etc. The products work better for me than others (I’ve used iTunes, Safari, IE, Firefox, live.com mail, Facebook, etc.), and they’re free to boot. Google has made my life better in these areas for sure. In fact, each of the following have made my life better:
    Google Voice
    Google Talk
    Google Maps/Navigation
    Google Documents

    The list goes on. Also, I find each of Google’s offerings give me a better user experience than competing products. How is that being evil? How is that abandoning their initial principles to make things people need? They’re doing that for me and many others, and your gripe that people buying Android phones are just wanting an iPhone alternative or cheap is silly (sounds like what Apple fanbois say, honesty; maybe you should stop reading The Verge).

    As far as us “being the product,” guess what? We’re not fools. Everyone knows how ad-based, free products work. No one here is saying, “Golly, I had no idea Google used my information to sell ad space!” Get real; this is well known and we all agree to it (or [gasp] opt out). Here’s some more food for thought: You know who else does the exact same thing? Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, Nokia, etc. Everyone. Why are you singling out Google?

    So, to sum up this overlong post (maybe I should have simply done another rebuttal article), Google is doing the same thing the other companies are but providing a better product for less at the same time.

    What’s your beef, again? Sounds like a bunch of FUD and bias to me.

    • Jacob121791

      “Google is doing the same thing the other companies are but providing a better product for less at the same time.”
      Less? Almost all of Google’s products are free!!
      Nice comment though. +1

    • cphilano

      I am in total agreement with this post. The things I am able to do with Google’s service have changed my life for the better. Before GMail, how many of us were limited to little to know space to store our email? We were required to clean out our inboxes every so often. How about sending emails? Remember when the limit was 2MB or 5Mb? GMail was the first I had heard of to raise that limit?

      I remember life before Google Calendar. Syncing all of my events and meetings to my phone has been a life saver. Not just one calendar, but multiple calendars for personal and business events. Email and SMS notifications being sent to my phone was amazing. My poroduction skyrocketed.

      Being able to access documents on the go without having to transfer a file has been yet another perk. Google Docs made life simple and easy like every other service they have offered up. I just don’t understand how this article could suggest that Google stopped offering the best services. 

      Do any of you realize how much info your bank, insurance, the credit bureaus, or even your own telephone company gives out about you? It’s amazing how much I can do on the go right now. Can any of you imagine if Google hadn’t of innovated so much in the last 10 years? None of the old guard companies would have pushed any type of innovation besides Apple. We’d have IOS with pseudo multitasking and Blackberries with a slight change for the new and improved phone. Come people!

    • As far as people buying Android phones because they’re cheap or because they want an iPhone alternative, I speak with people every day who either were in that situation or are. I see tons of people who got whatever Android phone because it was free or who got an Android phone because it was like an iPhone but their carrier didn’t have iPhones. I’m definitely not saying that’s everyone, but it was a sizable number of people. Anyway, on to the meat of your response. 

      Google makes some great products. Gmail is fantastic. Google Maps is unparalleled (although Bing Maps are getting there). Search is unrivaled (DuckDuckGo may be a competitor at some point). Android is excellent on phones. I think you’re right that they make great products, but I don’t think people realize the cost. You say that we’re not fools. Maybe most of the people that read this website know how Google works, but the majority of people have no idea. Most people don’t know how email works. Most people don’t know what a browser is. They think Google is the Internet. There’s no way they understand how Google uses their information. If someone can’t figure out that Google and the Internet are two totally different things then they certainly won’t know what it means to opt out (much less how). 
      You’re also right that other companies subsidize their products with ads. The difference is, most companies don’t make the majority of their money from ads. Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, etc. didn’t make 98% of their money from ads. For Google to keep making money, they have to keep selling ads. If Microsoft or Apple got rid of ads in their services they’d still make money because their money comes from selling other products. That’s why I’m singling out Google – they’re the only major company whose existence is tied to their success as an advertising company. 

      I really appreciate the feedback. A lot of times people don’t take the time to write thoughtful responses. Thanks for taking the time to do so. Let me know what you think. 

      • sam

        You still have yet to point out how having different revenue sources (ads vs sales) changes the motivation behind a product.

        You make the assertion that ” Google doesn’t want to make a better TV because they want to make good products; they want to make a better TV so that people will use their services and see their ads.”

        When Google designed Google docs, Google music, talk, gmail, voice or g+ they wanted ad money. But they still said we have to make this better than the existing products. they had to convince us to switch over. Why should I upload my music? Why should I change my email address? Why should I learn a new word proccesor?

        But what does that mean for end user? In fact in my [Opinion] that is a better motivation. If I buy Word, Microsoft got my money. I’ve made an investment that I have to either live with or ditch and have wasted my money. Google docs has to maintain my loyalty to make them money.

        In the end they still want to make a better product.

        • It’s not that simple. Google advertises those products as free, when they really aren’t. Many don’t realize that they’re selling their personal information in exchange for these products. People will take an inferior product if it’s cheaper or free. It happens every day. Google makes some great products, but many could be a lot better. If Google can convince people that their “free” product is good enough compared to a paid product, they win. That doesn’t necessarily mean their products are better, it just means people pick cheaper over better sometimes. 

          • Dw_astor

            What makes anyone’s information, or for that matter, yours, so special? People always tend to overvalue their existence, but hence Facebook.

            And having established that Google makes great services, would you say, instead of them collecting any info from you, opt to pay the market value of it as subscription? Namely say $10 a day for an all inclusive Google services package, so $3,650 a year? If the answer is yes, then request it from google or petition for it. Unless you want Google to both NOT collect any info and NOT pay for their services. But that’d just make you a freeloader, no? Or what’s your idea? Google go and make revenue by selling stuff like car navigation or tv boxes then come back to throw all of their profits to provide you with free services?

          • My information is valuable to me, that’s all that matters. Some people don’t value information, which is fine (just like I don’t necessarily care if someone doesn’t value money). I just don’t want to use my information as a tradable commodity.

            Would I pay $3,650 a year for all of Google’s services? No, but that’s only because I don’t use all of them. I would happily pay $5 a month for Gmail, contacts, and calendar (which is the same price that Microsoft offers hosted Exchange for). I would also happily pay for services like Maps and Docs, but they don’t offer them as paid services so I use my money elsewhere. If Microsoft and Apple can be wildly successful by selling their products for money, so can Google. I believe Google would make even better products then because they’d have to compete with Microsoft and Apple head to head instead of drawing people in under the “free” label.

      • Droidzilla

        Thanks for the reply!

        As to your first point, I’m sure you’re aware that the plural of anecdote is not evidence. I speak to all kind of people that purchase Android phones because that’s what they like, and I know quite a few people who are completely ignorant of tech that get the iPhone because, well, they don’t really know why. They get it because it’s what other people have and Apple is “the best.” No comparison shopping, no trying other devices; it’s like any uneducated buying decision made on an impression.

        I’m not going to take my anecdotes and say that Android users are all smart, informed buyers who purchased Android because it’s what works best, nor that iPhone buyers are all brainwashed tech-illiterate who wouldn’t know an Android from a Symbian. I don’t have any numbers to back these impressions up, because the plural of anecdote is not evidence. Frankly, it doesn’t matter that you “talk with people every day” since I do, too, and have a dissimilar experience. It’s all opinion and conjecture (the same goes for you thinking people have no idea why Google offers awesome, free products).

        As to your second point, it doesn’t make any sense. You agree that Apple, MS, et al also get ad revenue and also employ the same tactics as Google to do so, but then you say that Google is the bad guy because MS, Apple, et al have other revenue streams. My question to this is: so what? Who cares if Google makes the bulk of its money selling ads? I personally love the business model. I get to do what I’d be doing anyway (emailing, searching, mapping, etc.), but with a better interface for free. Google gets to make money off of selling ads (which I’d see anyway) using bots and annonymised user data. What’s the problem, here?

        I’m sorry to say, but I can’t see a single, logical argument against Google in all this. If you really were legitimately worried about user information being used against us (in some nebulous, undefined context), you’d be leveling your complaints against all of the tech giants. Saying you’re leveling it against Google because they have the highest percentage of profit coming from ads is disingenuous; what’s the percentage for Mozilla, for instance? Or Opera? Dolphin? Facebook? Vlingo? You don’t seem to care about them, and many others just like them.

        So, to sum up, I find your entire line of reasoning arbitrary and your supposed evidence anecdotal. I’m left to think that either you really dislike Google, really like one of its rivals, or you’re just not thinking too hard. This is what I initially thought, and your clarification does nothing to change the initial impression your article left.

        • You’re right that we can both point to people we’ve spoken to til we’re blue in the face. That said, I’d like to see someone survey a ton of people. 

          I never said that Google is the bad guy, but they do require more trust from users than Microsoft or Apple. Do Apple and Microsoft use ads? Absolutely, but if they stopped using ads they wouldn’t see any significant drop in their revenues. Apple makes the majority of its money from hardware and Microsoft makes the majority of its money from software. If Google stopped using ads they’d lose 98% of their revenue if it wasn’t immediate substituted with subscriptions or donations or sold products. 

          Why is Google’s model different from Mozilla, Opera, Dolphin, etc.? Because Mozilla and co. are not trying to put ads on my email, videos, pictures, TV, movies, documents, social networking, etc.  (although that may change with Mozilla in time… we’ll see). Google is going after more private information than anyone else ever has. Google’s success depends on ads in all of these areas, which means Google needs to get more and more information from people. There’s a danger there. Some may not see the danger there, but I think it’s there. 

          It’s not that I really hate Google; I love Google. I just want people (including myself) to be able to trust them. They want a lot of information, so that requires a lot of trust. I also don’t think they have the best products available in every category, so I’m inclined to believe that if I paid for them then I might see better development. 

          Hopefully that helps to clarify some of my points… Man, we really need to get a podcast. 

          • Droidzilla

            Agreed on the podcast, but I wouldn’t be able to participate at work so I would miss out on the discussion. Still think it’d be awesome for the site, though.

            Here’s where your argument falls flat:
            “Do Apple and Microsoft use ads? Absolutely, but . . . ”

            The others do it, too, and you have no beef with them. Bias, whether you realise it or not. If you accuse Google and not the others, you’re inconsistent. It doesn’t matter that the others potentially can make money without ads, they don’t. Bottom line. And you have no issues with them. Inconsistent.

            Mozilla isn’t trying to place ads in your email because their email client doesn’t support ads. Do they have bots that crawl Thunderbird for email text? Do they crawl your websites on Firefox? I would assume so. Why wouldn’t they? I’ve always assumed this is the case. I also assume this is what MS does with Live mail, Apple with Mobile.me (or whatever they’re using these days), etc.

            “It’s not that I really hate Google; I love Google. I just want people (including myself) to be able to trust them. They want a lot of information, so that requires a lot of trust.”

            You can opt out! If you don’t trust Google and you still want to use their services, you can opt out of their data gathering. How’s that for “Don’t Be Evil”? I’d be satisfied with Google saying, “if you don’t want to be tracked by us, don’t use our stuff; this is a two way street.” But they don’t; they allow you to use their services free and they get virtually nothing in return, if you so choose. How is that bad? How does that reflect on them poorly?

            Your entire issue with Google (and, rightly, it should be with Mozilla, Opera, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Nokia, etc.) is that you don’t know if you can trust them, but then they go and give you an option to not have to trust them but still use their services.

            All in all, I think Google is doing the right thing far more than the others. Who else strives to make a superior product but also strives to make it as open and free to the customer as possible? The way I see it, with Google everyone wins. Don’t like it? Don’t use it; or be a douche and just opt out so you can use the service without actually contributing to the service provider (like those slackers that go to B&N to read books but won’t actually buy them, except Google would allow you to take the books home with ads on them in exchange for indexing what you read via an anonymous customer number and thus making your ads in your free book more relevant to you, but you could opt out and just get random ads instead).

            Honestly, it sounds like your issue is a bunch of “what if” and “this could be bad” type conjecture. Have any evidence? Proof? Anything to back up your misgivings? If not, why are you all up on Google for having a killer business model that benefits them and their customers at the same time?

          • It’s not an issue of do others do it too, it’s an issue of how much others do it and why. Advertising made up 3% of Microsoft’s revenue in Q2 of this year. Apple was less than 5% (I can’t find exact numbers). Meanwhile, advertising made up 97-98% of Google’s revenues. If MS and Apple dropped advertising they wouldn’t notice the difference. That’s not how they made their money. Why do they do it? To subsidize the cost of some services in Microsoft’s case and to make developers money in the case of Apple (and possible MS with Windows Phone). If MS and Apple do a terrible job with ads they won’t see a noticeable difference in their revenues. If Google does a bad job, they’ll see a massive difference. To make sure they do a good job, they need to know as much about you as possible to sell to advertisers. 

            Google wants to know absolutely everything about you while other companies don’t. That’s a big difference. Google uses ads in an extremely different way than Microsoft or Apple. Google sells your personal information (
            http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/key-terms/#toc-terms-personal-info) to other companies to sell you products. Can you opt-out? Yes, but to totally opt out would mean disabling cookies, which means many services will not work as they should (according to Google). Of course you have the option to use products by other companies, but I’d rather have the option to pay for services with money instead of with information. That may not make sense for services like search, but for other services it would make sense. No one has ever tried to collect as much information as Google is. We need to be careful with that. It’s a huge responsibility. When someone chooses to use all of Google’s services, they’re giving Google a massive amount of information. Microsoft and Apple already have their money, which is why they don’t use advertising nearly as much as Google does. Google needs that information to make better ads so that people will click on them. That demands massive levels of trust and security and lately it hasn’t led to better products. 

            If Google’s products were actually better than competitors then you’d have a case to make that their method leads to better products, but I don’t think that’s the case. Google doesn’t push G+ on people because it’s a better product (it’s actually inferior in some ways to Twitter and Facebook) – they push it because it will give them more information to serve ads. Google doesn’t want to get into social networking to make a better social network, they do it to make money by selling our information. That might be a good trade if it led to a better product, but it hasn’t Google Plus still doesn’t have a decent API and it’s nearly impossible to use it with other social networks. The same can be said for Gmail. Gmail is pretty good, but it certainly isn’t the best email solution possible. Android is a mess on tablets. Google TV is laughable. Google isn’t in all of these services to make a better product, they’re in them to gather even more of people’s information so they can show them better ads. If Google can get an inferior product in front of people because the cost is subsidized by ads, they’ll do it. In fact, they’ve done it. At that point, what’s the benefit of selling your information to Google? Maybe you’re not at that point, but some are. And for those of us who are, I think we’d rather give Google our money so that they have much more incentive to make better products. 

          • Droidzilla

            All of these points have been amply covered. Your argument against only Google still is illogical, but you’re now a broken record not bringing anything new to the conversation, so that’s that. You don’t like how Google does business? Fine. Go use another ecosystem that does the exact same thing except you’re cool with it for some inexplicable reason. Google’s products work better for me, and their business model is great for me, so I’ll stick with them. You obviously find their products inferior and their practices questionable, so I don’t really get why you want to continue to do business with them. But, that said, I’m honestly kind of through with trying to get you to make sense.

  • bvgillis

    This [Opinion] seems terribly unrefined and borders uneducated on the topic. Droid-Life should be wary of posting an article like this one. (and I’m not alone in this sentiment- look at the rest of the comments)

    There are no technical facts, no hard sources and no data to back up the opinion of the author. In the scientific and academic world this article would be sent back to the author for clarification or else it would not be accepted as a valid opinion.

  • or you can buy apple products, from the largest and absolutely most greedy company in the USA. pick your poison Ron

  • Sam

    It is horrible that web companies “steal” my information to create targeted ads. I much prefer my ads to be non targeted. I want ads for knitting yarn or SALE ON LAMPS! Not this relevant to my interest stuff.

    I want to be recommended music I will never like or care about. Recommendations shouldn’t be made of the music I already have.

    Come on. This is stupid, Google’s products still do challenge the indstruy, they have to to in order to break through.

    Just ask Google buzz how that info stealing is going.
    Android is a direct challenge to iOS just as g+ is a direct challenge to Facebook. Does Google want the money to be flowing their way? Of course, that’s why they try to make a better product, same as it’s always been.

    There isn’t some magical attitude different when revenue sources are different. If Google offered Gmail for 30 bucks they would have to make it good so you’d buy it. If it is free with ad space all around they have to make it good so you will use it and be exposed to the ads. Where’s the difference.

    If you can’t handle companies” stealing” your precious” “personal information” you probably shouldn’t be on the web. In fact brick and mortar retailers do it to. So good luck to you.

  • jonny6pak

    This editorial seems a little off to me.  Google started out as a means to make a better search engine, but the revenue model always involved advertising.  Or am I wrong on that part?  Google is certainly shifting its focus to social networking, but the revenue model hasn’t shifted at all.  Perhaps the culture of the company and how it encourages innovation within its walls changes, but that doesn’t impact the revenue model itself, just the products it creates to obtain the revenue.  It might be better to say that Google should focus on creating the best consumer product as opposed to generally creating some sort of competitor product that simply sits within a segment space.  Alternatively, that Google will not be able to maintain its high status without focusing on innovation and creating products that win the market.  If it doesn’t create the best product, it can’t maximize revenues.  Potentially, Google could decline if its key skill shifts from making those great products and selling data to just being good at selling data.  While the two go hand in hand at Google, losing the skill to innovate and make the best anything could harm a business’ growth and dominance. 

    Google won the search engine market and thus made a ton in ad revenue because it made the best product–it was highly innovative and it was the better product.  The same can be said of Gmail when it first came about.  I think Google+ has its merits, but it’s no game changer and Facebook has been able to move fast to answer Google’s new product.  Google hasn’t really been able to stay ahead of the game to the point where it would get users to switch.  It’s the same for Google Music.  They created a store and a system that might be able to build advertising revenue, but Google Music didn’t really offer anything that would make a customer want to switch.  Google is using Android to try and build a reliance through ease of use that comes from integration, but that might not necessarily work given the open ecosystem of Android.  Google’s revenue model isn’t broke, but they might need to push a little harder if they want to overcome brand loyalty and build a stronger user base to increase revenue potential.  …and that’s my take on it all.

    • I think we agree. Google needs to succeed in phones, tablets, TVs, movies, music, search, social networks etc. because it puts more ads in front of people. If Google fails in those spaces then they’re be stuck relying on search ads. 

  • i certainly agree that there is a fine line in regards to privacy here. but there’s a difference between putting a fence in your yard to block your neighbors up, versus voluntarily signing up to use a service.

    if anyone feels uncomfortable using something… don’t use it. and if you choose to use it, there’s only one thing to do: be a responsible user.  posting information you don’t want shared or used to create advertisments is simply foolish, or naive at best. and if a user is uncomfortable with the targeted advertising, is it possible that the user ashamed of it? or is it simply a nuissance that’s too much work to simply ignore?

    there’s a privacy policy for a reason, and tells you exactly what info they want and will you when you check the box.  the beauty of this country is the freedom to choose our products. please use that freedom to choose things that are for good.

    adverstisements are good for google. they are good for consumers. if i search for a particular product, i expect to see advertisements that direct me to companies that sell it. not only does it make google money when i click the search ads, but it also takes me directly to the website i need.

    • I think a large part of the problem is that most people really don’t understand how Google pays for these services. They don’t know what a browser is or how email works. For them, Google is the Internet. Not everyone is that naive, but the vast majority of people are. That’s why privacy matters and that’s why it’s important for people to understand how Google services work. It’s great that there are ways to opt out, but most people don’t know what that means. 

  • I’m using Google+ simply because it’s the best. And so is Gmail, YouTube and Android. Not because I don’t like Facebook, Apple or Microsoft. I simply like Google’s product design philosophy.
    As for the personal information: once it’s on the internet, it’s not personal any more. Keep your personal information inside your head, or write it on the piece of paper and lock it in your safe.

  • wow. great job. i like android a lot but in school we read 1984 and i wrote an essay almost exactly like this. we need to be careful of how much information we give to a company. that’s why i don’t use google docs or have a google+.

    • 1984 was mostly about turning information inside out (war is piece, ignorance is strength, etc). That’s Apple’s marketing domain.

  • nerdrow

    I for one feel that I am important enough that a Google employee is reading my Google Voice texts about a YouTube video I watched and the songs I listened to through my Google Music account, after they were done reading my GMail.  I AM that important.  That’s why I put all of my sensitive personal information into free services in the cloud.

    • Billyrouth2000

      True but if the govt. Wants that info what’s to stop google from giving it to them?

      • Droidzilla

        Privacy laws. That scary little issue is something for us to police our government on, not Google.

  • jeff3yan

    Luckily I sold my share of $GOOG for $AAPL a few months earlier. It’s not that I don’t love Google products, but their ability to inspire customers just isn’t as good.

    • jonny6pak

       That’s my take on it.  Google isn’t really making anything that overcomes brand loyalty or a competitors ability to keep up.  It’s hard to say a company needs to make more game-changers, but that’s the only way I see Google being able to continue being a dominant force.  I use a lot of Google products, but they just don’t seem to crank out the innovation like they used to.

  • Michael_NM

    My personal data is very unlikey to stand out to Google among the hundreds of millions of others. Until they can replicate my DNA, I’m not too worried. However, just like any company, cash is very attractive, and its pursuit can easily blur the company’s original vision. Regardless, this is a thought-provoking article. I doubt I’ll be waitng in at an apple store any time soon though.

  • thislandisyourland

    I would much rather buy products and services from companies with my money, not my personal information. I don’t want to sell myself to Google or Facebook”

    Then don’t use Google or Facebook.  For those of us who don’t necessarily have any naive expectations of privacy when it comes to free things, we’ll happily bring Google’s incredibly integrated ecosystem into our lives, and benefit from it.    Would you rather pay for your search engine, Ron? Is that really what you want?  That’s simply unsustainable! Google would die if they took your advice, it’s as simple as that.  

    • I never said that Google should only offer paid search. I don’t think that would work either. I do think they should offer more of their services free of ads, however. You and I understand how Google works and how they use our data, but most people don’t. That’s part of the problem. 

  • GCurry

    I used to run corporate planning for a fair sized NASDAQ firm (but much smaller than GOOG).  In principle, there were 3 classes of “stakeholders” – investors, customers, employees.  But the truth is that the investor dominates.  A public company’s job is to grow investor capital.   If it’s not doing that, it’s not filling its fiduciary duties, and can be sued.   Board of directors represent investors.   From that point on, it’s all about increasing stock price, since that is how investor capital is grown in public companies these days.   Stock price is heavily affected by P/E, which correlates well with the growth rate of revenue and profits.   So public companies MUST be single minded about growth.

    Having said that, it is naive to think that you can run a large company especially to “help” people, or “build a better product” or “make the world a better place”.   You can start that way, but eventually the realities of competition, market share/saturation, legislative limits, foreign markets will limit growth.   And then a public corporation will start to remove those barriers to growth if it can, and it will begin to lie, cheat, act sociopathically, and even “do evil”.   It’s a slippery slope, more like a slip-n-slide.   Once you’re on, there’s no stopping till you’re at the bottom.

    I like Google, compared to other public companies.   But I have no illusions about what it is.   It’s like the fable of the scorpion and the frog.   The scorpion can promise to “do no evil” but in the end, it’s in his nature.

  • Daniel Rosseau

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think Google actually sells our information.  I thought they basically tell companies that if you pay us for advertisements, we will make sure to put it in front of people that will want to see it.  I don’t think they go to a bank and say do you want the contact information for all people looking up mortgages? Pay us and we’ll give that to you.  I personally would much rather see targeted ads then something I won’t even look at if I’m going to see ads.

  • Guest

    adblock on chrome, and ad block on Android with Root.  

  • Mark Lewis

    This just in: companies try to stay in business by making money.  Story at 11.

    • eagletrippin


  • ok that’s one way to look at it. Personally I like to be optimistic and try to see with eyes unclouded. But then the world has trouble doing that. Hence why bigotry and racism still exists, which is ironicly funny because the bigotry and racism are about creatures of the SAME RACE!

  • 我是郑凯彬,一起交流下,可以来我博客看看。

  • Our personal information is forever lost, not just by google but by every service just about. Therefor, I’ll keep my money and choose free over paid.

    Google makes good if not great free products/services. Apple makes good, closed, way over-priced products/services. I like the way Google chooses to do business, maybe that’s just me

    • geedee82

      +1 Great comment.

    •  personal information is so 1990’s.  there is no such thing as personal information anymore.  i was tied to GOOG well before android showed up, so it made sense to go full-on with el goog and never look back. 

      In Google we trust.

  • I’d trust Google with my personal information before I would trust Facebook with anything.

    • Liderc

      And yet Google has been stealing our information for much much longer… And before we even realized it.

      • Mark Lewis

        The difference is that facebook actively exposes your information with their advertisers.  Google is very secretive about how Adsense works, and your personal information is never shared with third parties.

        • Liderc

          And we know this how… because Google says so? =x

          • Mark Lewis

            Yes.  Facebook is honest about what they do too.  They’re required to be, by law.

          • Billyrouth2000

            And you think these money hungry corporations care if its the law?

          • Jack Coleman


          • CORYK333

            Aw, how cute!!!

          • How about because pretty much anybody can create ads? You can go right now and make a few ads and see for yourself that no personal information is ever given to you.

            You tell Google who to show ads to, they do it. They never tell you anything about the visitors. Anything the visitors choose to share when they visit your website is entirely up to them.

          • Liderc

            The adsense program collects information based on your viewing history and the ads you see.  They then use this information to send ads that are relevant to your interests.  The same thing facebook does. Lets not act like they’re doing anything different. 

          • I didn’t say they were. When people complain about Facebook’s lack of privacy ethics, it’s typically regarding things like them sharing your private messages word for word to other companies so they can do “studies”. Yes, they actually did that.

          • Liderc

            I follow this stuff pretty closely, if you could link an article showing some solid proof of this I’d like to see it.  Concerning the chat logs ect…

          • You clearly don’t follow it closely enough…


          • Liderc

            That website doesn’t look bias at all…

          • And this website doesn’t look biased at all either?

          • Liderc

            No I’m just pointing out that a bias article is not good evidence.  The point I’ve been trying to make to you is that BOTH companies are guilty of breaking privacy laws.  Google started it, Facebook just perfected it. 

          • That storywas covered by hundreds to thousands of blogs. Takeyour pick.

            Neither companyis breaking privacy laws,and quitepossibly your allegations are illegal.

            Also,you shouldn’t writecomments so condescending. I understand the points your trying to make, they’re simply wrong.

            You dismiss things you don’tagree with and stickwith the things you do; talk about irony.

          • Liderc

            I’ll make sure to wear my tinfoil hat from now on, thanks for the advice. 

          • Nugiene

            Why is it, when someone voices they’re concern of privacy or systematic control the”tinfoil hat” indult is thrown about? Your discussion was very legitimate until you became childish. Plato’s cave allegory comes to mind.you also come across as a shill.

          • Al Heasley

            can     i     get    this     any   smaller!

          • Wyveryx

            The end is nigh! Repent sinners!

          • TrevorSP

            What   happens   if   we   just   keep   replying?   will   it   just   go   off   the   page?

          • Wyveryx














          • TrevorSP

            I   know!   I   feel   like   this   should   be   fixed.   I’ve   never   seen   anybody   reply   to   each   other   this   much   before   lol

          • Wyveryx








          • TrevorSP
        • Noyfb

          Also in Facebook, any thing you post on facebook becomes the intellectual property of facebook. What you say, or how you say it, the pictures and videos you upload, etc, are then owned by facebook once you post it. I read a story how a women buy frames at a store saw her family in the pictures but never submitted any pictures or signed a waiver to do so and found out it was pics she had on facebook and could do nothing about it, she never saw a nickel for it either. 
          Even if you close your facebook account, they keep and store all the data you have put on your facebook page too.

      • Though you can pull all of your information out of Google quite simply where as you can barely change who can see your information on Facebook without keeping up with their endless security changes and resets to your default settings. 

        • Liderc

          But you’re forgetting that because every website uses Adsense, they’re always taking your information and viewing habits, which is what makes them the most money. 

      • NiceGuy

         Stealing or gathering willfully given out information?

  • Asd

    So their motivation changed from we want to make good products to make good products, to we want to make good products so we can make more money. 

    Isn’t that what capitalism is all about? I don’t see that as a bad thing. Targeted ads? Who cares, I made a google search on X, and now I see an ad for it. 

    Why is it such a big deal?

  • Scottholstein Sh

    I love Google. I don’t doubt the article. The author is much more informed than I am, but I love Google. In fact, I think it would be great to work there. I am willing to relocate to Mountain View.

    • Ryan C

      This has been my dream for years!

  • Why does it matter? Judge Google’s products based on the quality of their products.

    Is Microsoft a cut-throat company? Yes. Do I love Windows? Yes.

    Business are out to make profit; their execs are legally obligated to do their best in this regard. Droid Life authors: Is that advertisements I see on your site? Why yes, yes it is! You guys are motivated by profit, the bottom line. Without that money and other revenue sources, you’d not be writing this blog.

    If you judge a product by the company that makes it, you’ll always either be extremely let down or extremely impressed, mainly due to bias and not the actual product.

    • bvgillis

      You nailed it brother.

      I am curious how the Droid-life editors expect Google to make money- if not in advertising.

      Google is not a hardware manufacturer, or a software vendor (they don’t sell it); they don’t make TV’s, laptops, cell phones or anything else for that matter. To the point- Android is not a cell phone and Google TV is not a Television (it’s a Sony box with Google Software).

      Google does not make “products” in the sense which DL is referring to them. Google is an ADVERTISING company- they innovate and provide resources to make better ADVERTISING.

      They aren’t stealing your information and selling it to the highest bidder- they are collecting information from their consumers to create a better…. wait for it….. advertising product. What they do is no different than Sears collecting information about what their customers buy and providing more of that item- or Samsung collecting information about which display hardware consumers buy the most and manufacturing more of it.

      This article is poorly written and a terrible misrepresentation of what Google is and who they strive to be. They are and always will be an Advertising company.

      • Taglogical

        Google is preying on naive people. Google as a ‘people’s company’ has done a complete 180 imo.

      • Some companies make money by selling products. That would be an alternative. I said throughout the article that Google is an advertising company – the question is if that’s the only way they can make money. I don’t think it is. 

        • Droidzilla

          Again, who cares if that’s their only revenue stream? You want to pay for search, you go right ahead; I’ll continue to use the system that works for both Google and me.

      • Billteud

        I am curious how the Droid-life editors expect Google to make money- if not in advertising.

        Google makes $10.5 billion a year from advertising. Google has 425 million Gmail customers. If each Gmail customer paid $2 per month, Google would make the same amount of money, without advertising or any of the evil it brings with it.

    • There are other ways to make money besides advertisements (like subscriptions or donations), but they’re harder to pursue. I don’t have a problem with companies trying to make money, but most people don’t know how Google makes money and they certainly don’t know how Google is using their information. 

      • You are incredibly naive if you think donations will rival the profit of advertising or even be remotely capable of sustaining a company the size and complexity of Google. Feel free to start a subscription search engine if you think people actually care. Trust me when I emphatically tell you this: They don’t. (But prove me wrong!)

        I understand very well how Google uses my information. I’m a publisher, I know how AdSense. I’m an advertiser, I know very, very well how AdWords works. I’m a web developer, I know how Analytics works. I’ve done thousands of A/B tests for SEO in the past, I know how account web history and very subtle website modifications affect ranking on personalized accounts.

        Even if the bulk of Google’s users don’t understand any of the technical aspects of how Google works, the basics are dead simple: Google’s core technology is semantics. When you search for or access websites with content about something, Google adds that as an interest for your account. Using their semantics technology, they can find relevant ads (just like they find relevant websites) based on your past interests and the context of your activity (search terms or semantics of a webpage).

        You can see interests Google thinks you have and even modify them here:

        If users can’t understand that, users should ad the very least realize Google is an ad-powered company. Customers understand how ads themselves make money; we see them daily on TV, in magazines, on many websites, in many great apps (Angry Birds), etc. We know ads and sponsors have the power to save or kill TV shows; anyone in the US with a TV will tell you how TV ratings work.

        So saying users don’t know how Google makes money, imo, is just a little silly.

        • I never said that Google could or should provide search with a subscription model, but that may work for other products. Other companies seem to do just fine by selling their products to people. 

          You and I understand how Google makes their money, but most people don’t. You might think it’s silly to think that people don’t understand it, but I talk to people every day who don’t understand what a browser is or that Google and the Internet are different things. Most people simply don’t know and don’t want to know. 

          I’m not saying that Google is evil for using ads, but I am saying that there are better ways to make money. 

          • I don’t think most people are as stupid in this regard as you’d assume.

            Advertising and sponsorship is something very, very deeply embedded into American culture. In high school yearbooks and organizations, sponsors make or break the yearbook / org. Sponsors/ads make a very big deal in the TV, radio, and magazine industries, and I’d be willing to bet most people know how these things work.

            At least, I’ve never gotten the impression from people, even very non-tech savvy people, that they don’t understand how Google or other ad-based services work.

            I say this as a resident of Alabama, ranked the #6th stupidest state sorted by IQ tests performed in 2006. I’ve seen my fair share of stupid people, and they all know how advertising works.

          • Larry

            I think the problem with Google is not the way they use information to sell ads.  It’s what they do with the information that they don’t tell you they are doing.  Adsense is a very public and very well known entity.  However, we have seen that Google gathers more information and not always by means that are disclosed.  Take the Streetview camera cars gathering WiFi SSID info, for example.  The company claims that was an individual acting alone, but you would have to be extraordinarily naive to believe that PR spin.  They got found out, and they did damage control. 

            The problem lies with all the areas where people HAVEN’T figured out what they are doing yet.  By the time anyone does, if anyone does, what will be the price to privacy?  Is convenience enough of a benefit that we are willing to sacrifice all privacy, or to de facto let Google control the dissemination of that info?  I don’t think so.

          • You do realize that them collecting wifi SSID information a) holds none of your personal information (your SSID is visible to anyone who lives near you; it’s not secret) and b) makes GPS for smartphones more accurate, and many smartphone users opt-in to make their GPS more accurate by reporting this to Google from their phones.

            If you have an Android phone with syncing enabled, of course you know Google is collecting this information. If you get a new device, it automatically connects to your wifi for you. Again, this is a feature.

            I think you’re just incredibly paranoid. You over-value what your “privacy” is. Wifi SSID is NOT private information; nor are pictures of your house from the street. I could drive down your street and see exactly as much.

            If you don’t trust Google, don’t use their services. But don’t make bogus complaints about things you clearly don’t understand.

  • brando56894

    If they continue this way I’m sure it is going to turn people away. The thing is that tons of other companies have been doing the same thing for years, people just didn’t know about it. When Google’s practices are being brought to light, yea it is kind of scary that they filed a patent to analyze you phone calls so they could better serve you ads. But the thing is people bitch and complain about Google taking their personal information but they forget they’re the ones putting the information out there and they aren’t paying a penny for it. I, for one, love Google’s products and don’t mind sharing most of my information with them as long as it’s put to good use, such as providing me with better search results.

    • Tyrian

      Precisely. Your Food Lion MVP and Kroger Plus card have been collecting information on your purchasing habits for years now. Companies have been collecting and mining data on people for decades. Knowledge is power. And good has found efficient and innovative ways to do that.

  • Michael Forte

    How is Google+ “being shoved down users’ throats”? If you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to.

    • brando56894

      It’s being integrated into many of Google’s products. 

      • That still doesn’t mean you have to use Google+. Being integrated doesn’t even require that you make a Google+ account. You do that all on your own.

        • tyguy829

          Actually, Google Plus is not a separate account.  If you have a gmail, you automatically have a Google Plus

          • ocdtrekkie

            No, you have to sign up for Google+ separately if you already had Gmail. If you get a new Gmail, it gives you Google+, but you can press one button to delete it.

          • Billyrouth2000

            No you don’t have to sign up for google plus your current user name and password get you logged right in

          • 2 words buddy: You’re wrong.

            As stated before:

            For old accounts, a Google+ account requires manual creation.

            For new accounts, a Google+ account requires manual deletion.

            In either case, a Google+ account is not required. You do not need to have one, and logging in does NOT force you to re-create one.

      • mjmedstarved

        Just like you can’t have a YouTube account without a Gmail account….

        • shnickburton

          Your wrong Colonel Sanders, I have an account tied to non-gmail email.

          • mjmedstarved

            Really???? I must have missed that.. not sure how.

            ..and it is you’re*.

          • pico

            really? “you are youtube”? dosent sound right 

          • mjmedstarved

            JK…. I’m high and working from home.

            ignore me please.

          • GUEST

            actually he had it right “you’re is a contraction for “you are” so he would be saying “but if you sign into you are youtube” that doesn’t sound right at all….

          • will bartlett

            look at who he was replying to lame brain

          • geedee82

            I’m pretty sure he was talkin to the dude that said “Your wrong Colonel Sanders”, which should be “You’re”

          • Ryan C

            but if you sign into your youtube, then go to gmail you will have an account already.

  • Very interesting read.

  • First