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Google's Real Name Policy, Why You Are the Product

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the go-price-yourself dept.

The Internet 374

bs0d3 writes "Google tells their investors: 'Who are our customers? Our customers are over one million advertisers, from small businesses targeting local customers to many of the world's largest global enterprises, who use Google AdWords to reach millions of users around the world.' Site users don't seem to understand. It's not that it's free. It's that you are the product being sold. ThomasMonopoly points out, 'I'm unaware of any company that feels responsible to their product. And if I'm to understand that they're responsible to their customers, the advertisers, I don't want "the world's largest global enterprises" dictating my identity or choosing who in Syria is granted a voice on the world stage.'"

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Nothing new (5, Informative)

Mensa Babe (675349) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308134)

Is this really new to anyone who hasn't lived in the cage for the last 80 years? This business model is a de facto standard since Phil Taylor Farnsworth invented the tele. Nothing to be upset about. You don't have to use Google if you don't want to. Besides, I'd rather be a product of a company that does no evil than a client of some other companies [slashdot.org] that do.

Re:Nothing new (2)

lm2s (2432822) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308152)

Actually, from my (maybe small) experience, there are a lot of people who are still to realize this.

Here's What's New (4, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308308)

What's new is that Google has found success (initially, at least; people seem to be wising up lately) among the self-proclaimed and self-absorbed digerati crowd that heretofore viewed themselves somehow above the Marketing that always suckered in the mere mortal consumers beneath them. The smug, sniffy, MS-hating, open source espousing, latte-drinking, Starbucks-frequenting hipsters with fifty-dollar haircuts all fell for the warm gooey spin that using Google products made them better people -- which would have been hilarious just-desserts if it hadn't had the unfortunate side-effect of increasing their market share so much.

Re:Here's What's New (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308386)

The smug, sniffy, MS-hating, open source espousing, latte-drinking, Starbucks-frequenting hipsters with fifty-dollar haircuts all fell for the warm gooey spin that using Google products made them better people -- which would have been hilarious just-desserts if it hadn't had the unfortunate side-effect of increasing their market share so much.

I'm just glad people are finally starting to wise up. Hopefully the momentary bubble in marketshare will soon be gone and we can go back to paying Microsoft and using closed source software, where we know we're the customer and not the product.

Re:Here's What's New (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308444)

Wow. Very well said. PLEASE MOD PARENT UP.

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted! Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

Re:Here's What's New (4, Insightful)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308476)

OSS doesn't have anything to do with marketing though. That's just how Google does things.

OSS usually earns money through support and custom solutions.

Re:Here's What's New (1, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308652)

hahaha, of course Microsoft's customer is The Corporation, they don't give a flying fuck about the rights of individuals. That's why your windows desktop is a combination billboard, snooper and pinball machine for marketers.

Re:Here's What's New (2)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308676)

"That's why your windows desktop is a combination billboard, snooper and pinball machine for marketers."

Wow. Bullshit, just bullshit.

Re:Nothing new (4, Insightful)

n5vb (587569) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308212)

The fact that Google is providing a free service has nothing to do with the fact that it's demanding control over how people identify themselves.

No, you don't have to use G+ if you don't want to. But if they want to be the only channel you can use, then they have to accept that they are at least a de facto common carrier by doing so, whether or not they're considered one in a de jure sense, and by acting like a common carrier, they have certain responsibilities to the people who use G+ to communicate .. and that includes allowing people to identify themselves using their chosen expressions of identity.

No, the law almost certainly doesn't say that -- because the law doesn't yet address situations like this as far as I know -- but it's consistent with how humans understand communication. And the trend in civil liberties is to place fewer restrictions on expressions of identity, not greater ones. One hopes the law catches up to this understanding soon, but that's the reality. We have the right to determine how people know us, and we have the right not to have that dictated to us based on an arbitrary legal distinction..

Re:Nothing new (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308268)

Yeah, this analysis goes back to analysis of TV, and is around 40 years old at least. A 1973 broadcast by artist Richard Serra [wikipedia.org] , entitled "Television Delivers People" [youtube.com] is one early use of the concept:

The product of television, commercial television, is the audience.

Television delivers people to an advertiser.

[...]

You are the product of T.V.

You are delivered to the advertiser who is the customer.

He consumes you.

The viewer is not responsible for programming--

You are the end product.

(For those interested, he discusses the concept and the reaction it got when it was actually broadcast on TV in this book [amazon.com] .)

Re:Nothing new (5, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308296)

My thoughts, exactly. If you listen to radio, you are not the customer -- you're the product. If you watch television, you are not the customer -- you are the product. If you read most magazines (even if you pay for them), you are not a customer -- you're the product. When it comes to media of all kinds, you are the product far more often than you are the client.

That doesn't mean that privacy shouldn't still be valued, even in free services. It should be. But people need to approach it from the mindset that they are trading something valuable (their eyeballs and their personal data) in exchange. It'd be great if there was an alternative to all of these things, for those who would rather pay a few bucks than give up their "soul", so to speak. Unfortunately, the masses do not want to pay for anything, anywhere and catering to the niche who does is usually not so profitable, as a result.

As for their naming policy? It's entirely within their right to determine how they intend to curate the culture of their service and if it means there will be less fake names posting ridiculous crap on the service than are doing so on competing services and it will somehow elevate the general level of discourse compared to the competing services, then have at it. (This is not to endorse required identification for using the internet - only for using a particular service that is offered on a website to people on the internet.)

Of course, as far as a company doing no evil . . . I'm not aware of such a thing.

Re:Nothing new (5, Informative)

webmistressrachel (903577) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308366)

John Logie Baird was the first to implement television, stop re-writing history you goddamn Yanks!

Rather than add mod points.. (5, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308440)

Rachel, I would like to give you a mod point, but I'd like to make a philosophical point if I may, and I can't do both.

Philo T Farnsworth invented US television, which is that commercial stuff in which the viewers are the sweetcorn, the advertisers are the buyers, and the TV company is the farmer. John Logie Baird invented British television in which the taxpayer is the customer, pays directly for the product, and elects politicians to keep an eye on things. That's quite different, as well as being a whole lot better.

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308510)

And with the traditional BBC how are the watchers the product - there is no advertiser to deliver them to

Re:Nothing new (2)

AJZ (588720) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308426)

Ditto to what Trepidity and Seumas said. But I have questions. The article has a quote: "If you’re not paying for it, then you’re the product being sold." So: I just installed OpenBSD on some hardware I had lying around. You see where this is going.

I didn't buy the CD set (yet). It's about an 80% chance that I will now, and 99% if I turn the box into a packet filter as planned.

Questions:
(1) In what way am I the product being sold (by OpenBSD)?
(2) If I'm not "the product", then how can I tell? I'm dissatisfied with any answer that says it's obvious on its face: "I just know in my gut that Google has the capacity for evil, yet OpenBSD is good."
(3) If I am "the product", then by what mechanism am I suddenly relieved of that status when I buy the CD sets?

I'm not trying to argue that OpenBSD is good therefore Google is good, nor that Google is bad therefore OpenBSD is bad. I genuinely can't reconcile my experience with the quote, so I think the quote is an overgeneralization. Both Google and OpenBSD may or may not be selling me as a product, the fact that they're free tells me very little, and I have to research them myself.

Re:Nothing new (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308490)

You're right, the statement is too simple. Free is not so important. If they make money because you use it, and that money does not come from you, then you are the product.

Re:Nothing new (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308688)

An accurate statement would be "In most forms of media and entertainment, you are the product; not the client". Free isn't necessarily the relevant factor, here. You pay for cable television, yet you are given ads. The customers are the advertisers and you are the product. The network only needs to produce programs good enough and cheap enough to get your eyeballs, to in turn sell as a package deal to the advertisers.

A fur trapper is the radio station, television network, newspaper publication, magazine publication or what have you. The advertiser is the customer that wants to buy a pelt. The content is the bait in the trap to lure the furry animal. You are the furry animal.

Re:Nothing new - but corrupt all the same (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308454)

The fact that something happens and is known, by those who make the effort to think about it, to happen does not make it reasonable, fair or acceptable.

The fact that there are other companies which do even worse things doesn't make it good either. Nor does it matter that the evil company has a slogan which implies that it will do no evil, if they still do evil.

Comments like this, "You don't have to use Google if you don't want to." are breathtakingly dumb (surely you're just trolling? mensababe?). When use of a service makes it so much easier to carry out business than the old way, people will tend to migrate to it. If use of all the rival services incur much the same penalty in the form of your data being packaged and sold, then the people do not have a choice. They are forced to use the service - or live in a cave.

Why not set up a rival business providing the same service but without the nefarious bits? Because nobody would finance it because the profits would be so much smaller when the rival companies are able to collect and package the highly profitable user data. For it to become viable the collection of user data has to be restricted by law.

That is where governments should step in and mandate that the collection of user data be separated from payment for the service. If a user signs up the company should not be able to tie that contract in to an agreement to give up personal data too.

Governments don't step in because they are in the pockets of big business. They too want to drive up revenue because each transaction means more money for the government and more funding for grandiose schemes.

Re:Nothing new - but corrupt all the same (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308544)

> When use of a service makes it so much easier to carry out business than the old way, people will tend to migrate to it. If use of all the rival services incur much the same penalty in the form of your data being packaged and sold, then the people do not have a choice.

This is just so freaking stupid that I couldn't help but to joint this discussion: "all the rival services incur much the same penalty in the form of your data being packaged and sold" is simple NOT TRUE. You can BUY a service for few bucks a month that will give you email and everything you need. If you want to "carry out business" no matter what business it is then surely you can afford Slicehost or Linode server for $20 a month and now YOU control all of your data. No one will "package and sell" it. Problem solved. Please stop spreading such a bullshit.

Spare us your stupidity.. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308484)

You don't have to use Google if you don't want to.

Yeah and you can email your resume in .tex format for jobs too because you hate Microsoft and Adobe. If the only way you can successfully advertise your product online is through advertising companies like Google, then you have little "choice". I suppose a child like you has to learn about lock-in caused by network effects. Don't worry you can leave the thinking to others if it hurts your brain.

Re:Nothing new (1)

sphealey (2855) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308520)

> You don't have to use Google if you don't want to.

That's really not true. It is becoming essentially impossible to get a job, deal with a hospital, open a utility account, enroll in a school, etc etc etc without having a solid accessible e-mail address and using a variety of web services. You might be able to escape one of the big providers (e.g. Google) but you essentially cannot function in a modern society and escape them all.

sPh

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308608)

I wouldn't advertise your "superiour[sic] intellect" with your atrocious english grammar. Any monkey can get positive karma, and a truly superior intellect would have no issues with idioms, grammar and spelling.

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308704)

I'd rather be a product of a company that does no evil

Riiight...
Me too. But which company would I choose then?
Because that would definitely not be Google.

P.S.: Protip: What someone states he is, does not have to have any relationship to what he actually does. Usually it's what someone wants to be. Which means it's what he isn't (yet). Or what someone wants you to think he is. Which mean he definitely isn't. And regarding Google's (non-/)evilness: Have you even looked at the news in the last couple of years?

Marketing 123 (5, Insightful)

ge7 (2194648) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308138)

It shows that the "omg free stuff" marketing works to people. People also go crazy about coupons and all kinds of "give us permission to spa.. mail you and get these cool things" offers and everything else. Even many slashdotters go to great lengths to defense Google just because their stuff is free (and you don't need to use it if you don't want to!!). At the same time they're ranting how government and companies are violating their privacy, when they're themselves whoring it out.

Re:Marketing 123 (1)

lm2s (2432822) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308164)

Even many slashdotters go to great lengths to defense Google just because their stuff is free (and you don't need to use it if you don't want to!!). At the same time they're ranting how government and companies are violating their privacy, when they're themselves whoring it out.

Exactly.

Re:Marketing 123 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308714)

Even many slashdotters go to great lengths to defense Google just because their stuff is free (and you don't need to use it if you don't want to!!). At the same time they're ranting how government and companies are violating their privacy, when they're themselves whoring it out.

Exactly.

Posting anonymously as I'm moderating on this thread.

That's the thing ge7, they're not whoring themselves out -- they're giving it away for a pittance. OOH! I get to use G+ and Google Apps and god knows what else. I'm getting a good deal. Not!

If anyone wants to sell my eyeballs, they need to come across with cold, hard cash. Even if they do, I'm probably not selling anyway. These guys are banking *huge* profits on the backs of their "product." Google exists for one reason. To bird dog you for the advertisers and turn you out like a two-bit whore. If that's how people want to roll, go for it. But don't pretend it's anything other than what it is.

Google isn't your friend. Google isn't looking out for you. Google can be evil when it suits them to do so (when it affects the bottom line). Deal with it.

Re:Marketing 123 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308168)

This might be Marketing 123 but...

I don't want my true personal details sold, sold and sold again to all and sundry.
If I want to buy something I will do the research and make up my own mind.
The drivel spouted by advertisers is why I don't watch commercial TV live but via my PVR and skip over the ads.

Can I get virgin to stop sending adverts to my home addressed ' To the occupier'? can I heck. Actually, the more they send the stuff the more unliekly that I will ever even consider buying anything from Virgin.

Call that marketing 456 if you like.

Yours
  Grumpy old sod.

Re:Marketing 123 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308312)

Any crapmail I receive is put straight back into the nearest postbox with "return to sender" written on it (actually I made up a stamp just for this purpose)

.

Re:Marketing 123 (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308644)

I doubt that it really gets returned to sender though (since it is not first or second class mail). What is more fun (but more time consuming) is to take any two pieces of junk mail, open them both and place the adverts from one (and even folded outer envelope) into the "business reply mail" inserts of the other and then send them back. The only thing you remove is anything personally identifiable - names, addresses, bar codes and the like. So, for example, Capital One gets the adverts from some mortgage company and some mortgage company gets the adverts from Capital One. Imagine what would happen if we could get just 30% of people receiving junk mail to do that! (On the very rare day that we get just one piece of junk mail with a business reply envelope they just get back things from the trash like a Kleenex or possibly a piece of "postcard style" junk mail if it has a label that can be peeled off.)

This is much more satisfying because you know they actually DO receive this and must pay the (admittedly low) rate for the business reply mail. Also it will be kicked out by their automated processing equipment and need to be viewed by a human.

Re:Marketing 123 (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308666)

what, you don't put in a half-pound piece of scrap too? you're doing it half-assed.

Re:Marketing 123 (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308328)

It's not just because Google's stuff is free, so much as that it's free and works well.

I wouldn't use Windows on a home computer even if it was free. I do have a Hotmail account, but it's no longer my primary address.

Re:Marketing 123 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308352)

There is no contradiction in not wanting companies or the government to trample on your privacy, and being willing to trade your privacy in exchange for services.

I'm quite happy to let Gmail snuffle through my personal email like a truffle pig, in exchange for getting a great webmail service. I knew what I was getting into, and what the price was, and made a reasoned judgement as to the value of the service and the cost to my privacy.

I would be hopping mad if my (paid for) business webmail provider suddenly decided to do some rifling through my email for their own purposes, as that is not what I agreed to.

If privacy has a value, then it is a tradable commodity; someone trying to steal it != someone trying to buy it.

Re:Marketing 123 (1)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308464)

Opinions about Google are starting to change.

On my part, I was never particularly crazy about them. I use the search engine, have an unused gmail account and that's about it. Right now I'm seriously starting to ponder how to avoid them as much as possible.

Unfortunately they have the one more or less decent phone OS left, so now I'm pondering if it's possible to get an Android phone devoid of anything Google related.

Re:Marketing 123 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308660)

Even many slashdotters go to great lengths to defense Google just because their stuff is free

It's more about the way they collect famous tech people, Google lectures, their academic outreach, some of their previous political stances and other community efforts than about the free stuff. It's about the image which is relatively compatible with Western liberal democratic values. As Google wants to go global it will have and has a problem with this image. Will it begin to do evil which is good in countries which don't follow the values that gave birth to Google in order to do no evil while doing evil, or will it not? It's complicated.

Re:Marketing 123 (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308692)

Heck complaining about government violating privacy is to be expected! The true hypocrisy (or sheephood) comes when they call out Facebook for privacy violations while defending Google at every corner.

I'm currently really pissed at FB... (5, Interesting)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308158)

as they've disabled my account until I can prove who I am... ridiculous as all details on the account are correct and I'm not using a pseudonym or weird punctuation or daft middle name either for it...

So don't think it can't happen to you, as it has to me and I was following their rules

Re:I'm currently really pissed at FB... (2)

ge7 (2194648) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308170)

At least Facebook only requires you to provide valid verified phone number or credit card. If someone reports you for fake name on Google they ask you to send them scan of your passport or ID card. Via internet. Anyone can guess which is just so much more insecure.

Re:I'm currently really pissed at FB... (4, Informative)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308194)

FB require a scan of real ID now [facebook.com] ... I'm currently going through the process

Disabled account appeal-ID request

In order to reactivate your account we will first need to verify the authenticity of your account. Please fill out the following form and we will re-evaluate your account status.

Your email address:

The email address where you can be reached. If you are able to access your login email address, enter that here.

Full name:

on the account

Date of birth:

Your login email address:

Please upload a government-issued ID to this report and make sure that your full name, date of birth and photo are clear. You should also black out any personal information that is not needed to verify your identity (e.g. social security number).

If you do not have access to a scanner, a digital image of your photo ID will be accepted as well. Rest assured that we will permanently delete your ID from our servers once we have used it to verify the authenticity of your account.

ID attachment:

Select a file from your computer to upload your identification. (Supported formats: .jpg, .jpeg, .tiff, .pdf or .doc)

Note that writing in and submitting your ID multiple times will not result in a faster response. Once you submit your initial request, it is placed in a queue and responded to accordingly. We appreciate your patience and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Totally illegal in Canada (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308392)

The export of Canadian personal information outside the country is governed by PIPEDA. Google simply doesn't have the right to demand any personal info be sent to their servers outside the country's borders. This is effectively the same legislation that Germany later copied.

Also, government-issued ID is not to be used as "identification." The social insurance card numbers are ONLY to be given to employers and government agencies, and, at your option, to your bank (unless you have an interest-bearing account) - and it doesn't have a photo. The universal medicare card, which has a photo, is also not to be used anywhere except when dealing with medical services such as hospitals and pharmacies.

That leaves your drivers license - IF you have a drivers license. And even that is classified as "personal identifying information".

Re:Totally illegal in Canada (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308542)

The export of Canadian personal information outside the country is governed by PIPEDA. Google simply doesn't have the right to demand any personal info be sent to their servers outside the country's borders. This is effectively the same legislation that Germany later copied.

True, but Google is under no obligation to provide services to people who don't provide the requested information.

While I don'y like Google's policy, I also don't like any government dictating to a company they must provide services - if Google doesn't like CDN's rules they can leave.

I'd be very surprised if there wasn't a caveat in the law allowing voluntarily providing the information.

Re:I'm currently really pissed at FB... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308512)

"FB require a scan of real ID now [facebook.com]... I'm currently going through the process ..."

So soon the role world will know both who you really are and what an idiot you are.

Congratulations, and by the way how does Zuckerberg's shit taste ?

Re:I'm currently really pissed at FB... (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308540)

Actually, it is now forbidden to make a scan of the new German identity card (with very narrow exceptions). [wikipedia.org] [German Wikipedia link; the English Wikipedia entry doesn't seem to contain that information]

In other words, if you already have the new identity card and provide a scan to Facebook, you break the law.

Re:I'm currently really pissed at FB... (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308206)

weird...with me I just needed to provide a credit card.

Re:I'm currently really pissed at FB... (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308468)

That's interesting because copying your passport is illegal in the UK. Same is true for your drivers license.

Re:I'm currently really pissed at FB... (2)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308618)

That's interesting because copying your passport is illegal in the UK. Same is true for your drivers license
I suspect that in this case, "copy" is not the same as "image." Certainly in the USA, it's illegal to make a copy (counterfeit item passing as real) of yr license, but quite legal to send a scanned image (not even close to pretending to be real).

Re:I'm currently really pissed at FB... (0)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308172)

What fucking wanker modded me down as it's directly relevant to the topic in question...

Re:I'm currently really pissed at FB... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308356)

Maybe someone can explain to me this still on-going fascination with "social networking" sites? Maybe I out grew it when I lived through the explosion of mIRC and ICQ.

Re:I'm currently really pissed at FB... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308396)

Maybe someone can explain the fascination with "the car" to me? Maybe I just grew out of it when i lived through the explosion of the railway.

disclaimer: I'm an avid user of IRC and have no accounts on any social networking sites.

I'm currently going to mod you down.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308522)

till you can prove that it actually happened for no fault of yours. A random retard like you has zero credibility.

Responsibility (5, Insightful)

brusk (135896) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308176)

I'm unaware of any company that feels responsible to their product.

That's rather unimaginative. Lots of companies (or rather the people who run them) do show some responsibility toward their product. The first example that comes to mind is animal breeders: the good ones care about the animals they raise and have ethical standards in how they treat them, even when they are going to be sold as food (all the more so when they are going to become pets). Many artists certainly feel responsible toward their product, even when they sell it.

To what extent is this true of Google? Time will tell, but it's unproductive to say that because they are in this to make money it's impossible for them to be responsible. The real question is what combination of public visibility/pressure, economic incentives, and regulation will lead to optimal outcomes.

Re:Responsibility (2)

Brucelet (1857158) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308274)

I hope fore our sake that the better analogy here is dog breeders and not beef farmers.

Re:Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308578)

Are you saying Google+ is for sexting and meeting bitches?

Re:Responsibility (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308298)

The closer the "boss" of a company is to the product, the more he cares about the quality. Hence I prefer to buy at small shops to huge corporations. Not only is my 200 bucks purchase important to the small shop while it's at best peanuts to the corporation that writes its balance in thousands of USD because else the numbers get too big to manage. The shop owner also cares about his shop and its reputation, he will make sure that his employees are going to represent it well and they will care about word of mouth. Nobody working at a huge corporation gives half a shit about its reputation or whether the company is doing well or flounders.

Be honest: Do you care about the company you work for? I don't. My current employer is a huge, faceless corp without any personal investment from anyone working there. Why should I? It was something completely different when I worked in a much smaller (~20 people) company, I knew the boss on a first name base because he sat an office away from me, and I could see how much he worked to make the company a success, and it encouraged and motivated me to do the same. I wanted him to succeed because I saw how he did his best to make the company a success, and I admire people who put their heart and sweat behind something.

Currently? I couldn't care less whether they sink or swim. If they go down, I hop on the next train. IT sec is currently on the rise, it's not like I will be out of a job any time soon.

Re:Responsibility (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308590)

Maybe not the company, but our customers DO matter to me. I work for them, the company is just a broker for my services.

Re:Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308658)

Sounds like you ought to start your own small company.

Hmmm. MS, Apple, Yahoo, CC companies, FB, etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308188)

ALL are targeting us. They are all selling to us and our information. Google does sell access to us. However, you can not get specific information about us. OTH, I CAN go to MS or Apple and get any of our information. If I put in the request correctly, I can find out who is one /., including your name, address, and phone numbers. However, you can not do that with Google. They will only sell access to us. Basically, somebody can target /.ers with ads, but not spam and not getting information about each of us.

So, this article seems premature at best. Of course, I do have to wonder what will happen with another CEO change or two. Look at HP, IBM and GE. Who would have thought that these once proud American icons, allowing themselves to be gutted in China, for some short-term earnings?

Re:Hmmm. MS, Apple, Yahoo, CC companies, FB, etc (1)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308534)

ALL are targeting us. They are all selling to us and our information. Google does sell access to us. However, you can not get specific information about us. OTH, I CAN go to MS or Apple and get any of our information.

Hmm, I thought Apple's talks with publishers were hung for quite a while because Apple refused to give them the credit card and personal details of people making purchases. When does Apple sell your information and to whom?

That said, I agree that your distinction is important. Personally, I rather prefer that Google sells access to me in a targeted way as it means the ads that do make their way to me are at least moderately tailored to things of interest to me.

Beware if you're not paying... (3)

Gavin Scott (15916) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308210)

It's the same as it has always been with commercial television, which most people don't understand either.

The vendor is the commercial broadcaster.
The customer is the advertiser.
The product is the viewer's soul which is sold to the advertiser in 30 second increments.

If you're not paying for something, take time to consider that maybe *you* are what's being sold.

Paying real money is very often the lowest cost way to get something.

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

G.

Re:Beware if you're not paying... (2)

andydread (758754) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308508)

If Google is selling my identity(Private Information) to their affiliates why is it that my phone is not getting blown up Google's affiliates. Why aren't they blowing up my email? Why aren't they flooding my postal mailbox with their offers? I think all this "ZOMG Google is selling your information to advertisers" seems quite alarmist. If Google converts my private info to some unique ID that Google then target me for their advertisers then I have no problem with that. I am not sure they are giving(selling) my private information directly to advertisers because then it would seem that the advertisers wouldn't need Google anymore once they get that information. They could target me directly. Does anyone have any definite proof that my private information is handed over to their advertisers? Are the cable companies selling my private information to their advertisers?

Google is more evil than the NBC/ABC/CBS ever were (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308224)

The TV networks only traffic'd in viewers in aggregate form, e.g. college-educated males aged 18-34 watch "Seinfeld" in such-and-such proportions.

Google will use an ever-growing variety of tools to determine exactly what each man, woman, and child in the entire world is doing, thinking, buying, selling, and traveling to on a moment-by-moment basis, whether they're explicitly logged in or not. And this data will be stored, replicated, indexed, data mined, and peddled for at least the next 150 years. It will never go away.

It wasn't long ago when Google was considered the protector of everyone's all-important right to obtain any piece of digital content for free. I remember thinking, you guys are fools. Sony, Warner, and EMI want to charge us ten or fifteen bucks for a CD. They'll take their cash and be out of the picture. Google wants to own us forever. They or their successors and customers will be publishing the dirty laundry of how each of individually led our lives long after we're dead.

Re:Google is more evil than the NBC/ABC/CBS ever w (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308258)

Google is not "more evil". They just have the better tools, if NBCBSwhatever had the tools, they'd do EXACTLY the same.

Companies see you as a way to make money. By selling to you, or by selling you. Either is fine by them.

Re:Google is more evil than the NBC/ABC/CBS ever w (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308680)

Translation : "Hes not a bad guy for killing someone ! If you baddies had a gun, you would kill too !"

Sure hope you're getting paid tons to defend multi-billion dollar advertising companies.

Re:Google is more evil than the NBC/ABC/CBS ever w (0)

andydread (758754) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308536)

You have any proof of this? or is this rampant speculation on you part?

Re:Google is more evil than the NBC/ABC/CBS ever w (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308634)

If he's wrong then why the real names policy?

TV deals in aggregate statistics. It's done so for decades.

Nailing it down to individuals with names is not what TV has done /at all/. One is more evil than the other. If you don't understand this, you're a retard.

--
BMO

Re:Google is more evil than the NBC/ABC/CBS ever w (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308622)

Yep, get ready for too-close-for-comfort targeted advertising. Girls age 14-22 that receive dick pics via gmail or SMS on their android? Ads for abortions, birth control products, and STD clinics. Guys age 14-?? that read slashdot on Friday night? Ads for Real Dolls, pocket pussy, and doritos. Women age 18-25 that read slashdot on a Friday night? They'll probably just email you directly and try to hook up.

Duh. (1)

repetty (260322) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308232)

Well, "Duh." Same for TV and radio. It's a REALLY old business model.

Here's what I taught my kids, growing up: Follow the money.

You noticed that now? (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308240)

It's been the staple of "free" commercial TV. You, the viewer, are not the "valued customer". You're the product, to be sold to the ad companies. Why the outcry now?

I don't think it's good or that I feel like it's ok to "sell" me, but, people, if you really just noticed that now, I wonder where you've been the last 50 years.

Re:You noticed that now? (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308528)

I don't think it's good or that I feel like it's ok to "sell" me, but, people, if you really just noticed that now, I wonder where you've been the last 50 years.

Newspapers have been doing it for a lot longer than 50 years. The purchase price of a newspaper has been subsidized by ad revenue since almost day one.

As for Google (or anyone/anything) selling my details as simply one nameless data point within a large demographic, meh. We all aggregate data about the world around us all the time in order to function in it at all. Google just found a way to milk it better than anyone else so far.

What I do resent is those entities that're stuffing my data into RDBs, then cross referencing with other RDBs again and again until everything that's out there lines up and unequivocally points undeniably back to me. That sort of thing certainly should be illegal, or at least reserved for LEOs with a valid warrant. I'm talking about you, cookie trackers, Facebook, etc.

And thus Google became evil... (1)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308246)

Oh well... Nothing we can really do about it. Ive been using google mail for my main email account for some time now. It will be hard to replace it specially because of the aggregation/generic mail client features. But I guess I have to, since in google's book I am with my extremely stable(15+ years in use) pseudonym a persona non grata. Many people have extremely good reasons for using pseudonyms. I'm not one of them. I simply chose a different name to live my creative/online life under and I intend to keep it. If Google thinks that makes me unfit to consume their services, then I will have to find something else.

Marketing-speak, newspeak, BS and reality (1)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308248)

Is the poster and TFA seriously proposing we can use the newspeak-marketing-BS from a sales brochure to evaluate the ethically values of a large multinational corporation?

Would it make a difference if the same marketing-BS-brochure stated that freebee end users were the customers?

Trusting hot air marketing text = fail! No matter what you conclusion is.

- Jesper

Google's non-issue issue (2)

vegaspctech (769513) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308256)

Google's naming policy strikes me as a non-issue. It won't prevent anyone from publishing indirectly, by way of an out-of-area friend, which is safer option anyway if you're posting about a government that wishes to silence you. It seems to me that worst case, it creates an opening for Google's competitors. Last I checked there were still many of those. Were it a government decision it'd be a different matter.

Re:Google's non-issue issue (2)

Inda (580031) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308502)


I feel the same.

I have the following people (names changed slightly to protect the abusers) in my circles: Maccy Dee; Dave JustDave, Darque Matter. Obviously not their real names.

Does Google really care?

I think what *slashdotters* don't understand often (3, Interesting)

Anubis350 (772791) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308262)

...is that to most people that's free.

Re:I think what *slashdotters* don't understand of (1)

Rizimar (1986164) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308394)

Even despite the fact that it isn't. What's the point?

Re:I think what *slashdotters* don't understand of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308460)

the point is whilst your screaming at the wall saying "the fact is it isn't" the wall is quite happy there being a wall.

Of course it's free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308290)

Slaughterhouses don't charge the cows, do they?

Re:Of course it's free (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308398)

If cows had money they'd probably give it a try.

As Seen on TV (1)

JackSpratts (660957) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308332)

Google is the modern equivalent of a huge, integrated television network, perhaps what in the past might have been a combined NBC/CBS.

It's pricey output, the things it spends its money on, from Google Maps to search to Google + to bandwidth are today's equivalent of tentpole programming like Ed Sullivan, Bonanza, The Tonight Show, Roots etc,. Its product of course, is viewers, us in other words, who are bundled and sold to advertisers in essentially the same fashion the TV networks did in the sixties.

Surely at this point in time this can't be up for debate or even news.

We "watch" Google all day long. Sometimes for hours, sometimes for moments. The fact that we interact a bit more with it doesn't alter the business equation or the reality of our relationship with the company.

- js.

Re:As Seen on TV (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308410)

Except that for television networks you specifically had to opt into giving them information, through ratings tracking companies.

Yes, Google's business model is just like an over-the-air TV network's. Except that Google has much more information about us, is now in charge of many or most of the communication channels we use to talk to each other, AND effectively controls much of the information we receive. So Google is kind of like the television networks, newspapers, postal service, phone company and government service branches all rolled into one. Oh, and they'd really like your medical records too, please.

Re:As Seen on TV (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308530)

Yeah, it's more problematic mostly in that they can now sell an individualized product with your specific details. Television sells an aggregate product instead. They need to know something about their demographics in order to sell you to advertisers, but they only need to know the information in aggregate, because: 1) they can't separately target different ads to different viewers, only on a per-show basis; and 2) they can't get detailed information anyway, but only samples and extrapolations from things like Nielsen viewers and telephone surveys.

The product is page views! (2)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308362)

'I'm unaware of any company that feels responsible to their product.

First of all that says more about him than Google. Most companies are.proud of their products.

The end users are not the product. The product is "exposure" - page views if you will - and the end users are the suppliers of that product.

Google, just like any other company, can't screw its suppliers without consequence.

- Jesper

Re:The product is page views! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308434)

'Responsible to' and 'proud of' are completely unrelated concepts.

Problem is not free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308376)

The problem is that Google has been super-late on the ball for requiring real name identities and has no facility to verify (tell me, where do you see Google Stores?)

Like eBay and moreso PayPal, you can pay for access to nexislexis and pretty much ruin fraudsters who try to misrepresent themselves as someone else (as in identity theft.) However the issue people have is they want to use their "Anonymous Coward" pseudonyms... and more than one person may use it. Imagine how many weeaboo's named "Yuki" are out there and how many real Japanese have that name.

Had gmail started out with identity validation, it would never have taken off. Everyone would be using hotmail or yahoo mail. They still don't verify anything, so this real name policy is dead in the water. If Google had started with a PayPal like product, then yes because of the requirements to interface with the banks that ONLY use real names is the reason for it.

Here's how you get a bank account in the US:
1. You need a SSN or some other taxpayer ID number
2. You need good credit more or less.
3. You need several forms of ID (I had to use a passport)

Then you wait and get approved. Now roll back just a bit. How do I get a bank account under a pseudonym? You can't. I mean sure, I could send the bank some fake info, but it'll get flagged. However millions of illegal immigrants manage to open bank accounts... So what's the real issue?

The real issue is that there is no guarantee of identity. Corps want it so they have someone to sue, but if you don't exist, then the company is out some money.

Let's use one more example. mint.com
mint.com interfaces with all your bank and investment accounts... how does it work? It saves a copy of your secret questions and passwords obviously. Otherwise it wouldn't ask the questions repeatedly. At no point in time do any of my bank accounts actually ask me to verify that mint.com is allowed to access. So in theory anyone could open a mint.com account and access anyones bank account provided they have their login info, and the bank will never see that fraudster access the account. (PS you can't transfer money via mint.com, it's just a online budget system.)

On the flip side of this is the ePOST system that Canada Post has. This allows the banks to see your bills, but you have to authenticate on both sides (your bank and your bill payee) Still... nobody is asking to see the real name.

The point being that at no point in time is the REAL NAME ever useful. I'd pretty much only do online business under my pseudonym and have had to make up "last names" whenever one of these stupid sites wouldn't accept a single name. When I deal with anything directly financial related, I use my legal name, (eg paypal) even though the email address clearly shows my pseudonym. And this is the point.

Google DOES NOT need real names. If they were to suddenly operate as a bank, they would temporarily have access to REAL NAMES for purposes of initiating a billing system with a bank or credit card, but beyond that, the real names aren't needed, and undesired. And this is where Google has made the fatal mistake. People are using google with pseudonyms because they ARE NOT conducting financial transactions. If they want to start conducting financial transactions people will go make a new google profile JUST FOR THAT. For their facebook clone, nobody wants to use their real name, otherwise they'll just go use Twitter instead.

What does that have to do with real names? (2)

orgelspieler (865795) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308406)

Advertisers don't care what your name is as long as they know what you are likely to buy. If my name is Joe Schmoe that tells them nothing more about my buying habits. Now, if they can say my handle is twerpmeister67 on hamstersrock.com, then they have something they can sell to advertisers. Petsmart can try to sell me corn cob bedding, or whatever.

Better yet, let people have multiple handles, just like they do already. Tying those together, but allowing them to be separate in the consumers mind would be the best of both worlds. That way people can surf around however they want (e.g. Justin Bieber fansites) and not be worried about being outed as some kind of weirdo later. Say your trying to play video games with your kids or something. You don't want unsavory Bieber adverts popping up when you're looking for a fun game of Dinowaurs. Instead, you want to see advertisements for more dinosaur stuff or similar games.

It really seems like Google is missing the mark here. Advertisers, too. But honestly, I'm not that surprised.

That would make users the VENDORS (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308412)

As a prospective vendor of Google, I would like to dictate my terms for delivery of the product. Namely (1) my private information is not part of the deal, Google's not to be allowed to sell or redistribute that further without my permission, and (2) I demand to be fairly compensated in the form of payment in cash from Google to provide the product of eyes to view customers' AdWords ad.

Re:That would make users the VENDORS (1)

andydread (758754) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308604)

Its very easy. Just don't use ANY of Google's. Plain and simple. Or maybe you could PAY Google for the use of their services. How bout that?

Price is too high for "free stuff" from these guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308420)

All this "free stuff" has a price. Which is why I'm not part of Facebook and have no interest in Google+ at its current pricing.

Can we please stop this meme? (5, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308436)

"You are the product! Ooga-booga-booga!!1"

It's just a sound-byte meant to whip you into an outrage by equivocating advertising with slavery.

Company X provides a product.
You, the customer, pay for it with tiny portions of your time.
Company X then sells those bits of time to other companies.

You are not being sold. You are willingly looking at a few ads in exchange for a product. I know outrage feels good. It's like a drug. But find something real to be outraged over.

Re:Can we please stop this meme? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308584)

"You are the product! Ooga-booga-booga!!1"

Soylent Green, alternate ending.

Re:Can we please stop this meme? (2)

grumling (94709) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308662)

GOOGLE PLUS IS PEOPLE!

Re:Can we please stop this meme? (2)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308700)

You are not being sold. You are willingly looking at a few ads in exchange for a product. I know outrage feels good. It's like a drug. But find something real to be outraged over.

I don't mind looking at a few ads, or even targeted ads. But when they target them based on un-anonymized personal interests/activities and who people know and sell that info to advertisers, that's basically selling a 'named' person's social life.

TANSTAAFL (1)

Hungus (585181) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308462)

Repeat after me: There ain't no such thing as a free lunch

I think Facebook is now using /. for negative ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308486)

Seriously, this is a non story.

How is this news? Advertising is used in a free product! Have you ever listened to radio?

None of this is news. If you are surprised by the fact that someone on the Internet is using advertising to make money, you should probably step away from the computer now.

And you know what. Big deal, this type of attitude makes me laugh. You are the same people who wouldn't pay for a service if it killed you.

"But what about the poor person in Syria?!" They could just as easily name themselves John Smith as they could SyRiAfReedomFigher83.

Let me tell a big secret. If you are of no interest (and that's most of you), no one will care. You are just another number. Get over yourself. If you are interesting, using SyRiAfReedomFigher83 is not going to protect you.

This is silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308494)

Google has two sets of customers and two sets of products. They sell service access (product) to you (customer) in return for your attention. They sell your attention (product) to advertising companies (customer) in return for money. You are a customer whose attention is a product, just like if you go into a recycling center and manage to barter one item of yours (your attention) for a different item (service access). You don't cease to be a customer just because you pay in something other than money. These kinds of story are part of what is wrong with Slashdot.

Google is ad-supported media (1)

ZipK (1051658) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308506)

This is no different than commercial radio or television. A station owner drafts programming that will attract a demographic that's desirable to a chosen set of advertisers. The radio listeners or television viewers are a unit of exchange between the station and the advertisers. Users are fodder, not customers.

This is why I trust Microsoft (1)

Eirenarch (1099517) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308546)

This is precisely why I trust Microsoft (and other companies that want my money) and not Google. Microsoft have something to lose. They want my money for certain product and they will want my money for the next version of the product. It is in their best interest to keep me happy and not betray my trust because if they do they go out of business. With Google if they don't betray my trust they go out of business anyway because they betray the trust of their customers.

No, privacy freaks don't understand (1, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308576)

I do NOT care! I know I am a product to google and radio station and tv channels and I don't care because I don't use them.

Do you think slashdot is any different? Samzenpus, were does your salary come from? Readers or advertisers? Anything that sells more views is a go right? That is why headlines are often widely inaccurate and story angled chosen to raise the maximum ire so there will be lots of ads impressions.

Google isn't making a soap box it isn't making the next facebook, it has seen linkedin and liked it and thought it could do more with it. I got several gmail accounts, including some totally fake ones and some real ones. I am not intrested in google+ because frankly my live ain't intresting enough to share. Did a massive dump in the toilet, posted on slashdot, that is about it for today...or was it the other way around.

Some nutters think that Google owes them a public forum on which they should be able to say whatever they want, provide zero revenue for Google, annoy Googles paying customers at will and basically be complete an utter assholes... well, silly Google for not wanting to do that.

If you care so much about some guy in Syria, run your own website that allows free speech. Enjoy the gigantic bill and zero income. Oh, your bleeding heart doesn't extend to your wallet? How un-expected.

Google+ is a social site with real id's because that is what google has decided. Don't like it, don't use it. There are plenty of sites that require real data and plenty that don't. Make a choice and stop trying to convince everyone that YOUR choice is the right one and they are so wrong for thinking different. I almost feel like signing up for google+ now just to spite the privacy freaks... but nobody invited me yet... waaaaaaaah!

I like the deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37308596)

If you don't like it, don't use it. I like the deal - some personal info for a lot of free, and extremely useful, services. I don't like it when you tell me what I can and can't do with my own personal information.

credibility? (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308646)

The guy writes an article slamming Google, but right at the top of the page is a +1 button.

Don't read the article! He's turning you into a product!

Amazon's Real Names (tm) (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37308712)

Amazon has had an even more strict Real Name feature, with respect to product reviews at least, for some time now. Why isn't there a bigger outcry about that, I wonder? I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear later that the Google+ identity system is intended for exactly the same purpose, to "add value" to consumer product reviews. Google isn't doing it right, whatever the intention.

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