This was going to be a buzz but decided to it’d end up way too long so I figured I’d throw it up here. I just read a review that scathed and ranted about the privacy issues with the new Google Buzz. I haven’t exactly made up my mind yet on these things being the destroyer of worlds and the end of privacy as we know it…

I think it’s a good thing that I haven’t decided completely. It’s best not to shoot from the hip and do the research first I think and look at this in the entire perspective of online social media. So many people are just vomiting shit about Google Buzz regarding privacy issues.

I get it, I understand the GPS tracking via the phone app can be dangerous when it comes to protecting your personal information. I sure as heck don’t want people having my home address. But I wonder if people actually have thought about how easy it is to find your home address? For a few of the people who ranted about privacy on twitter, I did a bit of stalking research. Sure enough, it was hella easy to figure out not only their address but their home phone number and sometimes even birth dates.

If someone wants to find out information about you and you currently use your real name in the public eye, guess what? They will find you. Facebook is a wet dream for stalkers, phishers, and identity thieves. Not only do you give your name but your location, relationship status, birthdates, favorite color, favorite movies, favorite songs etc. And the worst part about it is that it’s all under the guise of gaining your old friends back and networking with new ones. There are tons of games you play on facebook that ask you to identify personal information about your friends… “how well do you know Mr. Smith.” “or “Which of these celebrities is most like Mr. Smith.” It’s a silly little, fun game you think you’re playing but in reality, it’s called personal data mining.

Most of the tech savvy people out there try to be as careful as possible with who they friend but seriously, when you’re mass adding your HS class and those handful of buddies from college and the co-workers you used to work with….it’s easy for any of those accounts to get compromised as I saw happen many times to friends on facebook…ie why is he inviting me to join a facebook group for pirated movies? Oh…he got hacked. You think it’s a closed secure walled garden but here’s the hard lesson I learned a long time ago…once you put information on the internet, it’s there forever. Delete it as many times as you want, but it’s out there.

Twitter is no better for sure but at least with twitter you are able use handles to protect your RL identity if you chose to do so although a lot of people don’t bother.

And this is where I get a little frustrated with the hypocrisy of the whole privacy issue. I’m crazy paranoid about protecting my RL identity. I even go above and beyond with very, very annoying hurdles that piss my photo happy acquaintances off. I don’t do this because I’m ashamed of who I am or that I think people actually give a shit but because I want the ability to keep the two separate. I like my privacy. I value the ability to be anonymous and not have two varying worlds collide when they clearly should not. I remember how annoyed some friends were that I would not friend them on my RL accounts. The funny thing was that it wasn’t to protect my RL ID but rather my meta from RL acquaintances like extended family, co-workers, and other people who just “don’t get me.”

I also feel like information and depth of a person should be revealed in layers depending on the quality of the relationship. That’s just me though. I’m extremely guarded. I can’t even trust a friendship is going to sustain unless it’s lasted for more than three years and even then, it’s still questionable. Meta-wise, we’re really all just great big ships passing in the night for the most part. It’s not the romantic way to think of relationships but sadly more true than not (eventually they all fade out).

Bah. Anyhow, this brings me to my point about social media and privacy. Truth is, if you want it, you can have my email address. My email address is put in more slots than [insert dirty joke]. In today’s social networking world and online consumerism, your email is like your virtual hand. If you don’t extend the hand, nothing happens. You don’t meet people, you don’t communicate, and you sure as hell can’t get anything worthwhile. Why are people suddenly pretending the “email” is the virgin mary? Email is made to be slutty folks.

And even more annoying from gmail users who are going off on the buzz privacy rant….uh, it’s free. I don’t remember seeing you pay for this service nor their search engine. It’s like when Facebook said fuck you guys, we’re changing the format up and you can’t do crap about it—-despite your One million against the new Facebook format groups. Google is exercising it’s right as the proprietary owner of their technology. I wonder if those gmail users have even read the terms of agreement when they created their gmail accounts. If auto-follow contacts scares the piss out of you, you should have ran for the hills before hitting “By clicking on ‘I accept’ below you are agreeing to the Terms of Service above and both the Program Policy and the Privacy Policy” when you read this:

“You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.”


“You acknowledge and agree that if Google disables access to your account, you may be prevented from accessing the Services, your account details or any files or other content which is contained in your account.”

Seriously man, some perspective please. That’s the part that pisses me off. I mean I get the auto-follow contacts, geo tracking bullshit stuff. I get it. But it’s your choice to use google. If you feel safer with yahoo or hotmail then don’t migrate..stay “safe”…lol.

If and when our secure content is spilled out like a horrific oil tanker disaster, I’ll be the first to pitch the forks and burn down google, trust me. But in this case, I feel like people are crying wolf without knowing what they’re looking at. I wanted to post this in google buzz to hear other people’s dialogue on the subject because I’m open to other perspectives but damn it was just too big (TWSS)!

update: speaking of security nightmares!

OMG. Check this article out about Pete Warden and what’s he’s about to do with 215 million Facebook profiles!

another update: crap, I forgot where I was even going with this initial post. I was responding in response to a critical review from an influential tech personality. Yeah, about that. It’s very easy to forget that the majority of us socnet users aren’t famous. Half the time, we’re lucky if anything we say gets feedback. *tap tap is this thing on?* is the general populations take on things like twitter, blogs, and chat tools. So it’s a bit unfair to compare “your” privacy issues and woes with people like us. Yeah, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston and top tv personalities might have some trouble using this as it would fill their inbox up overnight.

But even with the whole geotagging feature. I saw someone’s house today because of the geotag feature. It was neat, it was innocent. I get the feeling he’s not worried anyone is going to come knocking at his door. For those of us who interface in the meta innocently, it’s just awesome to have that kind of connection. And yes, you can’t be naive. I understand the dangers of exposing your home address but damn if it ain’t cool to use that street viewer and ask someone if they plan on changing the color of their shudders in the near future. Sharing doesn’t always have to be a dirty word. We’re not all out to get you and your precious information…it’s a shame that shit exists…so much lost potential.

I often wonder if the reviewer even thought much about the implications of buzz or even just the technology of “friendfeed” integrated into your mail service. It really does answer a lot of the problems we have with the antiquated format of communication called e-mail. We communicate differently. Just think about it… is e-mail even your primary source of communication via the web? Not for me for sure. We don’t write letters anymore, it’s often too cumbersome to mind dump, instead we opt more for conversations. E-mail should be treated more like open-ended conversations. Technology has advanced us the tools for this but maybe not everyone has fully adapted yet? Google buzz gives me the ability to have those flexible, flowing conversations rather than rigid one to one exchanges.