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The Phantoms of Google+

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the you-who-are-not-are dept.

Google 214

theodp writes "Engadget reports that Google wants a patent on its System and Method for Generating a Ghost Profile for a Social Network. The brainchild of five Googlers, the invention is designed to convert anti-social-networking types to the joys of Google+ and its ilk. From the patent: 'A problem arises when users of social networks are friends with people that are opposed to social networks. The second group misses out on an important social component. For example, many users only share their photos on a social networking site. As a result, users that do not want to join the social network are forced to either join with reservations or miss out on the social component, such as viewing pictures.' By generating an unsearchable 'ghost profile' when a member of the social network invites a Google+ adverse friend to join, Google explains, non-believers get to participate in social networking activities without providing user information."

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nope (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534967)

Sounds like a grab to boost G+'s userbase beyond Wil Wheaton and Google engineers.

Not gonna touch Google+ until they get rid of their "real names" policy and I'm not inclined since I've invested so much of my online social life with Facebook.

Re:nope (5, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#39535007)

Sounds like a grab to boost G+'s userbase beyond Wil Wheaton and Google engineers.

Not gonna touch Google+ until they get rid of their "real names" policy and I'm not inclined since I've invested so much of my online social life with Facebook.

Do you use your real name on Facebook? Seriously a lot of people complain about the "real name" policy even though they use it openly on Facebook. This may or may not be hypocritical, I suppose if you keep your porn collection on Picasa....

Re:nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535041)

I don't use my real name on Facebook. My first name is common enough and the surname is "yourfullname". Nobody can tag me and I'm constantly removing tags from stuff.

Re:nope (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#39535535)

I don't get what people out there think.....somehow it must be groupthink that if you're not on FB and/or Google+ or twitter or xyz social network, that you are being left behind in the dark ages, alone in the cold with no contact with human life any longer.....that you have lost every friend you've gathered in life to this point.

Seriously, I don't have any accounts on these networks, and I don't intend to, there is just too much trade of IMHO, for my privacy.....to join up on one of these. I mean, even with a fake name.....they've shown they can figure out who you are with who you associate...etc.

Seriously, I've not missed an even with any of my friends...I've not missed a picture I'd want to see.....

I stil do this weird thing, and see my close friends regularly in meatspace....I call them, I email directly with them, sometimes *gasp* with multiple of us on the same email thread?!?!

This way...the conversation, pics and what-have-you...are just between us and not out for the rest of the world to gawk at, and have corporations (and governments) use all that info to advertise or worse at me.

Seriously....it isn't painful.....I don't miss a thing.

Re:nope (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535613)

Seriously, I don't have any accounts on these networks, and I don't intend to

... he posted, using his account on Slashdot.

Re:nope (3, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#39535687)

There are two possibilities:

(1) all your friends are Luddites, too.

(2) you are the person everyone complains about and has to spend extra time tracking down because you're the only one not using the new technology.

If you want to skip the whole FB/G+ thing, it's not a huge deal. But please, don't complain if you start getting left out of shit. I know some people like you and, quite honestly, I tend to simply not invite them to do meatspace stuff half the time. It's too much effort. Part of my being able to run a business, sit on two artistic boards of directors, one community service board, have time to play with my 9 year old, share stories with my relatives and friends on four continents is because I don't waste time on arranging stuff with every person individually. I know phone trees were all the rage in the 1960s (and, yes, the phone company is tracking who you contact, by the way), and chain letters may have been useful in the 19th century (still mostly untrackable if you use the USPS, though that's mostly due to gross incompetence).

I'm sure there are still lots of places where personal interaction for all of your interpersonal communications is manageable and commonplace. Just realize that if you have friends who are on social sites, they're probably leaving you out - intentionally or unintentionally - because if you're not on them you're simply not around for all of the conversations.

This G+ thing may be just a way to entice naysayers into the fold so they can rape their privacy for cold hard advertising cash. Or it may be a way to show the naysayers that there really are good things happening (i hopes that someday they can rape your privacy for cold hard advertising cash). It may just be a way to show FB users how much (they hope) they're missing by not being on G+.

Re:nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535753)

"I know some people like you and, quite honestly, I tend to simply not invite them to do meatspace stuff half the time. It's too much effort. Part of my being able to run a business, sit on two artistic boards of directors, one community service board, have time to play with my 9 year old, share stories with my relatives and friends on four continents is because I don't waste time on arranging stuff with every person individually."

How the hell do you have time for slashdot? Anyway, I'm glad I don't know you. Even if I did, no worries--you'd never invite lil' ol' Luddite me to ever do anything. Are you sure you're not the creation of a social network's marketing machine? Anyway, have fun in your artistic boardrooms. Do you like sit around and paint or turn clay pots or what?

Re:nope (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535773)

That is probably not true either....

I have both of those services. Guess what. My friends use it. But they do not use it to communicate with me. They use email/im/phone/walking up to me/etc...

The *ONLY* people who seem to want to use it are the ones who 'want to stay in touch' but do not want to commit to actually being around me.

Staying in touch quickly facebook and + are *horrible* ways to do it. Email, IM, and the phone are much quicker ways to get in touch with someone.

If you camp out on facebook, setup its notifications (using email, IM, RSS) yeah you could use it as a way to get in touch. But why do that? Just cut out the middle man and use IM/phone or rss yourself?

If you feel like you are going to be left out because of not using facebook. So what?

What google needs to figure out is stop posting things to me that I do not care about from people I have *NEVER* heard of.

Re:nope (1)

swalve (1980968) | about 2 years ago | (#39535877)

Facebook is great to stay in touch because you can broadcast things instead of narrowcasting them. An acquaintance can type "baby #4 arrived, $name, $weight, mom and baby are fine" and all their friends know about it. Done.

Re:nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536013)

In other words, you can't be bothered to maintain relationships and have streamlined it down to broadcasting to an audience.

Re:nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535799)

I don't waste time on arranging stuff with every person individually.

So, you must be using some kind of templates for those. I'm sure you're no run IRL so the person you're replying to won't miss a thing if you don't meet him personally, you are just a boring person and everyone is okay with that, there are lots of people like you, that is why social networking sites are so popular actually — you don't have to do a fucking thing to make so called friends.

Or it may be a way to show the naysayers that there really are good things happening

They aren't, because it's you know Google and Facebook, nice things can't happen here. The cash register can't make nice thing happen, it's people who can and they do.

Re:nope (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535945)

How does wanting to have real and personal contact with people make them luddites? I didn't think forming and maintaining relationships was something that could become outdated.

People like you are sad and self-centred. The fact that you think you're so important that people are going to be left out validates that. If a friend can't take a couple minutes out of their oh so busy day to contact me personally, then they are no friend at all and I would rather be "left out" of their dealings.

This is the only redeeming value I place in social networks, their existence sometimes helps me to weed out the fake from the real. I haven't gotten to the point of outright rejecting people as friends because they want to use social networks but if someone ever pulled the crap you do, I remove them from my life.

Relationships aren't something that automatically last. They require nurturing and care. If you're too busy to take care of them, they wither and die.

Re:nope (2)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 2 years ago | (#39536045)

3) Friends and self aren't 'tards who post about not being able to find product ??? at the store and have no interest in hearing about that happening to others.

"Just realize that if you have friends who are on social sites, they're probably leaving you out - intentionally or unintentionally - because if you're not on them you're simply not around for all of the conversations."

Clue to you. Your friends *don't* leave you out through neglect. Not in the base definition.

"Luddite?"! Um, yeah, We're Luddites. Sure... (0)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | about 2 years ago | (#39536109)

Actually, I avoid Google+ to avoid the people who use tired "cyber-phrases" like "meatspace" and rabid Google fanbois (I apologize if that's being redundant) who will sacrifice (and then try to sanctimoniously justify that sacrifice) their privacy for the latest Shiny.

I'm with you-ish. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535817)

I take it a step further. My real friends have my phone number, not my e-mail address. Why? I would prefer they call or text me, and we get together and do things IN REAL LIFE, not via fakelife, that is, in "cyberspace". HOWEVER, as for your idea that your conversations that are CC'ed to all your groupfriends, unless you're using some serious industrial/military strength encryption, the government and private companies ARE still potentially reading it. You haven't prevented them by using e-mail, you've just made it not worth their while. That's all.

The downside to my approach, I've just realized, is if you have friends who turn out to be borderline alcoholics... everything you do with them ultimately involves 1, alcohol, and 2, sharing of things that should remain personal and confidential... OMG, I have a real-life social network, complete with data breaches and EVERYTHING!!! AAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!

Maybe I should just get a fb/gp account after all.

On a side note, in response to Overzeetop's comment, hey, not everyone who refuses to embrace every idiotic fad is a Luddite. Some of us are simply people with discriminating tastes, who don't jump on every bandwagon full of idiots that comes rolling down the street. As a matter of fact, I don't need to see every boring, poorly composed photo you've taken. I don't need to know the specifics of your dad's colonoscopy. There are things that should be kept to the self because others don't want to know, don't need to know, or simply shouldn't know. This tendency toward sharing everything may sound like a good idea, but imagine if it were involuntary, if there were no filter. Imagine a Google Streetview/The "Real" World crew followed you around, and you could NOT shut them out. Imagine if you had NO choice but to let these guys into every intimate corner of your life. They watch you eat, drink, work, sleep, shit, piss, fuck, etc., etc., etc.

Not so different from what you have now with these "social networks", is it? You figure it's okay, if you're a SN user, because YOU control (or so you think) what goes on the net, when, and how much. But suppose you miscalculate? Suppose someone miscalculates for you? (Remember that guy who just got convicted of a hate/bias crime for posting pics or a vid or whatever, of his queer roommate's screwing another dude online?) How is life really improved by this? We developed a sense of the value of privacy for a reason. It goes hand in hand with freedom, whether or not it's enshrined in law. Other people simply do not have a need to know every little detail. They shouldn't want to know it. When it's my life, they (and you) don't GET to know it. It's part of why I stopped using my /. profile (yes, I have one) to post. If you're relying on my "karma" to determine whether or not the content of my posts adds to the conversation, you're not truly evaluating the truth and value of my words. It's the most ridiculous fallacious appeal to authority I've ever seen. It's like listening to the political opinions of actors and athletes. People assume because they're famous, they must be important, and so worth listening to. People who get paid to play for a living, play make believe, or play games... it's really sad.

Re:I'm with you-ish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39536147)

My real friends have my phone number, not my e-mail address. Why? I would prefer they call or text me

Why on Earth do you prefer SMS to e-mail?

An e-mail has no ( sane ) length limits, can convey various media, costs nothing to send or receive and is available on many more types of device than SMS. Yes, even on phones.

No-one has my phone number because I use a data SIM. If they need me, an e-mail makes my phone beep.

Re:nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535757)

Don't use FaceBook at all.

Getting to tell one recruiter that got a rather priceless look on their face, honestly.

Re:nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535833)

Sounds like a grab to boost G+'s userbase beyond Wil Wheaton and Google engineers.

Not gonna touch Google+ until they get rid of their "real names" policy and I'm not inclined since I've invested so much of my online social life with Facebook.

Do you use your real name on Facebook? Seriously a lot of people complain about the "real name" policy even though they use it openly on Facebook. This may or may not be hypocritical, I suppose if you keep your porn collection on Picasa....

I think people want the choice of using their real name or not.

I think a lot of people would probably even happy with "personas" on Google+: you have to sign up with your real name, but you can then create 'virtual' personas that you can post things as. So a G+ account called "Chris J. Smith" is the real name, and you can then create a "Chrisq" which you can post to forums and such.

Re:nope (1, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | about 2 years ago | (#39535643)

Sounds like a grab to boost G+'s userbase beyond Wil Wheaton and Google engineers.

no, it's far worse than that: Google is creating a "ghost" profile by mining your youtube, gmail, searches, android phone, etc, and they're going to tell you whenever your friends and family do something by emailing you, etc, to compel you to login to the ghost profile they created for you.

So much for "don't be evil". This sounds about as evil as it gets, stealing your data and subscribing you up for a service you never wanted.

Re:nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535791)

or Google is applying a patent to prevent someone operating a site or an "app" that make ghost profiles for people that don't want to be on social network...

There is money in that!

Re:nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535815)

just make a rule to send it to the trash.

Re:nope (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39535913)

Sounds like a grab to boost G+'s userbase beyond Wil Wheaton and Google engineers.

Not gonna touch Google+ until they get rid of their "real names" policy and I'm not inclined since I've invested so much of my online social life with Facebook.

The real names policy has been relaxed, but that doesn't mean they don't already know precisely who you are.

What's more worrying is that this Patent they are applying for, if used by them, violates their own Privacy Policy, and their own openness pledge. After being dragged through a knot hole by the FTC and Congress, It seems unlikely they will actually put this into service any time soon.

I doubt this is being used yet. There is nothing on my Google Dashboard [google.com], even tho I've ignored multiple invites to G+. So if they are creating this phantom account its not accessible even by the user, and as such must be merely a book keeping entry to allow authentication. If G+ users hit that Invite button, they may simply record the invite in a file somewhere so that they can add both parties to each other's circles. They had been doing that with Gmail invites since day one. (back when you needed to be invited to Gmail).

Go to hell, Borg overlords (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534989)

Simple as that.

I'm not joining. You won't monetize or profile me. If that means I quit sharing certain things with social junkies, then so be it.

I'm not your datapoint and I never will be.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535061)

I agree. If people want to share photos or whatever, upload them to a public directory on Skydrive, Box, Dropbox or your own site so everybody can see them. I won't join any social network because someone wants to be inconsiderate.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535211)

Ever vote or make a comment on /.? You're a datapoint. Get over it.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535231)

I'm not your datapoint and I never will be.

Says who? You? Since when were you the law?

You are valuable data whether you want to be or not.
This includes mail records of you acceptability for certain mail by coalitions (such as vouchers, sports mailing list previews, spam and various other things), insurance, medical, hell, even in some cases "threat level" if you ever hit any flags.

Somebody can sit there on the side of a road, recording you and thousands of others going past in cars, recording said information without your permission.
Want to know why? Because you are on public property.
Despite what you (and many others sadly) think, the internet is public property if it contains 3rd party access. Unless that site is fully-contained within its own domain, you are free to be recorded, marked and scrutinized by whatever, whenever.
As long as that information isn't published to others directly, they are free to manipulate it for whatever nefarious purposes.
Google, nor do most of the hundreds of other advertising agencies, directly identify people in ad networking systems.

So, please, don't worry your head over it. Government-mandated records contain far more information on you than Google could ever hope to get from you.
From your dental health to your shoe-buying habits.
Everyone always calls Britain the Big Brother country, the Police-State. Most governments record these things. Some far more, some far less.
The UK barely even has any CCTV, actually. And most of them in those stupid reports were PRIVATE cameras. The silly thing was making it out like there was a camera in every street corner or something... hilarious if you ask me.

If you are really that paranoid over Google, god forbid you could get access to all your records. Stacks upon stacks of folders on everyone, still recorded on paper in the unlikely event that our entire electrical infrastructures fail and we lose everything. (not sure why "Steve McRobertson bought a candied Apple, milk and bacon in 1978" would be useful for any long-term reasons")
You might as well just fake your death and go live in some random forest, the forests don't care about stalking you. Unless it is those damned forests in horror stories who want to gobble up little children. WHY

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (4, Insightful)

kent_eh (543303) | about 2 years ago | (#39535505)

You are valuable data whether you want to be or not.

I am intentionally an inaccurate datapoint.

I know I can't control that a lot of information is being collected without my knowledge or consent.
So whenever I do get a choice, I'll provide information that is either inaccurate, ambiguous, or flat out contradictory to what is already known about me.

The more polluted their databases are, the less valuable it is to them, and thus the less influence they have over my life.
At least that's my hypothesis.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#39535765)

I am intentionally an inaccurate datapoint.

I know I can't control that a lot of information is being collected without my knowledge or consent.
So whenever I do get a choice, I'll provide information that is either inaccurate, ambiguous, or flat out contradictory to what is already known about me.

The more polluted their databases are, the less valuable it is to them, and thus the less influence they have over my life.

At least that's my hypothesis.

Sorry to tell you this - but it's not working, Mr. James Harrison of Baltimore, Maryland.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (0)

wanzeo (1800058) | about 2 years ago | (#39535255)

The funny thing is, ever since G+ came onto the horizon, I have been a more active user of Facebook.

It's better to be half assimilated by two, than completely assimilated by one.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#39535293)

You already are a data point. You've no idea how sophisticated the software that monitors what you do has gotten. I was recently involved in an integration with some of this sort of software on a site that gets a couple of million hits a day. It's amazing what they can do. If you go to a website, they will, regardless of your desires, browser settings, even proxies, know exactly what you do while there, and if you come back. They then share all this with other companies to build a profile of you. The simple fact that you say you don't want to be tracked ironically gives them an excuse to track you. They have to log your desire to not be tracked right? Then the store all your website activity by other methods, like IP Address, browser, OS, and a hundred other data points.... which builds a profile of you, without building a profile of you. They can claim this is just standard logging for security. Then, if you ever enter your email address or phone number on the site, they make the convenient assumption that you've changed your mind about your privacy. And here's the kicker, they don't just assume you've changed your mind going forward, they assume you've change your mind about the past to! So they drag up all your past traffic and attach it to your email address. Everything you do on the web is tracked and logged in excruciating detail by marketing departments all over the world. So far we're lucky that the government hasn't gotten access to this data yet, but it's only a matter of time.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535617)

I'm the AC who started this thread.

My browsing goes over a very sanitized Tor. No ads, no trackers, nothing. RequestPolicy kills any attempt to inject third party crap. I manually whitelist only necessary cookies and NONE last after the browser is closed, which happens often. No plugins, nothing.

Only my friends and my bank have my real email address which is on a VPS I manage and control. Everything else is throwaway. Almost all of my outbound email is OpenPGP encrypted.

I don't buy things online with my government issued identity. If I need to engage in ecommerce, I buy an anonymous throwaway debit Visa card and make up a name.

I don't register for $RANDOM_WEBSITE.

My phone is a prepaid on no contract and not in my name.

They aren't profiling me. There is nothing to track and profile. I've deliberately poisoned their attempts while staying hidden in the crowd.

I'm not a consumer. If that means I miss out on some cheap thrills and have to go through some extra work, then so be it.

I have nothing really interesting to hide, but I'll be damned if I give them the satisfaction and income of having me under their thumb.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (2)

Grygus (1143095) | about 2 years ago | (#39535709)

Then what's the problem with joining FaceBook? They would gather nothing useful and you would gain access to whatever is there.

Just seems like you went to all the trouble to invent an invisibility cloak, then refuse to go outside with it.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535909)

I do go "outside" - I am here aren't I?

What you propose - using facebook - is like ripping a hole in my invisibility cloak.

This isn't about not being tracked online. This is about not letting my online actions connect to my real person. At a minimum, using facebook would connect my real person to any "friends" on facebook.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (5, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | about 2 years ago | (#39535385)

And then you get angry at them when they provide you with a way to AVOID giving them information?

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535605)

I think the point is that we shouldn't have to avoid giving them information, let alone be provided with a way to avoid giving them information. They should not be gathering this information in the first place without our explicit permission and agreement before they start.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535609)

And then you get angry at them when they provide you with a way to AVOID giving them information?

Sure, you can visit and go inside a crack-house without buying, possessing, or using crack cocaine.

But why the hell would you?

No anger is necessary, just reason. There's nothing there that appeals to me. I fulfill my social needs through friends and family in meatspace. There's not a thing Facebook or G+ can offer me. Being able to use the service without giving personal info does not mean there is suddenly anything there that I need or want.

Here's what you are doing now. Imagine there is a store that sells nothing I want to buy. Imagine also that there is no one inside the store I wish to talk to. In light of this, I decide not to visit the store. Instead, I go someplace that better suits me. You conclude I must be angry at the store. That's just ridiculous.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535841)

I permabanned Google+ when Vic Gundotra decided to ignore users and be an asshole with his stupid Real Names policy. Other products followed when I realized what a bunch of privacy invading creeps those Google assholes are.

--
mchurch

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#39535979)

And then you get angry at them when they provide you with a way to AVOID giving them information?

Avoid my ass.

This isn't about avoiding giving google more information, it's about another way for google to get more information about you.

Consider the two scenarios here:

1) Refuses to use google+ - google gets the email address the "invitation" went to and nothing else.

2) Uses one of these phatom accounts - google gets your IP address, your browser fingerprint probably drops a cookie on your browser and they get your link to the friend who "invited" you, and can link that with any other friend whose "invitation" you also responded to and any that ip/cookie/fingerprint links to any google searches you may have done

#2 is vastly more information than #1

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535387)

Here's a really quick method of losing me as a friend:

1 Upload a picture of me to one of the world's most privacy infringing companies (Google or Facebook).
2 "Tag" me so the system knows which pixels are my face.
3 Associate it with my email address.

If you want to screw your own privacy by uploading stuff you'll regret in 20 years then be my guest but don't drag me into it. That's not cool.

Re: (2)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about 2 years ago | (#39535635)

Its seriously gotten so bad that I pretty much either A) tackle the idiot or B) run for the hills every time I see a camera.

Re:Go to hell, Borg overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535581)

Too bad you and everyone else not already not in social networks have already joined.

Why?

Have you seen MyLife.com? Even non-members have a minimal profile about them from the public records that have been scraped. Just don't claim the profile to confirm it's yours, but you do have a profile, however accurate or inaccurate.

What makes you think Google+ won't do the same thing? They own one of the largest advertisers out there meaning Doubleclick and then have added to their own aggressive data collection and advertising methods to that.

Furthermore, social networking including but not limited to Facebook, Linkedn, Google+, MyLife, Memory Lane, etc. are all about using the user data for targeted advertising. Didn't anyone notice the silent changes to LinkedIn? Facebook style social advertising enabled by default. Allowing LinkedIn to track views of other pages with LinkedIn content by default. Allowing LinkedIn to personalize ads. Facebook did a lot of that first, and LinkedIn with no originality just had to copy that.

You name the social network company, the strategy is basically the same. User data, for sale to advertisers, with a limited amount of value added features to keep the user logging in.

So what about the secondary "benefits" such as viewing photos, keeping in touch and such? To me they are way overrated, because real friends can send those via cellphones, e-mail, or heck even postal mail as well. If someone needs a social network to keep in touch, to broadcast their data and a subset of their friends' data to advertisers, what does that about the reliability and trustworthiness of that individual? At the minimum, they've sold out the names and profile URLs to the advertisers.

Just wait until any of those social networking entities changes a private or unsearchable profile to searchable, because of some "bug" or "oversight" with a feature upgrade. It's going to happen, it's a matter of when not if.

Also keep this in mind specific to Google: Google Groups already silently unremoved a considerable number of previously removed posts in the newest version of Groups so that even if they aren't accessible, they are searchable and the snippet appears. Remember? Those once removed in Deja News. Those one removed by sending personal information and a sworn statement that was electronically signed. Check your old posts you may have removed, and are they still searchable in new Groups even if they don't show up when accessed? That means there is already cause to believe the unsearchable ghost profile will sooner or later be searchable.

Uh... (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#39534991)

Remind me again why I want to participate in social networking?

This is the biggest / most ridiculous case of "because it's there" in the history of our species.

Re:centralization (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535043)

Its part of the urge to centralise.

  When we are presented with more distributed services such as email, setting up your own wordpress installation, or IRC server, everyone gives there entire online existence to google, twitter & facebook.

This is better because we are putting more, bigger eggs in the worlds largest basket, which doesn't have keep eggs safe on its agenda

Re:Uh... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535101)

Remind me again why I want to participate in social networking?

This is the biggest / most ridiculous case of "because it's there" in the history of our species.

Because you suck at talking with people in real life, which is why you're instead posting to strangers on the internet.

Re:Uh... (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 years ago | (#39535133)

Remind me again why I want to participate in social networking?

Convenience?

It's much easier to just go to facebook when I need to contact someone rather than keep their information up-to-date in at least one address book.

It's much easier to post a baby announcement on facebook than to send out individual emails.

Casual multiplayer games are much more fun when your friends are the opponents (e.g. Words with Friends).

Re:Uh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535473)

Yeah and it's even easier, more enriching and more personal for me to just IM or phone someone.

e-mail lists are easy to setup for making announcements, but even then I will take the time to contact my friends and family members individually because it is more personal, I actually care about them enough to do so and the event is important enough to warrant it. This also allows real discussions to take place instead of a jumbled thread of one word replies. What you are doing is the equivalent of using form letters to write to friends and family.

You sound like those people who go out to bars or clubs and only want to hang out with your circle of friends. I never understood why people do this since those are supposed to be social places. Whenever I go out, whether with friends or alone, I always meet new people instead of just sticking to the group or wall. With that in mind, if you only want to play public games with people you know, you're not being very social, now are you?

It seems most people on social networks don't care so much about building relationships with others, they care more about saying "Look at me and look at what I did."

Re:Uh... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535299)

I've been (and deep-down still am) one of these anti-social-network types. Sadly, I felt that I had no other choice but to create a Facebook profile after friends and family started using it to discuss plans and all sorts of stuff, and I kept being the last person to find out about, well... everything. I still get a sickening feeling from how basically such a large part of my social life now takes place on a for-profit company's website whose apparent clients are advertisers and I am the product it is offering, but it was litterally becoming a choice between being a social outcast or joining Facebook.. sigh. :|

Re:Uh... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39535887)

Remind me again why I want to participate in social networking?

Because it's much better to make one company the complete arbiter of all of your interpersonal communication than to give lots of competing companies a small and replaceable slice of it. No, I don't understand it either.

Finally! (5, Funny)

Georules (655379) | about 2 years ago | (#39535001)

This will be HUGE! We all already knew that G+ was a ghost town. Suddenly, G+ will have TONS of active ghost members.

Didn't get enough people at the party? Code them into the system instead. Oh, and patent it.

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535003)

Did google just put a patented on getting around the real-name policy?

Dear Google... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535013)

I don't miss out on anything, thank you very much.

Yes, please, force me to be social (3, Insightful)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#39535017)

Yes, force people who do NOT want to be social to be social, that is a great way to get product support.

Stupid fucking gits.

If that shit worked, I'd be religious.

Re:Yes, please, force me to be social (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535095)

If that shit worked, I'd be religious.

Unfortunately, there's a pretty good chance you already go to their church.

Re:Yes, please, force me to be social (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535379)

I don't think you get it. This is made exactly for you, in a way you will like it. Someone shares their photos with you and you want to see them without joining any social network and giving your info away. Tada, that's what this ghost profile is for. Google will let you see the photos and not need you to join.

Re:Yes, please, force me to be social (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39535897)

Yes, force people who do NOT want to be social to be social

Please can we not conflate not wanting to be part of a massive centralised communications system controlled and monitored by a single unaccountable entity with not wanting to be social?

Marketers (2)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | about 2 years ago | (#39535033)

As soon as the marketers get bored of abusing G+ for SEO purposes, it's going to die a quick death.

Other than the RSS feed posts, it's dead air anyway.

Re:Marketers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535285)

The RSS feed type posts from Ars Technica, LifeHacker, etc. are actually sort of helpful. I find that it isn't dead air. I see (and respond to) posts from several friends. I put my own posts there too. We share pictures, posts (today some friends were sharing thoughts on a couple of movies), and other things. It is only dead air if you make it dead air. Circle the right people and it is fine. I haven't yet seen one of those "copy and paste this for your status update" idiotic things yet. Get a couple of friends using it - for example introduce them to "Google Instant" where photos taken from your phone automatically upload (in an unshared state - only you can access them) and they may stay for the other features. I find Google Instant very helpful. I can be down in the lab at work and take a picture of a screen (typically while booted to an OS that doesn't do screen grabs) and not have to go back upstairs to my desk and grab a USB cable. The photos are uploaded automatically and I can do basic crop, size, color balance adjustments right in Google+ and then snip the photo from there for documentation. Again, only a ghost town or dead air if you choose to make it that way. Circle a bunch of people who won't sign up (email only)? Dead air. Circle interesting people who use G+ a lot + a few friends who use it? Very interesting and definitely NOT dead air.

Re:Marketers (4, Insightful)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 2 years ago | (#39535575)

As soon as the marketers get bored of abusing G+ for SEO purposes, it's going to die a quick death.

Can you give us a prediction when MySpace is going to die a quick death?

Why claims rejected (1)

CrowdedBrainzzzsand9 (2000224) | about 2 years ago | (#39535063)

Claim 1: the social network of Fig. 1 whereby 'Facebook' is now 'Google+'.

Rejected: obviousness

Claim 2: the social photography network of Fig. 2 whereby 'Facebook' is now 'Google+".

Rejected: obviousness

Claim 3: the ghost profile of Fig. 3 whereby social misfits refuse to join Google+.

Rejected: because it's evil.

Social Networking in General ... (5, Insightful)

jabberwock (10206) | about 2 years ago | (#39535093)

... has done just an excellent job in separating out, among all my friends and acquaintances, those who want me to spend my life looking at their photographs or mouse-clicking through Zynga games. And it largely segregates them.

Works for me.

Re:Social Networking in General ... (0)

cardpuncher (713057) | about 2 years ago | (#39535451)

Indeed. They're really neediness networks designed for people who measure their self-worth in terms of the number of "friends" they are able to amass and then conveniently treat as a uniform herd of acolytes, agog to receive carefully-edited snippets of their alleged triumphs indiscrminately broadcast.

It's a lot easier to tell someone you've barely met, but wants to co-opt you, that you don't have an account than explain that you'd rather slit your wrists than bathe in the shit torrent pouring from their "social" orifice.

This move isn't designed to "convert anti-social-networking types", it's designed to increase the social pressure to conform with Google's masterplan. If the riposte to "I don't have an account" is "I can just set up a ghost account on your behalf", your only resort is to tell the absolute truth (something we generally try to avoid in truly social situations) or give in and get monetized.

When will the Damn Real Name Meme Die? (5, Informative)

fast turtle (1118037) | about 2 years ago | (#39535117)

I've been on G+ since it was incepted when the damn Meme about a real name started. Guess what. Google has never required a Real Name for it as long as you have a valid Log-In for their services. Those who only used GDocs/Gmail were fine. Even iGoogle (start page), Picasa or Google Groups worked if you had a log-in. The only service that has ever required a Real Name was Orkut due Brazil and the South American Problems. For EU/US/Asia, Orkut has been a non-starter as it's never been pushed for us to use it due to Picasa.

Re:When will the Damn Real Name Meme Die? (4, Informative)

Daetrin (576516) | about 2 years ago | (#39535207)

I've also been on G+ since it got started, and although i have managed to slip under the radar, several friends and people i know got nailed by the real name policy. Their algorithm for detecting "fake" names is crap, but the shit you have to deal with if you get targeted is real.

Re:When will the Damn Real Name Meme Die? (2)

subsoniq (652203) | about 2 years ago | (#39535485)

They revoked their real name policy a couple of months ago, you can use any name you want now.

Re:When will the Damn Real Name Meme Die? (4, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#39536011)

No they did not. What they did was revoke the requirement to share your real name with everybody else on google+. They still require it internally, they just let you use one or more fake names for interacting with other people. That's only a marginal improvement because the database is still just as much a risk to your security.

When will the Damn Holocaust Meme Die? (1)

pavon (30274) | about 2 years ago | (#39535353)

Sure the terms of service specifically state that you must use your real name in your G+ profile and there is documented evidence of Google shutting down G+ accounts due to fake names, and Google has stated in public that they will start allowing pseudonyms but only if they are already well-established. But I managed to use a fake name without getting caught so it must all be a bunch of blogosphere hype.

Re:When will the Damn Real Name Meme Die? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535941)

Tell that to people like Skud or GrrlScientist who had their accounts suspended.

Nice try, Google fanboi.

--
I value my privacy, so I NEVER use any Google product.

makes sense but patent? (1)

4wdloop (1031398) | about 2 years ago | (#39535129)

Smells again like the "single click" patent... However this is "grandparents" problem. I enjoy easy (lazy) Picassa album management but have parents that are not fb/g+/etc users and who want to look at pictures and rarely at my posts and never post anything... The "every person with link" distribution is good enough if I could create a group of "outsiders with emails"...

http://www.juegosgratisjuego.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535141)

but despite all google + is still a very useful tool for webmasters ...

Incognito mode for social networks (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#39535187)

Is somewhat a need, a lot of people could be already creating alternate profiles to not "pollute" their main ones.

The main problem i have with it is... well, a lot are already doing it (manually, without any ties to their main profile), so doesnt it count as prior art? Even slashdot's anonymous coward (and posting at it even if logged) could count as that. Well, that, and that you even having one of such ghost profiles, you are more easily traceable that having an alternate fake account.

So everyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535203)

So it creates ghost profiles for everyone not on Google+. So everyone in the world not employed by google? Wow I'm impressed.

It's only a problem because Google makes it one (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#39535217)

As a result, users that do not want to join the social network are forced to either join with reservations or miss out on the social component, such as viewing pictures.

Why should anyone have to join a social network to view a friend's pictures? The only way this "problem" can exist is when the owners of the social network try to force artificial restrictions on the network.

If I post anything on Facebook - text, pictures, whatever - I can flag it as public, or I can limit access to some arbitrary group. If I want to share photos with someone who's not on Facebook, I will just mark them "public" (in practice, I tend to post my photos elsewhere; but that's beside the point). I can't imagine Google+ doesn't allow this as well - so either their network is artificially restricted in an attempt to force people into some affiliation, or else they are being disingenuous in this patent defense.

Re:It's only a problem because Google makes it one (2)

Jon Howard (247978) | about 2 years ago | (#39535539)

Google plus does in fact allow photos/albums (maybe posts? I haven't checked) marked "public" to be viewed by anyone with the url.

Here are the first 99 photos from my trip to Death Valley last month, for example: https://plus.google.com/photos/114127672767084904209/albums/5718366559408412705 [google.com]

Re:It's only a problem because Google makes it one (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#39535795)

Yup, as expected your link works even though I'm not signed into my Google account (and I'm not a participant in Google+, regardless).

So they are indeed being intentionally disingenuous in their patent description - probably assuming the patent examiner won't know any better.

Re:It's only a problem because Google makes it one (4, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#39535593)

Duh, because people don't want to share with the public?

This is a way to limit access to those photos while at the same time giving access to people with a G+ account: they send you a private URL with which you can authenticate yourself without registering.

Re:It's only a problem because Google makes it one (1)

swillden (191260) | about 2 years ago | (#39535675)

If I want to share photos with someone who's not on Facebook, I will just mark them "public"

What if you don't want to make them public? E-mail is probably a good choice, but it's a little less convenient to share the same stuff via two mechanisms.

*facepalm* Who needs a patent? (1)

WWWWolf (2428) | about 2 years ago | (#39535225)

I have a G+ profile, but I don't post that much there.

If they'd just let me stick the RSS feeds from my blogs there, the profile just might be a little bit more useful, you know? Simple and effective. (Perhaps even integrate to Google Reader somehow. Let people see what I post. Let people see what I liked.)

Wait, such a brilliantly obvious idea is not patentable and Facebook already bought FriendFeed. *sigh*

Not So Secret Google Police (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535233)

Isn't this what normally a typical secret or regular police would do? Build a file on you?

Seriously, Google. Who wants to live in this kind of world?

Question (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#39535237)

Are they patenting this to stop it?

I read 'ghost profile' as a dummy login which cannot be traced to me on other services or in meatspace. As far as I can tell, that's been going on in numerous services for many years (so good luck with the prior art part of this). In some cases, setting up such dummy accounts requires establishing your alternate self (via the likes of throw away e-mail accounts) in a few other places. Given Google's preference for the use of real names, patenting this activity could be the first step in shutting it down on other sites, leaving users with nothing but their real selves exposed on various sites.

This Is Stupid (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 years ago | (#39535319)

A patent to create a file? With Dummy Data in it? I think the industry may have one or two examples floating around Google [slashdot.org] for that.

Hehe (5, Insightful)

Barny (103770) | about 2 years ago | (#39535399)

/me checks the date

Sunday April 01, @02:58AM

Yeah, it's already begun.

Re:Hehe (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#39535825)

Sorry, dude, but the linked patent was filed on September 27, 2011.

Re:Hehe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535989)

Even though the patent was filed earlier, the article is still a good early April Fools joke.

A matter of perspective. (2)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#39535417)

A problem arises when users of social networks are friends with people that are opposed to social networks. The second group misses out on an important social component. [emphasis mine]

Asserting that there is "a problem" or that non-members are "missing out" assumes your reference frame is the preferred -- and that's the real problem. In addition, while I'll agree that Facebook/Google+ may offer some sort of "social component", their importance is questionable. More to the point, I'd argue that they distract from real, live, more personal social interactions. Lastly, I find patent quote to be a little condescending to us "non-believers".

Exclude anonymous sharing; create ghost users (1)

mounthood (993037) | about 2 years ago | (#39535463)

Ghost users will solve the problem of unregistered users not being able to participate ... because G+ doesn't let unregistered users participate? Seems to me they had the same problem with Google Docs -- unregistered users couldn't see or edit a spreadsheet -- but they resolved that by making 'sharing' options.

This codifies the fact that Google (and Facebook, et al.) create a "profile" for every visit to their websites/services, and they don't know the names to go with those profiles.

This is Neccessary (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#39535483)

Because Social Networking is the pinnicle of human existence. There's really no other reason to exsist, and non-believers must be dragged, kicking and screaming if needed, into the fold.

fuckers (1)

Tom (822) | about 2 years ago | (#39535569)

users of social networks are friends with people that are opposed to social networks. The second group misses out on an important social component.

Time to delete my G+ profile. Seriously, how fucked up is this kind of thinking?

People who are ignorant of social networks may be "missing out" on something.
People who are opposed to social networks are not "missing out", they have opted out. They know what they are missing and have decided that they are better off without.

This is such a fucked-up mindset they are displaying, I don't even know any appropriate english words. It's just hostile to treat people who have intentionally decided against your product as if they were ignorant stupid little children who need to be helped along.

No, they don't. Maybe you think your product is the best thing since sliced bread, but that doesn't mean you are right nor that everyone who disagrees is an idiot.

Now excuse me, I need to find the "delete my profile and all its data" on Google Plus. Any bets that it will be either missing or carefully hidden?

Re:fuckers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535965)

I just did the same thing.
Click on your +UserName. Goto account settings. Scroll to bottom: Remove google+

Here's a better idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535697)

Allow the the social networker to generate URL to the photo that is accessible without a login.

I'm not going to patent this "invention." Feel free to use it.

Friend Fingerprint (2)

utkonos (2104836) | about 2 years ago | (#39535707)

I've often wondered how accurate of a fingerprint your selection of friends on a social network is. The reason I find this important is that I, like many people wish that I hadn't used my real name on any of my social networks. If I had been smart, I would have made an alias to at least make it slightly more difficult for the social network to pinpoint my real world identity.

But the damage is basically done, and this leads me to the reason I asked the question: knowing I can create a fake account through Tor, how many of my friends can I re-friend before the social network invisibly links my old and new account behind the scenes?

really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535741)

WTF is this all about?

collecting onfo without consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535779)

If i choose to use a handle and not input my real name 'Jhon Smith' e.g. flipper@gmail.com...

Then I send this address to my friends, who in turn put my name beside the address in their contacts page. it defeats the goal of ever using a handle.
If 2 or more friends who use gmail to flag my real name, then google, have my IP/login times/cookies and name (and a host of other unique identifiers)

but they don't know what i look like, my age, interests for sure, they can only guess if I choose not to join facebook or g+ or volunteer this info.
but once agains, google can use my friends can rat me out, by creating a 'ghost profile' for collecting the scraps of info that active users share about me, combined with the existing identifiable information I already have shared, google (or whoever) can build a full profile of me over time.

This profile is intended for market profiling etc. but should google fall on harder times and need to sell their assets, their most valuable asset is easily the info collected on each and every one of us.

It's the same for facebook, bing, dropbox and every other service on the net that offers something for nothing.

this shit is becoming unavoidable on the modern internet and after nearly 20 years online I'm increasingly tempted to pull the plug.

i missed this part (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39535783)

I think I missed the part where centralized data-scraping services have to be used in order to share pictures with your friends.

Could someone go over that part again?

Because I'm pretty sure I was doing that on the internet before Facebook and G+ came along, and it was working just fine.

Captcha: "oppose"

No, no. (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 2 years ago | (#39535961)

"The second group misses out on an important social component."

Fuck you, asshole. You don't get to define what I consider an "important" social component.

Prior art (1)

TeXMaster (593524) | about 2 years ago | (#39536093)

Joking and April's fools aside, this is something that FriendFeed has had since something like day 1, centuries before being bought up by Facebook: you could define "virtual friends" which, given the feed-based nature of FF as a social network, was just a collection of feeds.
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