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Schweb's Lounge Forum for general conversation, chit chat, or most topics that don't fit in another forum.

Does Google Know Too Much?


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mac57

 
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Following up on a response I just posted, consider this. Does Google know too much about you?

If you use Google Mail, Google is reading your email to target you with ads. It knows whats going on in your day to day life, to the extent that it is revealed in your email.

If you use Google Checkout, Google knows your buying habits. It knows what you like and what you don't.

If you use Google in its original form, as a search engine, it knows what your interests are, good and bad.

I think there is too much personal information being focused in one place. Google may be famous for their "do no evil" mantra, but I for one am opting out. Google is a great search engine and I will continue to use it for that, but as for the rest, I prefer my privacy.

Am I the only one worried about this?

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I got concerned a bit myself from all the controversy there was over it a while back, but in reality Google isn't doing anything the others aren't doing. If you shop Amazon or most any other online store, they keep track of your buying habits. Yahoo does targeted advertising based on the contents of your email. While there certainly is the potential for abuse, in reality this stuff is highly automated. No one is sitting down screening our activity by hand and saying "oooh... look at what John Boy here is into". Heck... even brick-and-mortar stores track your purchases. They don't give out those "Preferred Customer" cards out of goodwill. And even without those, they still track stuff by credit card number.

I can't say I really like any of it... on the surface it does seem a bit "Big Brotherish" to me, but I don't see a reason to single out Google over anyone else.
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As stated above if you use a credit card, debit card, sam's club or costco, own a cell phone, have an ISP, etc, etc... your privacy is being violated to some degree, and really not much you can do about it short of stuffing a backpack with the essentials and heading into the backcountry (which BTW is fantastic! )

So are you giving up email are together... if not... what's the difference? Just the advertising?
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How about analytics? Google is being trusted with a LOT. What other company would everyone trust with such sensitive information? Site owners are letting google know how people use their sites. It's pretty amazing.

You can also add money information to analytics, so they know how much people are spending, too. Now google knows how much you make online (regardless of payment processor!).

Which makes me wonder... if some company that used analytics in that way were to get busted by the IRS, can google get subpoenaed to give up financial data?

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Cherokee This gets my vote for most innovative thread on Mac-Forums... ever.
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As someone said to me...
"Going online is like shopping in new york city. If you go into a shop or look in a window, you may be seen by others. It's not private, get over it."

schweb This has to be one of the best threads ever in MF history...
Cherokee This gets my vote for most innovative thread on Mac-Forums... ever.
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I agree that nothing "nasty" seems to be being done with the info now, but the potential is there. So, I vigorously avoid online email systems like Google Mail, which scan my email contents. I avoid concentrating too much data about myself in any one place, like Google.

I agree that there is an ongoing assault on our privacy from everywhere, driven by the (near) evil of most effective placement of intrusive ads. I HATE intrusive ads, and do everything I can to avoid them.

No, I am not giving up email, but I do use a more traditional ISP delivered email, where (as far as I know) nothing and/or nobody is routinely scanning what passes through those boxes.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by giulio View Post
How about analytics? Google is being trusted with a LOT. What other company would everyone trust with such sensitive information? Site owners are letting google know how people use their sites. It's pretty amazing.

You can also add money information to analytics, so they know how much people are spending, too. Now google knows how much you make online (regardless of payment processor!).

Which makes me wonder... if some company that used analytics in that way were to get busted by the IRS, can google get subpoenaed to give up financial data?
Yes, Google Analytics scares the heck out of me. Talk about privacy invasion. If you watch the progress bar at the bottom of your browser screen, and if a web site is slow enough in responding, you will see that LOTS of your accesses are being passed through to Google Analytics.

Google really worries me. There is just too much knowledge being focused in one place. Sooner or later, "unfortunate" use or abuse of it will occur.

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I don't use Google anything. I use Yahoo for my mail and my search engine.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkLemonade View Post
I don't use Google anything. I use Yahoo for my mail and my search engine.
I am assuming that the thread is not entirely about just google but has drifted towards all of internet entities.. So you're habits are equally a target of this thread.

as for me though, I don't use any public e-mail except for the occasional use of my .mac account but all important data goes to my company e-mail that is stored on a server not available to the public.

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Let me shed a little light on what is really going on with your info, how it could actually help save you, and how you might get really scared.

You think Google has a lot of info? They can't hold a candle to one little company you've probably never even heard of. Check out the following link to an article to see what's really going on. Actually, if this kind of thing does worry you, then you probably don't want to read it.

The fact is that the only way to really protect your personal information is to go completely off "the grid": no credit cards, no internet, cash only purchases, cash paying job. Short of that, there's no way to avoid it.

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortu...2182/index.htm

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You go an watch the "Price is Right" and all the commercials are for older people. You watch the Sunday Night football game and every 3rd commercial is for Miller Light. The advertisers have just found a more direct way to sell you something.
Have Safari or Firefox erase your cookies and all those fine things at the end of each browsing session if you're really worried.
I am not into the big brother thing. I remember Google was the only search engine that was hesitant to toss all our search info over to the government, weren't they? I thought I read something a year or so back about that.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by bryphotoguy View Post
Have Safari or Firefox erase your cookies and all those fine things at the end of each browsing session if you're really worried.
I do just that! You may recall a script I published some weeks/months ago, called "clean". It is a Terminal.app bash script which cleans out all nature of tracking cookies, data caches, etc. I guess it just goes to show that I am not just worried about this stuff - I do try to take positive action to control it.

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One reason I use Firefox in OS X is because of the Customize Google extension that rips the heart out of Google's tracking cookies and blocks its ads.

I use the Preferences Bar extension with Firefox and with Mozilla 1.3.1 in OS 9 to easily turn off cookies and delete them, thereby breaking all the ad farms' tracking, not just Google's. The Adblock extension helps do the same thing; it's as though ad-farm (and their tracking cookies) URLs don't exist until a new one crops up.

Using the Prefbar extension, I also turn off the browsers' referrers (unless needed within a site).

I will not use PayPal under any circumstances, but I am very reluctant to purchase anything online, anyway (the last time I did so was years ago).

Browsers aren't alone, though, in tracking users. So does RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, BBEdit, TextWrangler and for all I know, QuickTime.
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How about iTunes? I'm guessing they track your purchases and would use it to advertise to you. I don't buy from iTunes, so I don't know for sure.

People view ad targeting as very negative; almost as if the ad companies ultimate goal is to annoy you. Their real goal is to learn what kind of things you are interested in and basically offer suggestions to you of products you might want. From that point of view, is it such a bad thing? Which would you prefer to see; ads of things you have no use for and care nothing about, or ads for things you may not know about and may have some interest in learning about? The goal of target advertising is to bring information on items to people who would be interested in buying them. If all it did was annoy people instead of effectively generating sales, it would have died out long ago. Just my 2 cents and a little devil's advocate.

In the long run, try to keep yourself out of databases of consumer information is like trying to fight a bee hive with one fly swatter.

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Probably more like fighting a bee hive with a toothpick.

Your info is VERY EASY to obtain by a multitude of entities.... The list is really endless. Want to pay cash for everything??? Great job, but good luck trying to get a mortgage... Don't want anyone to ever see your email?... The only safe thing to do is... do not use email. I won't even get into your SSN...

Not too much you can really do to stop it in this day and age... except for, as I mentioned above, pack up and head for the backcountry.
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