tip off

Google+ is a goddam Trojan horse

Google hasn’t actually lied, but it hasn’t exactly been honest either. Its new social network service (SNS) Google+ may look like an SNS and act like an SNS, but it’s not. It’s bait.

This is why Google is so stubbornly fighting the #nymwars over its controversial “real names” policy.

You know, the one where the message is essentially screw you, Google doesn’t care what you want to call yourself. Google doesn’t care whether linking your real name — what some people call your “wallet name” because it’s on all the plastic in your wallet — to your online comments might get you sacked from your job, outed as the only gay in the socially conservative village or your door kicked in by the police.

It really, really doesn’t care. It has a bigger objective in mind.

It’s building an identity service.

Sweet Jesus! Google+ is a goddam Trojan horse! And this comes straight from the horse’s mouth, to jumble metaphors.

Google chair Eric Schmidt said it himself during an interview in Edinburgh with Andy Carvin from US National Public Radio.

Carvin’s post — on Google+ if you’ll excuse the irony — paraphrases Schmidt’s comments on real names:

He replied by saying that G+ was build [sic] primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products that leverage that information.

Regarding people who are concerned about their safety, he said G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It’s obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn’t use G+. Regarding countries like Iran and Syria, people there have no expectation of privacy anyway due to their government’s own policies, which implies (to me, at least) that Schmidt thinks there’s no point of even trying to have a service that allows pseudonyms.”

An identity service is the holy grail. If you become the trusted service that everyone uses to identity themselves online, authenticating them for everything from posting comments on news websites to making payments from your smartphone, then you get your cut of a massive global economy, whether you own those end services or not. Google would obviously want to make sure Facebook Passport doesn’t win that battle.

Google seriously wants your wallet name for that.

Oh, and it’d get to track everything people do.

Everything.

And to achieve this, they’re for people at the margins to be excluded from social connections should the rest of their friends use Google+ become the place they interact and organise activities.

Earlier this year the United States, which, despite its collapsing economy, still likes to think it runs the world, put together the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) to protect us — well, Americans — against the horror of anonymity.

Government officials have made clear that they want the push for identity authentication to come from private industry, as BigGov is wary of the backlash if they were to start issuing digital driver’s licences for navigating the internet,” wrote Kashmir Hill in Forbes.

I imagine that Schmidt sees a certain opportunity here for Google, and Google+ is the way they’ll get it.

Fortunately for those concerned that big business might be even worse than government in this realm — after all, Google’s allegiance is to shareholder profit, not your safety and well-being — Google+ is looking like it’ll fail to achieve lift-off.

Priit Kallas has  noted that Google+ has dropped from nearly 3% of all google.com traffic at the beginning of August to 1.8% now.

The bad press over #nymwars continues, and the longer Google tries to tough it out, the worse it looks.

People say a lot that, you know, Google isn’t good at customer service and Google isn’t good at social, and I’ve just come to believe that Google isn’t good at people,” said former Google developer Kirrily “Skud” Robert on the Patch Monday podcast.

So Google+ may fail. Which is fine, because that would leave Facebook to manage our online identity.

Oh.

25
  • 1
    joanjett
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I don’t do Facebook but would have embraced it were I still an expat. However I’m interested in the alternative social media springing up which don’t require your private details or browsing history to be stored on someone’s servers somewhere, like Diaspora. I’ve registered on the website to be notified when the beta version is available. I’ve also installed Ghostery into my browser which blocks data mining cookies (most of the time) but still lists all the cookies imbedded in the site. I’m also looking at installing Convergence into my browser to avoid man in the middle attacks. What are your thoughts on this?

  • 2
    Oscar Jones
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Google , by insisting upon ‘wallet names’ may well be aiding fraud. False identities are now so easy to create, especially in Asia where it is a boom industry.

  • 3
    joanjett
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    This page for example has about 12 data mining cookies installed

  • 4
    joanjett
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Actually 8

  • 5
    Tomboy
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    How come Crikey is hosted on a server in New York?

  • 6
    botswana bob
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    GOOGLE could be worse than government![Errr, better make that just as bad]
    Wasn’t the GOOGLE motto Don’t Do Evil?
    Seen one multinational, seen ‘em all.

  • 7
    Peter Ormonde
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I have stopped using both Facebook and Google - at least for anything that involves my having an account and providing identifiers. Strongly suggest people do the same… Google is becoming a wolf in sheep’s clothing in my view and we will all end up being fleeced.

  • 8
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Good is bad at people - appallingly so. There’s few places to complain about the services on the site, and there’s no guarantee one will get a reply.

    This strategy made a little bit of sense sense when all they were providing was a search engine. They didn’t want to be bothered by every SEO huckster’s complaint about their low page ranking. But it’s absolute pants when one is trying to get a social network happening, especially when one is trying to pass arbitrary and inconsistent rules for naming.

  • 9
    (the other) BernardK
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I decided as soon as I saw the real name stuff that I didn’t want to play there. And thanks Stil, this has kinda re-vindicated that decision.

    As an aside , I wish people would get the “don’t do evil” quote correct. It was to the effect of

    ” to make money, you don’t need to do anything evil”

    And yes, I do like your conclusion as well.

  • 10
    overview
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    An identity service is the holy grail. It’s building an identity service.”

    Dead right you are. Soon, there will be a major at all costs push for people to have immediate identification apparatus. Probably instigated by some false flag operation as the pretext.

    Cards and passports of any description can’t do it because of the easy potential for being either duplicated or stolen. So that brings us to something far more personal and personally unique, like something embedded in our bodies that can’t be removed.

    Recently at a night club in the Iberian peninsular, I ran out of Euro’s and the staff offered me a small micro chip easily implanted under my skin, in order to access my accounts. There were no ATM’s in close proximity. Google microchips at Spanish Night Clubs, should be interesting.

    They said it was harmless, pain free and extremely efficient. This micro chip was powered by a tiny lithium battery which was some how rechargable. I declined the offer.

    Later, I did some research on lithium battery micro chips and discovered that if lithium leaks into the human body it can cause lesions and sores that take ages to heal or don’t heal at all.

    Now, I am the most irreligious person you will ever come across, but I found this quite coincidental.

    And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.” Revelation 16:2

  • 11
    Amathar
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Not good at people is grossly understating it.

    Google have failed to be open or honest about the whole situation. Who in their right mind would trust them with anything?
    I’ve felt better handled by banks and that’s certainly not a compliment.

    Once upon a time I think Google understood the diverse and fluid nature of the internet population. The Google+ maneuver has all the hallmarks of rigid, arrogant corporations like Microsoft, Oracle and IBM.

    Google is all grown up. It can go stand with the hand-wringing geriatrics and make room for new kids in the playground.

  • 12
    Eurt stI
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for that intrigue.

  • 13
    Rasta
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know a good IT Security bloke/tart?

  • 14
    Socratease
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Nothing Google does surprises me. Their approach has always been “act first, reluctantly seek permission afterwards”.

  • 15
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and regards to Tomboy’s question - perhaps it is easier to get cheap yet good quality hosting in the States? I host over there for different reasons - the web tech I want to use is not available in the Australia, or not for the prices I am able to pay. It’s not just steelworks that suffer sclerotic management.

  • 16
    David Gerard
    Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Don’t forget this one:

    http://www.webpronews.com/google-ranking-signal-2011-08

    They will up your site’s rank in the search if you create a G+ profile. They will drop it if you don’t.

    They are willing to compromise the search engine to collect profiles.

  • 17
    David Gerard
    Posted Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    Oh, and here’s Andy Carvin’s actual transcript of Schmidt’s words:

    https://plus.google.com/117378076401635777570/posts/CjM2MPKocQP

  • 18
    Bellistner
    Posted Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Tomboy asked:

    How come Crikey is hosted on a server in New York?

    Because Hosting in Australia is prohibitively expensive for what you get.

  • 19
    Posted Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I find it most amusing that the majority of people who are whining about Google+ are all doing so under the cover of a pseudonym…
    :lol:

  • 20
    AR
    Posted Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    The ubiquity of the Net (is that still the cool word..?) and the utter loss felt, by most of us now dependent upon it, when some glitch severs us should be salutary. It reminds me of how BankCard (by a consortia of the major banks) was introduced to a sceptical and distrustful Oz public, free to use for all. Ten years later restrictions were introduced on it but innovations on credit cards became more & more attractive. Then, once we were all plasticised, BankCard was simply shut down.
    I see the same thing with the net thingy, when we all imagine that without it, it will start to be restricted, censored, directed and COST.
    We have been warned. Not least by by the fungi chewing John in Revelations….!

  • 21
    Overview
    Posted Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Correct, we are seeing the foot-falls of a new financial-identity system which will start out as optional but quickly become mandatory. If we don’t take it, we will not be able to trade, transact , swap or “buy or sell” or generally exist at all, “rich man or poor man”..it does n’t matter, everyone will be caught in the net. You will be either a citizen of the New World System offered to us by the IBC or you are toast.

  • 22
    Overview
    Posted Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    As a fully financial paid up subscriber I find moderation a strange thing. Tell me, which word was offensive?

  • 23
    Cajela
    Posted Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    As I sign in here with my google email, which links to my G+ profile, my google blog and my google on-line photos, as well as my Apple app store/iTunes account, my facebook profile, my gravatar, and any number of shopping sites and WordPress sites… Well, I wonder if it is not too late already.

    I’m idly thinking of creating a second set under a low-key false name that they won’t detect. Something like “John Smith”, but less obvious. Just in case of, umm, something or other.

  • 24
    Steerpike
    Posted Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I started to write a comment, but it ended up being a bit long so I turned it into a blog post. In short, I think there’s a valid argument against what Google is doing with G+ but I think this article wanders into the hysteria side of things a bit much.

  • 25
    David Gerard
    Posted Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Steerpike - I know quite a few people who felt baited-and-switched that what they thought was a social network was trying to be an identity service. Of course, I likely have a biased sample. But I think it’s a stretch to call that an unreasonable way to feel about it. Google’s behaviour here quite definitely breaks expectations, badly.

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