All Your Online Lives Are Belong To Us
February 16, 2010 12:05 PM   Subscribe

'It's optional if you want to remain anonymous, but what's the point anymore?' A new generation doesn't mind sharing every detail of their lives online. So familiar online companies increasingly don't bother letting you control privacy options from the start, and make it difficult to detach. Are the privacy-concerned folks mostly older individuals who don't see the benefits of connectedness? Or are the people who share just about everything lined up with a pro-corporate culture pushed by marketers?

Google Buzz's intro process has been changed, and Rick Webb replied regarding marketing and "living out loud" on the internet. Facebook is launching Project Titan, an email service that could help gather more information about users.
posted by cashman (128 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Privacy stopped existing about two decades ago. It's just getting harder to pretend these days.
posted by mek at 12:12 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am yet to regret my choice of username.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 12:14 PM on February 16, 2010


When Google Buzz first opened up, everyone I've ever e-mailed was given the option of following me. This includes people I e-mailed through my pseudonym Shii, which I've used for things like Wikipedia discussion and Internet forums. These people were given access to my real name, my Picasa Web photos, my YouTube videos, and my Blogspot blog.

A few hours after it opened I started getting e-mails about new comments being left on my photos, all from the same guy who had e-mailed me once about his Wikipedia ban. They started out with comments like "Awesome!" and "Nice job!" Then, on a picture of a girl I took on a date: "She's lovely!" On me talking with a college student: "Did you get her name?" Finally, a comment on a photo of me hugging a friend, whom I had identified in a blog post: "Lynn FTW".

Then he started leaving comments on my blog posts about my personal life and my videos, giving me vaguely Aspergers-influenced advice. He didn't respond to my e-mails asking him to stop. Thankfully, it seems like he wasn't a psycho, just a very strange person. But I had to meet with friends later that day with the thought of an Internet stalker heavy on my mind. If he had followed the link to my resume, he would have had my address and phone number (now removed). With a little guesswork he could have figured out my Facebook profile. Exactly how many steps removed was Google Buzz from a stranger waiting outside my door?

I closed my Buzz account and disabled my Google profile. I've had a taste of the Google future, and I don't like it.
posted by shii at 12:19 PM on February 16, 2010 [79 favorites]


I live by a simple rule: Don't do anything on the internet that you wouldn't want somebody knowing about.
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:19 PM on February 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


I think it'll be absolutely fascinating when the 'live-out-loud' generation starts to hit their late 30s or so, when we start to be aware of people as candidates for public office.

How, as a culture, are we doing to deal with that? Will we start to accept a certain peccadillo level without blinking, or will only the most privacy-conscious of former teens be eligible to become politicians?

Will we have to draw the respectability line based on the age of the equine prostitute off of whose hindquarters the candidate snorted the cocaine?
posted by gurple at 12:19 PM on February 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


How could Google have known that social network users would be concerned about their privacy?

Oh... right.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:20 PM on February 16, 2010


Starting that goat farm in Fiji is looking better and better every day.
posted by lholladay at 12:20 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


A few weeks ago, I realized my Metafilter name plus some of the stuff I've said here meant I probably couldn't run for any significant public office.

Then I realized that my social awkwardness and aversion to actually leading meant that it wasn't in the cards to begin with. That cheered meh'd me right up.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:21 PM on February 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


I live by a simple rule: Don't do anything on the internet that you wouldn't want somebody knowing about.
posted by Jon_Evil at 3:19 PM on February 16

That works for now. But basically things, as Buzz showed us, are creeping toward "Don't do anything, anywhere, that you don't want everyone to know about immediately."
posted by Damn That Television at 12:21 PM on February 16, 2010 [15 favorites]


Bruce Schneier had a link on his blog a couple weeks ago to a paper I had not seen that people might find interesting: "I've got nothing to hide" and other misunderstandings of privacy by Daniel J. Solove. Solove is a law prof.
posted by bukvich at 12:23 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Like expose all the hooks into your financial records (passwords, account numbers etc), where and what you bought, who your various correspondents, confidants and family are?

Now, I know Google didn't just expose all that... but they broke the trust I had in them keeping my inbox and sent item information buried in a server with algorithms scanning it to display targeted ads at most.

That was the promise, and they crossed a small but slipperly line.
posted by vectr at 12:26 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


(In reply to: "I live by a simple rule: Don't do anything on the internet that you wouldn't want somebody knowing about.")
posted by vectr at 12:27 PM on February 16, 2010


I don't have a problem with people knowing who I am. I use a pseudonym online for convenience and style distinction, not for privacy. It's similar to a well-known author wanting to write in a different genre so they adopt a different name.

The issue is with the fuzzy domains of ownership of content, and because content and persona is so tightly intertwined, what am I online but a collection of dribs and drabs littered across these services? There seem to be a lot more caveats with "free" services than with paid services. Perhaps it has something to do with the magazine model of finance.

You, the audience, can go fuck yourself. Your subscription fee covers postage.

You, the advertisers, we love you! These are the ones who allow the magazine to operate.

Suddenly, the advertisers are the primary client and the users secondary, though the former relies on the latter. Twitter seems to have dodged this for the time being by collecting VC funding, but the VCs want to get their money back somehow, someway, someday.

Attached to that is the joy of seeing that I have one hundred, two hundred, three hundred friends on Facebook! I'm popular! Look, I have an audience! Social media dovetails nicely with being sold that you're a celebrity.

Disclosure: I'm a Twitter Shitter so don't take me too seriously.
posted by burnfirewalls at 12:30 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


"a small but slipperly line."
Apologies MeFi... badly mixing up metaphors, not knowing the correct markup for small type and multiple comments in a row

posted by vectr at 12:31 PM on February 16, 2010


"But Facebook messaging is also only indirectly linked to the email, which is still the standard way that people exchange digital messages when not on Facebook."

The email? You don't say!

Though huzzah for POP/IMAP support, this'll reduce the amount of time I have to spend on that godforsaken site.
posted by Devika at 12:33 PM on February 16, 2010


Privacy stopped existing about two decades ago. It's just getting harder to pretend these days.

Maybe in the city. If you get out in the sticks and work in a cash-based, non-technological society like a vast number of people (that clearly aren't MeFites) then you can remain largely anonymous.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:38 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another aspect that I don't see get discussed that frequency, is that certain people have a much higher need for privacy than others.

I feel a twinge, sometimes, talking about being in a polyamorous relationship or being bisexual on a forum that could, at some future point, be directly linked to my real life. I try to calm myself by saying that I wouldn't want to be friends with or hired by someone who couldn't accept that about me, but of course life isn't always that simple. For instance, I have young cousins with very catholic parents that I probably wouldn't get to see any more if one of them decided to google-stalk me.

So while I'm actually sympathetic to the idea of living a more public life, I have some reservations. Having something to hide != having done something wrong.
posted by shaun uh at 12:40 PM on February 16, 2010 [17 favorites]


We all remember when we weren't allowed to tell anyone our real on the Internet... or where we were from. How many Lifetime movies have we seen about Internet predators? Are chat rooms considered inherently dangerous? I'd like to wait a bit and see if this all doesn't seem totally benign in a couple of years. The overabundance of information available about any individual may desensitize us to it eventually, creating a social contract where Googling someone is tantamount to stalking them or something.

However, I do know that my therapist was suggested as someone I might want to share my Google Reader posts with.
posted by citywolf at 12:41 PM on February 16, 2010


I actually went into a bank the other day. Even though it was I that was physically entering their space, I felt so intruded upon! As soon as I stepped in, everybody there was instantly able to read my gender, height, weight, hair color, eye color, even my shoe size! It was so invasive. They could make assumptions about my socioeconomic status, age, and other really important, PRIVATE information. It was mortifying knowing that I would then have to trust them with the quantitative raw data about how much I'm worth. I was tempted to just cash the check and run screaming.

And it only got worse. I opened my mouth to speak and I can only imagine that they could tell where I was from the second I asked for a pen. I remember dreading wearing a dress, for the skin on my legs and arms was showing. It wouldn't be necessary to check any boxes about my ethnicity or background (and I felt the wave of relief when I looked around and saw that there were none). But they knew my face. From multiple angles. The way it moved and all of the little details that I had no control over. It was worse than a thousand pictures. I longed for a 2-dimensional pixel disguise.

I remember as I left, it occurred to me that not only could I not protect myself from all the prying eyes on my very being, but my things...my very clothing and accessories...were leaking the cherished details about my life I've tried so hard to protect. Brand names as identity markers. Beads of sweat pushing through the very fibers of my meticulously selected day's cloaking. I wrung my unringed hands and tried to inconspicuously shuffle to a mass transit station, hiding my face status, so nobody would know how I really felt inside.

When I got home, I wept. For all of those who were making large purchases. I prayed they got home safely. And for those with children...I cried for them too, knowing how every moment in public was one where they would be exposed to a harsh, prying world.

I spent the rest of the evening, rocking back and forth in a chair, comforted by a warm blue glow.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:42 PM on February 16, 2010 [43 favorites]


I never imagined it would be stated to nakedly before "The short version: living in public makes you less likely to be a hypocrite. "

Of course this is completely ridiculous. But what is more interesting is how anathema hypocrisy is perceived to be. So what if someone is a hypocrite? If they are taking a position that renders them a hypocrite, you still have to address the argument on the merits, right?

Hypocrisy is part of that unholy trinity - lying, racism, and hypocrisy - that only kids care about. The great charge against the last administration was that "BUSH LIED" - not that he fucked up, not that he was incompetent, but that he lied. It's so much about what teenagers resent in their parents - "Why can't I drink at parties if you did when you were my age?" Etc. What is disappointing is that adults are basing their opinions about important rights on these superficial things. Guess what kids, life is very often more complicated than a thought encapsulated in a 140 character text.

In fact, the person who takes this position - that being online publicly - like this Rick Webb guy, only do so because they feel they are in the majority, or that they are in the norm.

The reasons for privacy are obvious, and they are the same as they have always been - protection from the majority. If I have a legitimate grievance against my government or some dominant group, does the lack of privacy really help me? How about whistleblowers? How about workers who want to organize a union? All that was and is done in secret before it goes public.

Furthermore, we are only in the first generation of this. I can't wait for a decade or two when kids confront their parents with something incriminating from their teenage past.

For the entirety of human civilization life has been lived in private. Now we are supposed to cast that aside? For what? A few points on google's stock price? So some shlub can stalk a pretty girl, or get lots of followers for his twitter account so he can promote some bullshit to them?

People were able to fall in love, network for jobs, and form larger social bonds, all before the internet. So the benefit of living publicly cannot be described in these terms. The fact is that privacy is the norm. So living "publicly" should be strictly opt-in, not opt out.

ASIDE: I know mathowie has written somewhere here about how he thinks people writing behind aliases are silly or stupid, or that its unnecessary. (I can't seem to find it now.) I can't think of anything I disagree with anyone more about.

If you don't have some mechanism to enable total privacy, than you have the effect of blacking out parts of society that are influential, important, and otherwise impenetrable. Without anonymity, very few qualified professionals, like doctors or lawyers, are going to give advice in places like AskMe.

More importantly, once you know that people are living publicly, you make it easy to mine that data. "So Ms. JobApplicant, I see you spent 74 hours last year posting to metafilter during the hours of 9-5 on M-F. Why should I hire you when you are going to be physically present but mentally absent two weeks a year?"
posted by Pastabagel at 12:49 PM on February 16, 2010 [27 favorites]


So, this has been on my mind for quite some time, and Buzz may be the straw to break the camel's back: What's a good alternative to gmail? I wouldn't mind paying something like ~5 euros per month for decent service. My other plan was to set up a mail server at home for use by the extended family, but it sounds like too much of a hassle.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:50 PM on February 16, 2010


I spent the rest of the evening, rocking back and forth in a chair, comforted by a warm blue glow.

Kim, I am usually on board with your viewpoints, but I think you've missed by a rather wide amount the issue being presented here.

It's not that you would be identified walking into the bank, it's that your previous locations, your future destinations, your employers, friends, references, all of that -- are presented right there with you.

I'm not foolish enough to believe that privacy can even exist anymore; not in a city, not in any form of modern commerce. But even there I'm still able to say -- all of my actions, all my activities, codified and available to anyone at a moment's glance? It's a bit heady.
posted by cavalier at 12:51 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Google Opt Out Feature Lets Users Protect Privacy By Moving To Remote Village (The Onion loudish Flash video)
posted by meowzilla at 12:53 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


You are, indeed, Kim, you are.

Your point is a good one. It is very hard to see how this will all become even within, say, 10 years. Privacy is not an identifiable carapace, it is an unspoken contract, written in use and convention. The consequences today of being outed as gay are not comparable to the consequences 100 years ago (at least where I live), and so the significance of actions that might reveal some such has changed. The consequences of snorting cocaine of a hooker's ass are, presumably, changing too.
posted by fcummins at 12:59 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Micro-Ask Mefi here -- can somebody with a clue help me out?

If I said "no" when they asked me to join Buzz, do I have any presence there to worry about? Is there a "profile" for me to go get rid of if I don't want it? Or did saying "no" protect me from having anything to do with it?

I'd go check but I figure I'd have to "join" to check.
posted by edheil at 1:01 PM on February 16, 2010


I think it'll be absolutely fascinating when the 'live-out-loud' generation starts to hit their late 30s or so, when we start to be aware of people as candidates for public office.

How, as a culture, are we doing to deal with that?


Is there even the slightest question that the ubiquity of social networking and its concomitant embarrassments among members of this generation will be used by the boomers as a tool to maintain their own grip on power well into senility?
posted by enn at 1:01 PM on February 16, 2010


I live by a simple rule: Don't do anything on the internet that you wouldn't want somebody knowing about.
posted by Jon_Evil at 3:19 PM on February 16


Not to single you out, but this notion, and it's corollary "I've got nothing to hide," are the stupidest things written about this subject. The whole appeal of the social internet was that it was liberating - not only could you be your true self, you could be anyone you wanted. This was possible because it was extremely difficult to tie a virtual identity to your real life one.

This suggest living a conforming, repressed life. First, for anything you do online, there is someone in your life who wishes you didn't. Second, everyone has something to hide.

Pushing back the boudaries of freedom requires people on the other side of that boundary pulling it as you push. The struggle for freedom is impossible without them, and they are the one's putting their lives at risk. Every black person in the front of a 1960's southern bus, every peacenik during Vietnam, every gay couple living under the spectre of sodomy laws, every pothead calling for legalization is a criminal in the eyes of the law. In order to change the laws, justice demands that they be protected from enforcement of unjust laws. And that requires privacy.

The fact that your credit and miedical histories are available to the highest bidder is not a justification to open up the rest of my life. It should be held up as an anomaly that dcemands correction back to the norm.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:02 PM on February 16, 2010 [21 favorites]


I think my attempt at levity was more of a brain fart.

This privacy issue is of particular importance to me too, and I agree with much of the sentiment in the links of the post and the comments here. Lately I've been struggling a lot with how much to put out there and have been trying to become more aware of my social network involvement. Much the same way that awareness of the food you put in your body has a big impact on your physical health, control and awareness of aspects of your identity is crucial to your mental and emotional stability and well-being. The need for online privacy from stalkers, family or other entities, as expressed in the FPP links is definitely something I unfortunately can relate to (as I'm sure many, many others unfortunately do too). As of late, I've deleted my Facebook...I go back and forth with my blog...and generally I'm just bouncing around various extremes until (hopefully) I settle on something I'm comfortable with as the social landscape dramatically changes. Until then, waffling. Or maybe just waffles. And a blue glow.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:08 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


to live out loud

When people use this phrase, it makes me want to smack them.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:15 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Starting that goat farm in Fiji is looking better and better every day.

Not to rain on your parade or anything...
posted by Pollomacho at 1:15 PM on February 16, 2010


I live by a simple rule: Don't do anything on the internet that you wouldn't want somebody knowing about.

I wonder if you would have formulated that rule if you had a mental condition you wished to keep private, and also needed support for its treatment.

---

And pretty much everything Pastabagel wrote.

When you plant a seed, you don't dig it up every thirty minutes to monitor its growth. That's called fucking with it. And there are delicate human interactions which shouldn't be exposed to the eyes of others. We show our vulnerabilities selectively. If we could expose them at all times, they wouldn't be vulnerabilities to begin with.
posted by BigSky at 1:19 PM on February 16, 2010 [20 favorites]


I was kind of an insufferable teenager, in a lot of ways. Myself now and myself then would not get along very well, at all. Not just in terms of maturity -- I'm a different sort of person than I was then. The stuff I felt passionate about back then is either unimportant to me now, or downright distasteful, or both.

I'm glad that only a dozen or so people that I still care about have much knowledge of the kind of person that I was back then. And that those people can't easily have their memories refreshed by reading my writings and watching video of me from that era.
posted by gurple at 1:23 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


When Google Buzz first opened up, everyone I've ever e-mailed was given the option of following me. [...] These people were given access to my real name, my Picasa Web photos, my YouTube videos, and my Blogspot blog.

Yeah, not quite. There's a missing step in that, and it's being missed out by everybody making histrionic blog posts about this. What happened was those people were invited to follow you. When you created your Buzz public profile, which you gave Google permission to do, those people were given access to your real name, etc etc ...

The first time you use Buzz, you're told you have to create a public profile to use it. Even in the early, not-as-explicit-as-now, warning box there was a link to a page explaining the ramifications. I made my profile public knowing exactly what would result. Google didn't invade your privacy, they just invited you to let the troops in.

I don't think Google handled the Buzz launch nearly as badly as a lot of quarters would like to make out. If you didn't publish anything, there wasn't anything for your "followers" to follow -- you just appeared as one of "and x users without public profiles" in the following list.

Compare this to Facebook's last privacy revamp, btw, which did force you to expose your name, profile pic and contacts to the world. They're much worse than Google at pushing the privacy envelope, and now they're launching an email service? Jesus.

Another, more baffling angle is the "oh noes, Google is making public things ... public" bit. Like the woman who said she felt threatened because personally identifying information in her public shared items was now being read, by the public. Likewise shii's resume. Er, hello, this is Google. Their whole game is to burrow into the darkest, remotest corners of the internet and expose what's there.

If you make things public on the internet, Google's going to find out about them, and it's going to tell other people about them. This isn't some startling revelation. Nor is the idea that security by obscurity is bunk.

Now, to be clear, I don't much like the modern state of privacy, and I especially don't like the virtually nonexistent protections of my privacy under US law compared to EU. But there's a difference between privacy violations of that sort, and privacy violations of the sort caused by me actively clicking "Yes! Create my public profile now!".

If someone does the latter -– especially if they're someone for whom privacy is paramount -- they don't later get to come along and say "they just exposed all my data and I didn't have a say in it! Google are evil!" Because there's CCTV that shows the baby was with them all the time.
posted by bonaldi at 1:34 PM on February 16, 2010 [10 favorites]


I think it'll be absolutely fascinating when the 'live-out-loud' generation starts to hit their late 30s or so, when we start to be aware of people as candidates for public office.

How, as a culture, are we doing to deal with that?


I rather like the idea that, upon realizing that we've all exposed parts of ourselves to the public that we would find embarassing, everybody laughs and chills the fuck out about things that nobody has any right to be uptight or judgmental about anyway.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:36 PM on February 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


I wonder, how many people in the "live out loud" camp grew up in small towns or rural communities where everyone was all up in your business all the time? Because I did, and it sucked.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:37 PM on February 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


Yeah, well, I'm quite attached to my privacy. Mainly because I know I'm a nosy bugger with a decent knack for digging up stuff people want hidden and I assume everyone else is too.

So I don't do The Facebook,which means there are a bunch of people I haven't connected with [which isn't itself a great tragedy]. But I'm acutely aware that if I were a five years younger I'd be missing out on a lot by not connecting with my friends via social networks. It's not just that The Youth of Today don't care for their privacy - they really don't get much of a choice to opt out.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:38 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are varying needs for privacy on the internet. Speaking as someone who had to screen her phone calls for six years because of an internet stalker, I have to say that I am not thrilled about this brave new world.
posted by winna at 1:40 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I actually went into a bank the other day. Even though it was I that was physically entering their space, I felt so intruded upon! As soon as I stepped in, everybody there was instantly able to read my gender, height, weight, hair color, eye color, even my shoe size! It was so invasive.

CLAP, Clap, clap. Very good. Now imagine that each of those people you met took a snapshot of you that captured all that metadata about you & inserted it into a database of people they'd met. Your personal identifiers, characteristics, actions & words all collected, processed & made available for search, analysis, datamining & sale or trade. How would your habits & attitudes towards going out in public change then? I think we'd see a surge in use of protective headgear & camouflaging clothes.

We don't guard ourselves from showing ourselves in person because the information is mostly ephemeral, limited to what people remember about us. But when ephemeral exposure becomes permanent record, new patterns emerge.
posted by scalefree at 1:53 PM on February 16, 2010 [16 favorites]


I live by a simple rule: Don't do anything on the internet that you wouldn't want somebody knowing about.

Don't be a union organizer. Don't be a whistleblower. Don't offer "lay" advice in your field of expertise. Don't stand up for anyone who is unpopular. Don't comfort a victim of trauma by sharing your own very personal traumatic story. Don't ask questions about sex or any other embarrassing topic. Don't participate in an investigation of powerful people or corporations. Don't put out feelers for other job opportunities when you've already got a job. Don't tell jokes that would offend your mother or your boss or your grandma's minister or your ten-year-old nephew or your next-door neighbor. Don't criticize the government. Never write a love letter more personal than a Hallmark Greeting Card.

Just conform. You'll have nothing to worry about.
posted by straight at 1:54 PM on February 16, 2010 [91 favorites]


If you already have a google profile that you use with gchat I think that you do not see these screens when you first turn buzz on. Now arguably that information was googleable and public beforehand, but it wasn't one click away for people who are mostly business contacts. It also isn't clear that letting one see your profile gives them access to your address book if you don't see those screens. (Possibly this is explained in those splash screens which I didn't see/notice.) One of the things I like (amongst the many things I hate) about Facebook's setup is that I can see what my profile looks like to someone else in the privacy settings.
posted by edbles at 1:54 PM on February 16, 2010


Didn't take long for the first flaw to be discovered in buzz - explanation and screenshot here. Note that it seems to be fixed as of my posting this, but this is pretty basic webappsec 101 here. Missteps abound with buzz it seems.
posted by cloax at 1:56 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]




I have no problem standing by what I've written on the web, even the more knuckleheaded stuff I'm a little embarrassed by now. In an email, forum or face-to-face conversation with somebody that I have some sort of relationship with I'll discuss what I've said in the past online.

My concern is the occasion when somebody I don't yet have a relationship with in the real world Google searches something I've said or done and takes it out of context without my knowledge or chance to discuss further. In most instances it's not that important to me what a stranger thinks, but it is if that stranger is a prospective employer who doesn't like my political or religious views and takes me out of the equation without a chance to meet me. The Google search can take the dialogue out of the process. I have no clue what my future career choices might include, but there's a chance it might end up being somewhere where a liberal atheist smart-ass isn't the first choice to talk to.

The genie is part way out of the bottle, and it's only a matter of time before it's fully out. And it won't be the end of the world, but I think it will add several more layers of confusion to future personal relations. I have an internet persona in name only - the personality and values are the same as the real life me. But the job interview me is a little more conservative and a little less "fuck em if they can't take a joke". Who knows, maybe a prospective empolyer will search me and find out that I'm a fellow Naked Raygun fan that also hates Jim Belushi and call me in for an interviewer. I think that's unlikely, but not out of the question tht it could work both ways.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:06 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I live by a simple rule: Don't do anything on the internet that you wouldn't want somebody knowing about.


I think it's more about not being caught doing something that anyone could post about you on the internet. My daughter has countless friends that think nothing of posting a picture of her, with tags and captions telling the entire world about the event.
posted by alfanut at 2:17 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I live by a simple rule: Don't do anything on the internet that you wouldn't want somebody knowing about.

That doesn't protect you from "live out loud" friends Tweeting your location or things you've just said aloud without your knowledge or tagging your real name to online photos.
posted by cadge at 2:20 PM on February 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


My own experience is that slogans like "if you've got nothing to hide, what's the problem?" are dreamed up by things like law agencies and marketing firms, adopted as excuses by those who find it easier to go along than buck the system, and then - once the rationalization has been fully integrated into their thought process - it becomes an outright accusation against those who choose resistance as their own prerogative.
posted by squeakyfromme at 2:22 PM on February 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


What happened was those people were invited to follow you. When you created your Buzz public profile, which you gave Google permission to do, those people were given access to your real name, etc etc ...

Well, I assumed that it would work like Twitter, where I tell my friends my username and then they follow me. I guess that means I've left the world of intelligent tech people and joined the realm of "normals". Serves me right for not majoring in CS...
posted by shii at 2:27 PM on February 16, 2010


or will only the most privacy-conscious of former teens be eligible to become politicians?

I was thinking on this recently, and the cyberpunk part of my soul thinks that one day, you might be able to hire a cutter who can go into different networks and excise parts of your history that you'd rather just quietly went away before exposing yourself to a scrutinizing public.

I like to imagine that it will be expensive, highly illegal, and never perfect.
posted by quin at 2:29 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Great, now everyone knows I'm a dog.
posted by Challahtronix at 2:37 PM on February 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


quin: I like to imagine that it will be expensive, highly illegal, and never perfect.

That sounds like politics already!
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:41 PM on February 16, 2010


In the future, you'll still Google people you do business with. You'll know the real freaks by the lack of hits. Either they're a luddite, or hired a cutter to hide something awful.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:44 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was thinking on this recently, and the cyberpunk part of my soul thinks that one day, you might be able to hire a cutter who can go into different networks and excise parts of your history that you'd rather just quietly went away before exposing yourself to a scrutinizing public.

Or you could hire the same person to go in and plant entirely fictitious stuff... about either yourself or your enemies.
posted by edgeways at 2:49 PM on February 16, 2010


Another aspect that I don't see get discussed that frequency, is that certain people have a much higher need for privacy than others.

This is something my girlfriend and I disagree on pretty fundamentally. I've had an online presence for well over a decade now and, in spite of some teenaged missteps, there is nothing online that I am too embarrassed to have my name attached to it. She on the other hand has done everything in her power to ensure that putting her name into google comes up with pretty much nothing. I'd say we're both equally aware of the consequences and systems behind things like facebook: I just don't mind that much and she does. It's a shame that people who are very wary of online interactions/datamining/sharing are being singled out by 'social' applications like facebook that demand more and more information. I was amazed to find out recently that to get a new gmail account, you need to put in an active mobile phone number and if you don't have one, Google suggest you borrow a friend's phone. In spite of my moderate openness in sharing stuff online, my phone number being required for a free e-mail account is pushing it. This trend for more 'real world information' that is required for online interactions is only going to increase. I like talking to the people behind online nicknames but I like it to be their choice to share.

Anonymity is great for individuals but it's less great for companies trying to make money through market research. Guess who usually ends up winning?
posted by slimepuppy at 2:50 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's no such thing as a free lunch. All these services are definitely opt-in. Their terms of service allow them to change their policies at will. Don't like that? Don't sign up.

I'm more worried about the fact that part of our society seems to expect that we behave in this cavalier manner with our personal information, that not doing so is to single oneself out from "the norm".
posted by spherical_perceptions at 3:00 PM on February 16, 2010


spherical_perceptions: "I'm more worried about the fact that part of our society seems to expect that we behave in this cavalier manner with our personal information, that not doing so is to single oneself out from "the norm"."

Hear, hear. I maintain a fairly limited online presence in comparison to a lot of people in my demographic and am afraid that before too long I'll seem like a loon. The only thing that keeps me from deleting my Facebook account is fear of being ostracized by other students/teachers in my program. No social networking = no networking.
posted by Roman Graves at 3:18 PM on February 16, 2010


Hypocrisy is part of that unholy trinity - lying, racism, and hypocrisy - that only kids care about.

Well spoken, but there's one important counter to the anti-hypocrisy rationale that no one seems to have addressed yet: in what way does exposing once-hidden details about ourselves suddenly eliminate or even reduce the likelihood of hypocrisy? Sure, people can tag photos they've uploaded with your name and what not, but the vast majority of information about most individuals on a social networking site comes from the individual themselves!

Are we meant to suddenly believe that just because someone logs every meal they've had, charts their gaming progress level-by-level for all the www to see, etc. that they're just as likely to offer up the fact that they have a drug habit, enjoy group sex, or once were in a gang that joykilled homeless people just because - hey - they've been open about all this other, less important stuff?!

On the contrary: people that are ashamed to some extent about some aspect of themselves are typically hypocritical not just to others, but also to themselves. It's called rationalizing and it's the most common way that human beings deal with cognitive dissonance. The idea that social-networking sites function as unconditional support groups that encourage people to get things off their chest completely free of judgment seems to presuppose that one's online personality is somehow less likely to demean, persecute, abuse, etc than what that same person would be capable of in the flesh-and-blood world. Actually, fuck it, Rick Webb's entire thesis is based on one indefensible presupposition after another and it's really not worth addressing each one bullet point by bullet point.
posted by squeakyfromme at 3:23 PM on February 16, 2010


All these services are definitely opt-in.

No offense, but have you read anything about Google Buzz?
posted by naju at 3:28 PM on February 16, 2010


Second, Buzz will no longer connect your public Picasa Web Albums and Google Reader shared items automatically. Just to be clear: Buzz only automatically connected content that was already public, so if you had previously shared photos in an "Unlisted" album or set your Google Reader shared items as "Protected," no one except the people you'd explicitly allowed to see your stuff has been able to see it. But due to your feedback Buzz will no longer connect these sites automatically.

posted by lazaruslong at 3:37 PM on February 16, 2010


A little less privacy - what could go wrong? Here's a story that happened two months ago where I live. Guy works at a child care centre. He likes his job, he's good, the kids like him. Some of the parents check him out, just to be sure.

On his Facebook page they find a photo of him wearing a hat with the text "Porn star". They don't like that and call his boss. The boss doesn't tell the snooping parents to mind their own business - she immediately terminates the guy.

It was just a hat with a silly text - and he never wore it at work, with the kids. When the papers ask, the boss says that they were very happy with the guy's work, no complaints whatsoever, etc. Still: fired two days before Christmas, lost his flat since he couldn't pay the rent.

It's not just technology I worry about here, it's what has happened with people's attitudes.

You don't need to worry if you have nothing to hide? Sure. But since you can't predict what will come back and bite you in the ass, you better keep a very low profile. So low that the life in a strict, pious, witch-burning 17th century town will be "the good old days" to you.
posted by Termite at 3:37 PM on February 16, 2010 [13 favorites]


No offense, but have you read anything about Google Buzz?
Yeah, but the fact that bloggers are screaming about it being opt-out and somehow mandatory doesn't make it actually true. Buzz is opt-in; it works in exactly the same way as Facebook currently does (yes, including pre-populated followers if they have your email address).

The thing they did wrong was to be unclear about exactly what you were signing up for (but it was only "unclear" in the sense that you had to read a little bit of text to find out the score; they weren't exactly hiding it).

I don't know what's behind this mass misinformation ... oh, wait, I know exactly what's behind it: lazy tech journalists and bloggers desperate for a ratings-boosting Google-fucks-your-privacy-again fearmongering scoop grabbing the first mump that floats by and proclaiming it as fact. God I hate tech journalism.
posted by bonaldi at 3:40 PM on February 16, 2010


spherical_perceptions: All these services are definitely opt-in.

naju: No offense, but have you read anything about Google Buzz?


You would only have been affected by the Buzz debacle if you had signed up for Gmail or had a Google Account, that was unambiguously an opt-in action. I'm pretty sure their terms of service included provisions (*) for a Buzz-like service.

(*) Or if they didn't, they probably sure do now, given their power to unilaterally redact them without appeal.
posted by spherical_perceptions at 3:41 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


First, Google's official blog has used the words "opt out" several times to describe the service in relation to Gmail, and I'm inclined to believe them. Second, I've had to read the Google privacy policy very carefully for my job, and unfortunately it's vague enough that just about anything would potentially fly, particularly with what's defined as "personal information." So the policies should've gotten more scrutiny before now, definitely, but no one can really say "I expected exactly this to happen when I joined Google's beta email service in 2004!"
posted by naju at 3:50 PM on February 16, 2010


Anyone defending Google saying "OH YOU HAD TO OPT-IN TO BUZZ" is being amazingly willfully ignorant. There are too many bullshit privacy landmines in Buzz to even begin to count.

Google knew this. There is no way that the smartest tech and search people did not know this. What they did was say "Well, people will be pissed as hell, but most won't even realize what's going on, and we can give ourselves an inflated start userbase."

I have defended Google since 2002. They have countlessly made the very best services, often by such a wide margin that they make their competitors look like idiots. But god damn do I hate them for doing this. If there were anything even remotely as good as gmail, I'd switch to it in a heartbeat.
posted by Damn That Television at 3:51 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


First, Google's official blog has used the words "opt out" several times to describe the service in relation to Gmail, and I'm inclined to believe them.
Yes, in sentences like "you can opt out [again] at any time". Parts of it are opt-out, sure, but this is true for just about every damn website in the world, ever. You sign up to Twitter and your follower list is public by default. Does this make Twitter opt-out?

Buzz itself and the public google profile? They're opt in. If you don't opt in, you don't have them. You can check how many GMail users you know don't have profiles, if you'd like to confirm.

Second, I've had to read the Google privacy policy very carefully for my job, and unfortunately it's vague enough that just about anything would potentially fly

It is vague, but it has reassuring lines like:
When you sign up for a particular service that requires registration, we ask you to provide personal information. If we use this information in a manner different than the purpose for which it was collected, then we will ask for your consent prior to such use.
(emphasis mine). Asking for consent is exactly what they did in this case.

"I expected exactly this to happen when I joined Google's beta email service in 2004!"

No, and nor should they. Which is why it's opt-in.

Anyone defending Google saying "OH YOU HAD TO OPT-IN TO BUZZ" is being amazingly willfully ignorant. There are too many bullshit privacy landmines in Buzz to even begin to count.

Well, you could try enumerating one or two of them instead of just asserting, because virtually all of the bullshit "storm" about this I've seen has been wrong in almost every point of fact. It's all misunderstanding, feelings and emotion, a lot of it from people who very much do know better.
posted by bonaldi at 4:00 PM on February 16, 2010


For the entirety of human civilization life has been lived in private.

For almost the entirety of human civilisation I should think the majority of the human population has been living in single room houses with ten or fifteen family members, the houses crammed together in slums, or in small villages where everybody knows everything you did last night anyway. What's changed isn't that people you wouldn't want to know what you did last night, it's the relative cost of storing and then retrieving that information.

It's not that you would be identified walking into the bank, it's that your previous locations, your future destinations, your employers, friends, references, all of that -- are presented right there with you.

You mean augmented reality coupled with image based search and perhaps coupled with an open, distributed CCTV network - all the technology exists already, it's only a matter of time.

"...Gmail users woke up one day to find their private account details exposed to the public"

Gmail users woke up one day to find their already public profiles exposed to people that could have seen all the same information already, just at slightly higher cost (in terms of effort) to them.
posted by robertc at 4:07 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I woke up one day last week and said "Gee, I wish there were a way to let my ex-girlfriends, my very ex-girlfriends, my former roommates, my second cousins, my really religious aunt, my dead grandmother, a group of roughly 100 stalkers who like my creative work a little too much, this dude I got in a fistfight with Junior year, some guy who emailed me on craigslist about buying my old electric saw but I had already sold it, a bunch of people who sent me resumes for a small acting role I was filling two years ago, my local gym's application account, my landlord's son, a girl I used to know who died in a gruesome car accident in 2007, Senator Durbin, my current boss, my former boss, the assistant dean of my college, and my younger brother all know that I read an article last night at 2:17 AM about Nigella Lawson." And google said "Well guess wjha dude.... they already Do. Welcome to thef uture."

~Google Buzz: Catch The Wave~
posted by Damn That Television at 4:08 PM on February 16, 2010 [14 favorites]


I think it'll be absolutely fascinating when the 'live-out-loud' generation starts to hit their late 30s or so, when we start to be aware of people as candidates for public office.

By then, people will demand their candidates be that way -- I don't recall society rewarding squeaky clean people with reality shows or lucrative endorsement deals these days.

The whole thing makes two interesting assumptions -- (a) that even if a company knows every comic book I ever or what '80's singers I still bop my head to -- that they would somehow have a clue about me or what I am likely to buy -- the fact that they need more information to sell less shows their weaknesses. You can have the slickest, edgiest, kewliest campaign in the universe -- if you make junk I don't need, you're not going to see a dime from me.

(b) That living out loud means anything -- if people are going to pick at you, they'll do it no matter that you say or do -- you can be moral, kind, caring, and never do a rotten or mean thing -- if someone has a vested interest in tearing you down, you can give them no right answer. If you say something, they'll throw it in your face. If you say the polar opposite, they'll twist it before throwing it in your face. If you say nothing, they throw it in your face or make things up to label you a freak.

People will talk no matter what you do or say or believe -- or don't do -- it's just a new bogeyman because the terrorists, swine flu, and global warming aren't scaring people...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 4:17 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Today, we're launching Google Buzz, a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting and share updates, photos, videos and more. Buzz is built right into Gmail, so there's nothing to set up — you're automatically following the people you email and chat with the most."

So where's the opt-in part that I'm missing? Not snarking or anything, I'm actually feeling like the slow person in the class. On the day it launched, a screen popped up in my Gmail, and I chose something like "I don't want to use Buzz" (paraphrasing) but I still got automatically added to the service. My mother, who didn't appear on any followers list, told me she could see all kinds of stuff from me. All of which was arguably public, but almost anything's arguably public according to Google's privacy policies, which were intentionally written to be ambiguous by Google's general counsel. I won't go into details because it could take pages, but just in what you quoted yourself, bonaldi, there are all kinds of ambiguities and uncertainties that are never resolved (again, the definition of "personal" vs. "non-personal" information).
posted by naju at 4:21 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


That Winston Smith - not a hypocrite.
I actually went into a bank the other day wearing someone else’s gender, height, weight, hair color, eye color, shoe size. Thank to their assumptions about my socioeconomic status I could cash other people’s checks.
I also enjoy posting the locations and whereabouts of undercover police officer’s families, where oversight committee members are going to meet whistleblowers, and where members of the witness protection program live.
They shouldn’t have anything to hide.

Seriously, I don’t get how there can be a recent thread which mentions false flag operations, and some folks who have obviously been there don’t make the connection.

And in what way does anyone 'have nothing to hide'? If you haven't said or done something you're nervous to have laid bare in front of the wrong people than you haven't ever said or done a damn thing worth doing or saying.

I've done a lot of things that would cost me plenty. Hell, I can't count how many people I've pissed off here alone (I prefer competence to prestige - typically it requires a sacrifice). But there is no effort without error. I agree with Teddy: "shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world."
Great enthusiasm and great devotion demand you fail and demand you sometimes make an ass of yourself. Sometimes this is necessary in the struggle of life, but it is always necessary in practice for it. And for that you need some shelter. Some privacy. Because your present or future enemies - and if you've stood up for anything worth a damn you will have made them - will be more than glad to gather as many of these together as they can. Because it is not the truth that will matter to them. Has it ever?
And yet, it is the truth that benefits, if you're right you help others understand and see it better. If you're wrong, at least you clarify the truth by your own failure.

The only folks I have no respect for - and I have great respect for many here and elsewhere that I may vehemently disagree with - are those that have no respect for the truth. That demand one always be right and there is no absolution for ever holding the wrong opinion.
That seeks only to further silence dissent without regard to it being wrong or right (or indeed even clarifying it either way independent of the speaker, because it's always the person who's wrong, not their words, and has to be if they're to have their way, no?)
And even when perfectly true itself, when the hell has reiterating popular opinion ever been real wisdom or of any value to advancing the truth?
(I like Feynman - 'this isn't right, it isn't even wrong')

And yeah, the social normalization of this seems to be by design. They've made it easier to not be private (as Burke said, the true danger is when liberty is nibbled away for expedients).

Indeed, it’s almost the perfect ‘secret police.’ The downsides of the black marias have always been information gathering and the general repugnance folks have for applying physical pressure.
This way, you have open data through self-informers and you can apply non-physical, nearly ephemeral, forms of pressure to suppress dissent.
That there is some thought control.

"No one understood better than Stalin that the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought immediately reveals itself as a jarring dissonance." - Bullock
posted by Smedleyman at 4:41 PM on February 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


~Google Buzz: Catch The Wave~

You know, I'm typically annoyed by peoples' "OH MY GOD I JUST FAVORITED THAT COMMENT SO HARD I CAME IN MY PANTS" comments .... but damned if you didn't just read my thoughts.

Turned off Google Buzz today merely on principle. I don't like the idea of people "following" me without my consent, and I REALLY don't like google's pre-populating "followers" lists. WTF?

As for the future of privacy and blah blah blah etc etc, here's my (boring) prediction of how things will turn out :

The "kids these days" will continue to act without any regard to their future desire for privacy. There will be a TON of embarrassing shit out there about lots and lots of people. Because of this, lots of people will be disqualified for things they need in Straight Society (jobs, education, apartments, etc), and I think this will play out mostly in the same way this kind of thing plays out now -- you aren't going to necessarily be disqualified from that well-paying tech job (because they need you too badly), that somewhat-expensive apartment (they will care more about your bill-paying abilities), or even the fairly-well-regarded State University that you want to attend. What you'll see is more discrimination in the high-end and the low-end -- poor people getting nixed from Wal Mart jobs (they're expendable and replaceable), preppies trying to get into exclusive schools and clubs (they're pretty much just looking for a reason to nix you), that sort of thing.

Also, as more of this information is available about people, I think you'll hear less about hard-fail scenarios (losing jobs, disqualified from internships), and FAR MORE about really fucking awkward social situations. Like, you won't get fired from your job because of some silly thing from your past, but probably one of your co-workers will discover it, and then EVERYONE will know. Or maybe you'll make a new friend or start dating somebody new, and then a few weeks down the line they'll discover something about you that you didn't want them to know just yet. And ... god ... I don't even want to think about how this will affect peoples' familial relationships. On the whole, I think things will become a lot more annoying, gossipy, and weird, which will be kryptonite for people like me who hate that shit, but it will be absolute gravy for insufferable yentas who like to poke their noses into other peoples' business -- which, regrettably, seems to be most people these days.

However, I think there will be sort of a counter-weight to this, a quality that I call the Rather Not Know (or RNK) -- you can think of it as the receiving end of TMI. And I think the first place this will show up is in peoples' family connections. We've really only seen the beginning of this -- it's still kind of a novelty for someone my age (late-20s, early-30s) to have a parent/grandparent/aunt on Facebook, but imagine what it's going to be like when EVERYONE is connected. There's going to be a whole lot of TMI and RNK. And I think that as this begins to happen, people are going to start taking their privacy a little more seriously.

This will probably take the form of network/identity stratification. You'll have different sets of accounts and different services that you'll use for different purposes. Twitter may be your spray-and-pray service where you just put all your random, safe, minutiae out there. Facebook may be your general-purpose network. LinkedIn or Yammer or something similar for work relationships. And maybe there will be some service that specializes in more-private networks for your less-public affinities (some friends and I have used Ning for that purpose, to some success). And that's not even taking into account having multiple identities; think MeFi sockpuppets writ large.

Anyway, I get really annoyed when people spout the 1995 Wired Magazine Party Line (FREE INFORMATION!!!! IN THE FUTURE, EVERYTHING WILL BE TRANSPARENT!!! NO MORE HYPOCRITES!!!) because it's just ridiculous and doesn't take into account the value of information. YES, if there is a way to use information to gain some sort of advantage, people will do it. Even if they don't stand to gain much, they'll do it because they're silly and gossipy and bored. I think that it's misleading to say that "IN THE FUTURE, WE'LL ALL BE CYBERPUNKS." I think it's a lot more accurate to say, "IN THE FUTURE, WE'LL ALL BE 13-YEAR-OLD GIRLS."
posted by Afroblanco at 4:53 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


While I agree that Google's recent behavior with Buzz to be questionable (at best), there are two arguments offered in this thread that I disagree with:
  1. That the diminution of privacy in realms where it is arguably beneficial translates to the diminution of privacy in realms where it is not.
  2. That any relinquishment of online privacy is intrinsically a negative thing.
For example, straight says:

> Don't be a union organizer. Don't be a whistleblower. Don't offer "lay" advice in your field of expertise....

This is a completely spurious argument. Linking my blogs, photos, name, relationships, etc. together is not equivalent to sacrificing the opportunity for privacy online. Nothing in Buzz, Facebook, et al. requires or even prevents you from maintaining a private online persona for any of the activities mentioned. This is a classic example of a strawman and a slippery slope argument.

The second point, that the relinquishment of online privacy is bad per se is also questionable. Frequently, it seems that privacy is good for the individual, but bad for society. For example, consider this case where an intern was fired for skipping work to go to a party. Virtually everyone has taken a sick day for reasons other than being sick. The only reason it's possible to fire someone for it is because most of them go unrealized. On the other hand, if everyone simply revealed when this happened, it would be impossible to fire everyone and would instead force a change in policy.

Let's look at a more serious example: gays in the military. Current estimates are that 2.8% of the military is gay1. If every homosexual in the military revealed his/her homosexuality on Facebook tomorrow, could the military discharge them all?

Essentially, online privacy is frequently a form of prisoner's dilemma. It would be best if everyone could be honest about themselves, but because so few people are, it's not possible. Certainly, there are some cases where privacy is still necessary. But when it comes to stuff like my religion, my sexuality, how drunk I got on Saturday, or who I was dating 3 years ago: these are things that I should be able to be public about without negative repercussions. It's only through the world becoming less private that these things happen.

I'm actually not sure if I believe all that, but I've been moving towards a more open online persona and I do sincerely believe that the more people are open and honest about themselves the better the world will be.

posted by christonabike at 4:58 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Uh, if you didn't have a public profile, then your stuff didn't show up in Buzz. If you did have a public profile, it was already tied into your email address and any of those people could have already found out all that information about you.
posted by empath at 5:28 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Looked at your Google Docs lately?
posted by sidereal at 5:32 PM on February 16, 2010


Essentially, online privacy is frequently a form of prisoner's dilemma. It would be best if everyone could be honest about themselves, but because so few people are, it's not possible. Certainly, there are some cases where privacy is still necessary. But when it comes to stuff like my religion, my sexuality, how drunk I got on Saturday, or who I was dating 3 years ago: these are things that I should be able to be public about without negative repercussions. It's only through the world becoming less private that these things happen.

This might be true in a very homogeneous society although I would still strongly argue against it. But in a an ethnically and religiously diverse country, it's a recipe for disaster as I'm sure this guy's daughters would agree. I don't believe he found out through the internet, it's just a dramatic example of some people's need for privacy. If all of our private predilections were suddenly revealed, we wouldn't all just respond with a bashful smile and shrug of the shoulders. Our values are different. A dead end, worst case scenario to me and you wouldn't necessarily be seen that way by everyone else, e.g. Mr. Yaser Abdel Said. And this is true on a smaller scale as well, exposing my perversions along with yours can leave me convinced that you're the one who's fucked up.

I don't see any reason to believe that outing all the members of the military would automatically change policy. Perhaps it would now that some of the prejudice against homosexuality has softened, but do you still think that would be the case if we had a bias as strong as it was fifty years ago?
posted by BigSky at 5:37 PM on February 16, 2010


guys I pushed a button that said "create public profile" and now I have a public profile, what the fuck Google how could you do this to me
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:40 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


"The Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission [PDF], urging the FTC to open an investigation into Google Buzz. Last week, Google tried to transform its popular email service into an untested social networking service. As a consequence, Google displayed social networking lists based on a user's most frequent address book contacts. The change was widely criticized. EPIC's complaint cites clear harms to service subscribers, and alleges that the change in business practices "violated user expectations, diminished user privacy, contradicted Google's privacy policy, and may have violated federal wiretap laws."
posted by cashman at 6:39 PM on February 16, 2010


Hypocrisy is part of that unholy trinity - lying, racism, and hypocrisy - that only kids care about. The great charge against the last administration was that "BUSH LIED" - not that he fucked up, not that he was incompetent, but that he lied.

Fascinating way to sculpt a quote out of context, Pastabagel. The actual charge was always "BUSH LIED - PEOPLE DIED!". Fox News has a position open for you.

Can't speak for others, but the 2nd half always disturbed me more. And the increasing capability, and eagerness, and self-granted impunity of the government to use technology to search its citizens without due process, to use gathered information to arrest, detain, and torture perpetrators outside of our legal system, and to adopt an assumption of guilt on our highways and mass transit systems "for the public good", make any lessening of my information privacy A Bad Thing, IMO.

Finally: to quote you in entirety: Hypocrisy is part of that unholy trinity - lying, racism, and hypocrisy - that only kids care about. If I express my disgust with you properly, this post will be deleted. You condone racism. What is worse, 10 Mefis favorited that statement. Shame on all of you.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:59 PM on February 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


Ah thanks empath, I did have a Google profile, though I treated it as an afterthought and promptly forgot about it. Who knows what I've been getting myself into at this point...
posted by naju at 7:05 PM on February 16, 2010


Google Accounts

Account Deleted

Your account has been deleted.
I've been meaning to do that for a while now, anyway.
posted by MysteriousMan at 7:05 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


If there were anything even remotely as good as gmail, I'd switch to it in a heartbeat.

There is - Google Apps for your Domain. The standard edition is free, Buzz-free, and you have more control over how it works.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:13 PM on February 16, 2010


Don't be a union organizer. Don't be a whistleblower. Don't offer "lay" advice in your field of expertise. Don't stand up for anyone who is unpopular. Don't comfort a victim of trauma by sharing your own very personal traumatic story. Don't ask questions about sex or any other embarrassing topic. Don't participate in an investigation of powerful people or corporations. Don't put out feelers for other job opportunities when you've already got a job. Don't tell jokes that would offend your mother or your boss or your grandma's minister or your ten-year-old nephew or your next-door neighbor. Don't criticize the government. Never write a love letter more personal than a Hallmark Greeting Card.

I've done almost all of these things. If the mood happened to strike my grandmother, she could probably figure out which porn I downloaded last night, and estimate how much of it I watched by seeing when I started posting on metafilter again. I'm OK with that. I'm OK with opening up a lot of my self and my knowledge to anyone who goes looking. But when I do investigative/organizing/leftist stuff, you bet your ass I don't do it on the internet. I can admit to doing it on the internet, because I've already had my picture taken and been in newspapers and shown up at rallies. I also don't hang out with people who are dumb enough to whip out their cameraphones as we're rolling up a joint. And god damn, I hope I never need to email somebody a love letter.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:21 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, I've been thinking a lot lately about privacy in this forum, since I recently added my Facebook account to my MeFi profile. This is the only place online that I go by my real name, the general public has access to what I say, and I am pretty open about private stuff. I'm thinking particularly about having talked about recovering from an eating disorder. The issue isn't so much that I wouldn't want my friends and associates to know, it's that I would want to control people finding out. While I would tell someone if they asked, it's not something I would want people to know without reason. I feel like if I talk about stuff like that on AskMe, maybe I'm doing a little bit to help other people out of that hell, whereas my colleagues knowing about it would only serve to foster gossip. I dunno.
posted by emilyd22222 at 7:55 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Originally "lack of privacy" just meant handing data over big corporations to store on databases and potentially deny you a loan or something down the line, but in most cases the use of the data was pretty innocuous.

Then they discover that people liked knowing things about their acquaintances. So now they're not only mining personal information, they're then taking that information and handing it right over to people who we actually know and actually care, often without people even realizing it or knowing how to disable it.

That's obvious a lot worse. And Of course there's all the sanctimonious bullshit about how this is "empowering" us to be little little passive content generators for them to make money. Bleh. I mean FFS they are literally going out of their way to find the people who we would be most concerned about knowing everything about us.

It's not surprising that kids would want to share all their crap online. Back in the '90s I didn't particularly care what people knew about me because there was nothing to know and no possible repercussions.
posted by delmoi at 7:58 PM on February 16, 2010


Hypocrisy is part of that unholy trinity - lying, racism, and hypocrisy - that only kids care about.

Only kids and minorities. None of whom are important, obviously.
posted by delmoi at 8:05 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Kids don't care about privacy until they do.
posted by unSane at 8:08 PM on February 16, 2010


I apologize if I'm repeating something that has already been said, but it seems to me that this is an instance of an unwelcome reality check. Google spoiled people for years: a fantastically functional e-mail service and various bundled content-management that cost them nothing (directly) and afforded a massive amount of storage. People were glad to get used to the idea of not paying for such a thing.

Google, like Facebook, was smart to create a system whereby salable information was input -- by the people themselves! -- right onto their own servers, and then essentially sell access to that information (this is just my probably-simplistic understanding). It's a business model that would have been unimaginable two decades ago, and now it seems unwise for anyone to remain ignorant of it.

But the point is that this was done by removing cost barriers to service. It is, unfortunately, very naive to assume that any corporation will offer any services free -- indefinitely. The free trial is not a new revenue mechanism. In this case, the free portion lasted for several years, so most people no longer thought of it as anomalous.
posted by clockzero at 8:15 PM on February 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, not quite. There's a missing step in that, and it's being missed out by everybody making histrionic blog posts about this. What happened was those people were invited to follow you. When you created your Buzz public profile, which you gave Google permission to do, those people were given access to your real name, etc etc ...

The first time you use Buzz, you're told you have to create a public profile to use it. Even in the early, not-as-explicit-as-now, warning box there was a link to a page explaining the ramifications. I made my profile public knowing exactly what would result. Google didn't invade your privacy, they just invited you to let the troops in.
Well, the problem is that what exactly you're sharing with Google buzz and your Google profile (which are two separate things) is rather opaque. It's obviously easy to figure out how to post, how to reply, how to set a post to private or public. But the other all privacy settings were not very obvious at all. There was no easy, clear explanation of what the options where and how to set them.

There's a reason for that, and that is that show people a privacy policy or talking about privacy actually brings it to the forefront of people's minds and makes them much less likely to share stuff. So ironically having a good, straightforward and easy to understand and find privacy policy just makes people more nervous about privacy in general. So keeping that stuff hidden can make sense for a new site.

But by integrating this with Gmail, and trying to integrate it with other services users were already using, Google fucked up. We've already got tons of personal stuff on those services, and we use them to communicate with people we might not be close friends with, who we might not want to share stuff with. Etc.

Sad thing is, I kind of like the interface of buzz. But google's decision to be cavalier with personal data, the way facebook has been is a major breach of trust.
In the future, you'll still Google people you do business with. You'll know the real freaks by the lack of hits. Either they're a luddite, or hired a cutter to hide something awful.
No no no. The ones who really have something to hide will hire SEO spammers to fill up the first hundred or so pages of results with irrelevant crap.
it works in exactly the same way as Facebook currently does (yes, including pre-populated followers if they have your email address).
Facebook gives you the option of uploading your IM buddy lists, address books, etc. But you don't have too. And you can use a fresh email address to sign up and keep your address private if you want. Buzz just throws itself onto your primary gmail account.
posted by delmoi at 8:41 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


clockzero: Google makes money on gmail. They show advertising based on email content. They're barely noticeable, but they're there. And they probably cover expenses, given the cost of storage space and under-utilization.
posted by delmoi at 8:43 PM on February 16, 2010


delmoi: Right, that's true. That's why I said it doesn't directly cost you anything.
posted by clockzero at 10:39 PM on February 16, 2010


I have not had any problems with Buzz. What am I doing wrong?
posted by Eideteker at 4:37 AM on February 17, 2010


Well, the problem is that what exactly you're sharing with Google buzz and your Google profile (which are two separate things) is rather opaque. ...But the other all privacy settings were not very obvious at all.

Do you mean opaque for people like us, or opaque for the people who login to Facebook via ReadWriteWeb? It really seemed pretty clear to me: you had a followers list, which was easy to prune, and you had a "connected sites" button, which was even easier. There are other privacy options, but really those were the main two: everything that's complained about in the blogs was controllable from there, and they're both one click away from the main page.
posted by bonaldi at 4:52 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Facebook gives you the option of uploading your IM buddy lists, address books, etc. But you don't have too. And you can use a fresh email address to sign up and keep your address private if you want. Buzz just throws itself onto your primary gmail account.

Sorry, missed this. You can equally sign up with a different GMail address to use Buzz. And Facebook will connect you if other people have uploaded address books with your address in them, exactly the same as this auto-follow thing.

And, again, though I think this is a lost cause because the world is so used to clicking "yes" and assuming everything will be fine that it has decided that they didn't have to do anything except wake up one morning, Buzz doesn't "throw itself" on to your primary account. You have to agree to create a public profile the first time you make a post. Don't do that, and there's nothing to follow; nothing exposed.
posted by bonaldi at 5:33 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


So where's the opt-in part that I'm missing?

That it doesn't broadcast anything you are doing on any of the given services unless you tell it to. (At least it doesn't now...)
posted by Francis at 7:03 AM on February 17, 2010


To repeat delmoi:
"Today, we're launching Google Buzz, a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting and share updates, photos, videos and more. Buzz is built right into Gmail, so there's nothing to set up — you're automatically following the people you email and chat with the most."

So where's the opt-in part that I'm missing? Not snarking or anything, I'm actually feeling like the slow person in the class. On the day it launched, a screen popped up in my Gmail, and I chose something like "I don't want to use Buzz" (paraphrasing) but I still got automatically added to the service.
So those of us who were in the first-day batch didn't have anything that looked like (or was) an opt-out. And the explanation of how the connections were made, with whom and with what services, was impressively unclear.
posted by epersonae at 9:32 AM on February 17, 2010


And I created a public profile a long time ago just as another way to control (!) the information that shows up about me in searches. Way back then (last winter maybe?) there was nothing about followers or following, but it showed up by default (and IIRC silently) on the profile.

(It sounds like they've corrected a lot of the problematic "automagical" bits, but their default attitude has given me pause. I may suck at backup, but perhaps I should go back to managing my own email, feed reader, etc., on my own domain.)
posted by epersonae at 9:36 AM on February 17, 2010




"They Are "Very, Very Sorry"

Reminds me of this (eminently forgettable) scene in Barfly where Henry and this floozy he just met (Wanda) are (deceptively) charging booze, cigars and beer to this other guy’s account. Meanwhile, in the background, while the counter guy is taking care of them some kids are (brazenly) shoplifting. So Henry and Wanda run off with their stuff and the clerk confronts the kids and screams (God Dammit!) at them and they have their pants stuffed with packs of gum, Twinkies, candy, Ho-Ho’s, etc. And they start casually removing the items from their pockets and start putting stuff back and say, as though they thought there wasn’t a problem with stealing anything “Oh, sorry man.”
posted by Smedleyman at 1:51 PM on February 17, 2010


I was never asked. The profiles were auto generated.

I'm done with them.

Nuked' em.

I've got my own domains, I've got my own hardware, statics, and an ISP that gives SWEET FUCK ALL about what I do with MY pipe. It may not be fast, but god-DAMN-it I will be in charge. I use MeFi, AskME, and MeCha as my only means of public exposure via the web... I intend to keep it that way. Until I CHOOSE otherwise.

I LIVE the Unix philosophy. Small modular tools, that YOU have the OPTION of linking in any manner the USER sees fit.

I've got disks, I've got systems, I've got free and open-source OS'es. I don't want or need this patronizing corporate bullshit.

It's time for those with the means, the skills, and the drive to move away; to do so... and help all those who feel the same.

I will be searching with other means... time to go dark.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 2:24 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Set down the William Gibson book and back away slowly, please.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:36 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was never asked. The profiles were auto generated.

This is a lie. Either you didn't pay attention to what you were agreeing to or you never actually used Buzz and are simply looking for a reason to rant.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:37 PM on February 17, 2010


And in what way does anyone 'have nothing to hide'?

Unless I've missed the comments in this thread, the only people who've trotted out the 'nothing to hide' line are one person near the start who I thought was being ironic and a load of people who are completely adamant that there are very good reasons for good people to have things to hide and are, coincidentally, not at all impressed with Buzz.

I, and, I suspect, a few other people who've been trying to point out that Google didn't really do anything really evil, agree that there are very good reasons for good people to have things to hide. What we're saying is, if you want to do private things online, you're going to have to be more sophisticated than using a few different email aliases and, if you care about your privacy in the future, start learning to be more sophisticated now.
posted by robertc at 3:15 PM on February 17, 2010


PleaseRobMe.com is a newly launched site that scans Twitter for users who are checking in via FourSquare (basically admitting they're not at home)

The site re-posts this information making an interesting statement about the potential dangers of oversharing online.
posted by Jaybo at 9:10 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Google didn't really do anything really evil

The "nothing to hide" canard was something of a derail, but one common enough and wrong enough to be worth refuting when it pops up.

What Google did that was evil was:

1. Try to steal customers from Facebook, MySpace, and others, not by offering a significantly better service but by trying to leverage their Gmail userbase. Offering a better service hurts other companies and disrupts established social networks (stealing half the Facebook userbase hurts all Facebook users), but it creates something users decide is worth the disruption and arguably makes the world better. Stealing customers by leveraging market share in another domain benefits no one but Google.

2. When choosing between automatically linking profiles (a big boost to their launch at the cost of privacy and security risks for users) vs. allowing users to choose to link profiles (a big drag on their launch), they choose the option that helped themselves at the expense of their users.

Either you didn't pay attention to what you were agreeing to or you never actually used Buzz

No one who created a public profile before Buzz rolled out agreed to have its contents automatically mailed to people in their inbox, or, more seriously, to have people in their inbox linked together in a way that revealed their identities to each other, except in the morally bankrupt sense of clicking on an EULA agreement.
posted by straight at 7:08 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]




No one who created a public profile before Buzz rolled out agreed to have its contents automatically mailed to people in their inbox, or, more seriously, to have people in their inbox linked together in a way that revealed their identities to each other, except in the morally bankrupt sense of clicking on an EULA agreement.

In other words, you didn't pay attention to what you were agreeing to and just assumed that it was what you wanted it to be.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:32 AM on February 18, 2010



In other words, you didn't pay attention to what you were agreeing to and just assumed that it was what you wanted it to be.


No, I'm saying it is evil for a corporation to spring "features" on users that are only detailed in fine print on an EULA. It is evil to expect someone to read and understand 20 pages of fine print to use your website or computer program. It is evil to say "gotcha, you agreed to this in the fine print."
posted by straight at 8:48 AM on February 18, 2010


Look, man, everything you're objecting to was spelled out for you. That you chose not to read it and instead to assume that it said whatever you wanted it to say is your problem.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:08 AM on February 18, 2010


Well I guess we can go ahead and tell mouseprint to shut down.
posted by cashman at 10:34 AM on February 18, 2010


Look, man, everything you're objecting to was spelled out for you. That you chose not to read it and instead to assume that it said whatever you wanted it to say is your problem.

That sentence. Right there. That attitude. That adversarial stance toward conducting business.

It is legal, but immoral. Evil. Anyone who conducts business that way should be ashamed.
posted by straight at 10:50 AM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not only that, it's unquestionably a BAD way to conduct business. As Google is learning the fallout of this debacle. One of their greatest assets is consumer trust, and that's just been heavily compromised.
posted by naju at 10:55 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Your insistence that the sign on the door reading "tigers" was insufficient notice of tigers is ridiculous. You're like the people who call technical support insisting that you did nothing wrong and you know what you're doing despite your refusal to read the manual. You had ignorance and acted on it, specifically refusing to relieve yourself of that ignorance about your action before taking it.

It's natural to be upset, but I'd rather not live in a world where every interface option must have a big flash 16-pt text banner next to it explaining what it does because some people refuse to undertake the least effort to find out what happens when they interact with them. The only way for you to get your way is for Google to not offer to users services and features that you, personally do not want, because you cannot be bothered to not partake of the features you don't want. You can oversimplify and call it "evil", but this is lacking in understanding of the greater context in which you are making that assessment.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:42 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Your insistence that the sign on the door reading "tigers" was insufficient notice of tigers is ridiculous.

Your conflation of an EULA with a sign above a door is ridiculous.

You had ignorance and acted on it, specifically refusing to relieve yourself of that ignorance about your action before taking it.


Not necessarily ignorance. There were many who knew Google's lawyers had written the EULA so they had the legal right to do this, but who mistakenly believed Google would not trample their users' privacy this way. But I also denounce your apparent belief that fine print in and EULA is a moral way to conduct business or that failure to read that fine print is a failing on the users part.

The only way for you to get your way is for Google to not offer to users services and features that you, personally do not want, because you cannot be bothered to not partake of the features you don't want...You can oversimplify and call it "evil", but this is lacking in understanding of the greater context in which you are making that assessment.

You're the one who shows no awareness of the actual context here. Google users signed up for one service and their data was then used to kick-start a different service that they had not signed up for. The fact that Google's fine print warns users they might do this does not make it okay. Your claim that such fine print constitutes consent on the user's part is shameful.
posted by straight at 7:42 PM on February 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I have a gmail account I hardly check. Is there something I need to opt out of here, or? It's hard to follow what's going on exactly.
posted by ODiV at 10:07 PM on February 18, 2010


ODiV - go to http://www.google.com/profiles. If it says "view your profile" on the right, you set one up at some point and you might want to make sure there's no information you don't want on there, because your email contacts have been given a super-easy way to get to it via Buzz. If you use Picasa or Reader, your Buzz followers can see your shared/public items.

If it says "set up a profile," then don't do it if you don't want to share any info.

Since you never turned on Buzz, you shouldn't be auto-following anyone, therefore no one should be able to see who you are following (i.e. your most frequently emailed contacts).
posted by desjardins at 6:45 AM on February 19, 2010


. The fact that Google's fine print warns users they might do this does not make it okay. Your claim that such fine print constitutes consent on the user's part is shameful.

I don't think that's what Pope Guilty is saying: he's saying that the "Press OK to post this to buzz and create your public profile" pane that everybody had to click through the first time they used Buzz constitutes a "tiger" sign, not some tiny print in the EULA.

It's obviously too late to check, but I'm pretty sure that everybody has to give their consent: I already had a public Google profile, and I definitely had to, twice, on day one. They'd have had to ask for it anyway, under the current privacy policy, so I'm much more inclined to put accounts of "I didn't have to click nuttin, I just woke up" down to dialog-box-blindness, which we all know exists.
posted by bonaldi at 7:39 AM on February 19, 2010


Bondali, you are mistaken about the facts.

The initial version of the Buzz introduction screen said, "If you click on this, your public profile will be activated, and that includes your list of followers." It did not say that the list of followers would be generated automatically from your e-mail address book and immediately made public when you clicked on the link. People who are used to services like Facebook would reasonably have assumed they'd have a chance to choose who would be in their list of followers.
posted by straight at 8:19 AM on February 19, 2010


Furthermore, (and I'm having trouble finding a link that pins this down exactly) several people have described experiences where they clicked "No, continue to Inbox," in response to the initial "wanna try Buzz?" screen, but because they used one of the other services like Reader, Google made some of their e-mail contacts available to anyone who signed up to follow them, even though they had not chosen to make those contacts public in Reader.
posted by straight at 8:47 AM on February 19, 2010


For the record, there are now 23 people who favorited Pastabagel's post condoning racism as something "only kids care about". Damn. And Mefites are worried about men who compliment movie stars on their appearances? I'm not saying sexism isn't as bad as racism, but it's about the degree of each. There are fish, and there are whales.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:54 AM on February 19, 2010


strahigt, your link (and my experience) contradicts you:
There is also a "Welcome To Buzz" panel that shows who you are following and who is following you. In a long bit of unbolded text, it says "Buzz is a new way to share updates, photos, videos and more, and start conversations about the things you find interesting. You're already set up to follow the people you email and chat with the most." (Emphasis mine)
You can argue that it wasn't clear enough, or not explicit enough (and SAI are doing both), but you can't say it wasn't there. If you're a privacy freak, you should know better than to merrily click past anything Google presents you.

Also: that initial "Wanna try Buzz?" screen was no such thing: it was a "Buzz is here! Wanna watch a video about it?" screen. Again, people didn't bother reading it, assumed it was an opt-out page and went nuts when all clicking "No, go to inbox" did was skip the video.
posted by bonaldi at 9:22 AM on February 19, 2010


bonaldi, you initially didn't get that screen until after Google had made those email connections live.

Also: that initial "Wanna try Buzz?" screen was no such thing: it was a "Buzz is here! Wanna watch a video about it?" screen. Again, people didn't bother reading it, assumed it was an opt-out page and went nuts when all clicking "No, go to inbox" did was skip the video.

I didn't realize that. That's even worse. So at what point are you claiming people gave Google permission to disclose the identities of some of their e-mail correspondents to each other?
posted by straight at 10:33 AM on February 19, 2010


The first time you used Buzz, after you'd seen the screen saying you were now following friends, you had to agree to making it all public on your profile (the screen is in your link).

If you didn't do that, even if you had looked at Buzz and read stuff, you wouldn't have a public profile and your putative followers wouldn't have anything to follow. (Well, if you already had a public profile that you'd previously set up, they could see your reader publicly shared items, but that's hardly a violation).
posted by bonaldi at 10:56 AM on February 19, 2010


(by "used" I mean tried to share something, post a comment or "like" something.)
posted by bonaldi at 10:57 AM on February 19, 2010


The process bonaldi describes is what I experienced. I logged in to Gmail, the "Do you want to watch an exciting video?" screen showed up, I clicked "Hell no," figuring this was the legendary "opt-out", despite the poor wording, and then was quite suddenly in an inbox that was no longer entirely my own.

I had no Google Profile (that I know of, maybe at some hazy point in the past I fiddled and forgot). I never opted-out of anything. I never clicked "Yes you can", but yet there it was.

Ten minutes later I had no more Google Accounts left. As another said above, it doesn't even matter if they fix it, Google has made their move, and it is move that I do not want to be a part of. I don't use the Internet to socialise, and I certainly am not comfortable with Google or any other corporation handling so much sensitive information.
posted by MysteriousMan at 11:28 AM on February 19, 2010


PG, I use gmail STRICTLY for IMAP support. NOTHING ELSE. Profiles that I NEVER EXPLICITLY CREATED, simply were there when I checked. I had not accessed gmail via a browser in over nine months... I had to access it for each account I had... each time I did not grant explicit authority to use the Buzz service. There should never have been any data available to create an account. The accounts were there regardless.

Regardless of my consent.

That is all.

They crossed a line... and quite frankly, I find collective meh-licity to their actions... disturbing.

Trust has been breached.

Trust will no linger be granted.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 11:51 AM on February 19, 2010


For the record, there are now 23 people who favorited Pastabagel's post condoning racism

First of all, for what record? You want to keep a separate record than the one that already exists?

Secondly, it's now at 24 because I just favourited it out of spite. Just letting you know in case you wanted to start up a second column to keep track of the intentions of those who favourited it.
posted by ODiV at 12:30 PM on February 19, 2010


Oh, and thanks for the link and info, desjardins. I'll be sure to give it a look.
posted by ODiV at 12:31 PM on February 19, 2010


PROD_TPSL: The profile you saw was only visible to you. Until you allow them to make it public, which you *must* do (it's opt-in, though some people did it before Buzz launched), it's a 404 to everyone else, even your followers.
posted by bonaldi at 12:40 PM on February 19, 2010


The Long Tail of News - To Publish or to Unpublish. [PDF] - Survey results.
"You be the editor: How would your news organization handle this request from a reader? “My name is _________________. My name was mentioned in two Toronto Star articles discussing a bomb threat at … (in a public location).

The articles state that I am charged with a number of offenses including false message, common nuisance and mischief interfering with property. I had no involvement in this criminal activity and as a result, these charges were withdrawn against me on December 16th, 2008.

I am currently an articling student [lawyer intern] at a law firm and face serious damage to my reputation as a result of my name being mentioned in these articles. Searches of my name in online search browsers immediately link to these articles, which unfairly stigmatizes me and prevents me from pursuing my professional goals. As a result, I would like to request to have my name removed from these articles. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Sincerely , ________”"
posted by cashman at 1:42 PM on March 3, 2010


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