F*ck You, Google

I use my private Gmail account to email my boyfriend and my mother. There's a BIG drop-off between them and my other "most frequent" contacts. You know who my third most frequent contact is. My abusive ex-husband.

Which is why it's SO EXCITING, Google, that you AUTOMATICALLY allowed all my most frequent contacts access to my Reader, including all the comments I've made on Reader items, usually shared with my boyfriend, who I had NO REASON to hide my current location or workplace from, and never did.

My other most frequent contacts? Other friends of Flint's.

Oh, also, people who email my ANONYMOUS blog account, which gets forwarded to my personal account. They are frequent contacts as well. Most of them, they are nice people. Some of them are probably nice but a little unbalanced and scary. A minority of them - but the minority that emails me the most, thus becoming FREQUENT - are psychotic men who think I deserve to be raped because I keep a blog about how I do not deserve to be raped, and this apparently causes the Hulk rage.

I can't block these people, because I never made a Google profile or Buzz profile, due to privacy concerns (apparently and resoundingly founded!). Which doesn't matter anyway, because every time I do block them, they are following me again in an hour. I'm hoping that they, like me, do not realise and are not intentionally following me, but that's the optimistic half of the glass. My pessimistic half is of the abyss, and it is staring back at you with a redolent stink-eye.

Oh, yes, I suppose I could opt out of Buzz - which I did when it was introduced, though that apparently has no effect on whether or not I am now using Buzz - but as soon as I did that, all sorts of new people were following me on my Reader! People I couldn't block, because I am not on Buzz!

Fuck you, Google. My privacy concerns are not trite. They are linked to my actual physical safety, and I will now have to spend the next few days maintaining that safety by continually knocking down followers as they pop up. A few days is how long I expect it will take before you either knock this shit off, or I delete every Google account I have ever had and use Bing out of fucking spite.

Fuck you, Google. You have destroyed over ten years of my goodwill and adoration, just so you could try and out-MySpace MySpace.

Harriet Jacobs is the nom de plume of the author of Fugitivus. She's a mid-20s white girl living in the Midwest, working at a non-profit that assists families and deals with a lot of racial politics. Harriet has had a fucked-up life, and Fugitivus

—fugitive—is her space to talk, where the fucked-up people who did the fucked-up things couldn't find her and be creepy.

Bad Valentine is our own special take on the beauty - and awkwardness - of geek love.


Comments

    Google is becoming pretty freaky.

    If u got that much drama happening online, maybe you should, you know, stay offline. Not be creating accounts to social network without knowing how to protect your privacy (ie. try removing contacts u dont want to see your online presence) geez. this isnt editor material, its just a public rant about something most people (who care about privacy) know.

      Dod you read the whole post? She said she never actually registered for Buzz, in fact she opted out of it when it first came out! And for that reason, she was unable to remove the ex-husband etc. from the followers list!

    Ok, I don't know what Buzz is doing in the US, but in Australia, I haven't had any of the privacy issues Gizmodo writers have been talking about.

    When I started using it a few days back:

    1. Only google "chat" people were automatically followed. These were people who already use gmail as their email client. This consisted of only 3 people.

    2. Only one person following me, which I think they had chosen to do.

    3. Was VERY easy to either stop following people, or block people from following me.

    4. No automatic broadcast of my email address (though no one has done @Nath XXXX yet, which is when I think the problem has occured)

    5. Very easy to switch google reader and my google profile (which I didn't really have til buzz) from "public" to "private".

    6. Re google reader, it even lets you very easily select exactly who you want to have follow you. You can make groups - Family, Friends, Co-workers, and add contacts in to them. Then you tell it which groups google should let see your reader.

    Indeed, my biggest problem with buzz is that it's just been rather boring. Not enough people are buzzing in my area(s) and when they do, it's all boring crap. There's one girl in my area who just buzzes "good morning", "at work" and even "good night" to PUBLIC. I assume she's linked twitter to buzz, because that sounds like the dumb crap twitter users would post.
    I mean, COME ON! I wanted to be able to open the buzz map and go "oh look, there's been an accident 2 blocks away, here's a pic." "ah this guy recommends this restaurant today, that's right next door, cool" "oh one of my mates is having coffee down the street, I'll see if he wants to catch up"

    Instead all it seems to be so far is people posting "good morning" and "it's raining" with a tag of their location attached. Snore!

    see the follow up post on the blog...the response she got from Google & the changes to Buzz because of it...

    Hey its not like she's saying "I added these guys as facebook friends and now they're stalking me"

    Automatically assuming that because you email people they are your friends, and such should be following you on Reader is injecting social networking into an application without your permission and can clearly cause some problems.

    A good rule, online or real-life, is to beware free gifts - and I consider free Google mail, facebook accounts, etc part of this.

    They (google and the like) are making money out of the "free" services and non-paying "clients" are a resource who have little legal recourse over changes in useage of client data by the service provider that clients have effectively agreed to "give" away in "consideration" for the service. Basically, if you want more say over your data, don't give it away; find/pay for a service that provides such protections.

    Its a sorry story but not surprising.

      Google has very few Product Managers and creates new products by testing them with users before giving them a full stamp of approval. Remember the pitfall misery that Gmail was when it went public Beta? Now look at it. It's the biggest and fastest-growing email host out there.

      The people responsible for Buzz obviously didn't think about privacy. It simply didn't occur to them. Was that a mistake? Yes. Will they make drastic improvements based on the user feedback they get, like they always do? Yes. Does this teach Google a lesson they will never forget during development of future social platforms? Yes. Will they be sued and have to settle with a few angry people like 100% of all mega-conglomerates do every day? Yes.

      It is clear none of you are Product Managers, thus you cannot understand the complexities of managing the development of such an enormous product. Nevertheless, Google will acquire more attention, it will grow, and it will earn more revenue whether you minority haters switch to Bing or not.

      We're lucky to live in a nation that supports open information exchange, and that we're not in China, where 50% of the internet is filtered/restricted.

      If every time a mega-conglomerate makes a mistake through one tiny little division and you get angry, you'll run out of mega-conglomerates you trust. With all your logic, you should also not trust Microsoft, Apple, and even open-source exchanges. If you don't trust any of them, good for you, why are you even on the internet right now?

    @Devz - Buzz was imposed on gMail users. We did not create any social networking account!

    I agree with Devz. Sounds like you need to re-evaluate your real life.

    A lot of Buzz coverage online is nothing more than poorly written stuff spreading FUD. I agree that the roll-out of Buzz was in-elegant and not done in the Google-y way of doing things. That apart, most articles have been simply wrong, factually speaking, in their coverage of what Buzz did and did not do, what it can and cannot do.

    I am totally unexposed by Buzz so far. I have two GMail accounts, but have managed to stay private. I had no public profile on Google. I did share some of my Google Reader items publicly. When Buzz came out, I did not use it immediately. Decided to wait and see. Good decision.

    Although Google shows me that I am following a bunch of contacts and they are following me, none of them can see anything I have shared on Reader, nor can they see any of my followers or people I follow. This is because I have not Buzzed or created a public profile. If / when I do either of those things, I will be sure to carefully tweak the settings to exactly what I want. So, for now, I am totally maintaining my privacy on Buzz.

    If you only use Gmail and never cared about your profile page, and you didn’t use Buzz, will you still be shown on other people’s profiles if they follow you?

    I don’t think you’ll be shown on other people’s profiles in this situation. I have never used Buzz myself and I have not created a Google profile. I checked all my followers who have public profiles. This is what I found:

    If I am NOT logged into Google and I go to my follower’s public profiles, I am not able to see any information about the people they are following or people who are following them.

    If I am logged into Google and I go to my follower’s public profiles, I could see the followers-following lists on some profiles, and not on others. I am guessing that some people are not displaying their followers-following lists on their profiles by tweaking some setting.

    If I am logged into my Google account and I go to my follower’s public profiles and they have chosen to display their followers-following lists, I can see full names on those lists. I can see the names of only people who have public profiles. I cannot see the names of followers-followees who don’t have public profiles.

    Here’re my conclusions as someone who doesn’t have a public Google profile and who has not used Buzz (so far):

    If you (and your followers-followees) have explicitly chosen to keep something private (or shared with only limited people), Google will not violate your settings.

    If you (and your followers-followees) have shared things publicly, regardless of whether you have done so deliberately or inadvertently, Buzz has made your content more easily displayable and discoverable. Repeat: you HAVE to FIRST choose to reveal things publicly before Google will reveal them to anybody.

    The case of the above now-infamous blogger is one of inadvertently sharing things publicly. For example, for a long time, she was sharing her Google Reader items publicly even though she really wanted to share them only with her boyfriend. There are ways in which she could have shared those items only with her boyfriend, but she went the public route. When Buzz came along, she was caught off-guard. Note that Google NEVER revealed anything about her that she didn't choose to make public herself.

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