Tag Archive for Google

Should Google force you to use your real name?

Is it inevitable?

Google may not force people to use their real names now, but it hasn’t had the best track record with this stuff. When it launched Google+ back in 2011, the company made the hugely controversial decision to prevent people from using pseudonyms, a rule it was forced to relax some time afterward.

More recently, Google introduced Google+ login buttons, which people use to sign up for services using their Google+ accounts. Late last year, Google also tied users’ Google Play reviews to their Google+ accounts, preventing them from anonymously reviewing apps.

The two features seem like they targeting different things, but they both tie into one word: trust. By enforcing a system wherein everyone is using their real names, Google says it can more effectively assure users that they’re dealing with real, legitimate, trustworthy people (and websites).

Vint Cerf, a senior Google executive known as a “father of the Internet” thinks it is a bad idea:

When Google+ launched in 2011, its requirement that users display their real names alarmed activists who accused the Web giant of abandoning its “Don’t be evil” corporate mantra to pursue growing rival Facebook. The world’s most popular social network has been the most aggressive in enforcing its policy, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg once equating keeping multiple identities with “a lack of integrity.”

In one instance in 2011, Facebook suspended British author Salman Rushdie’s account and, after reviewing his passport, changed his Facebook identity to “Ahmed Rushdie.” The company relented after Rushdie played up the row on Twitter, but it has stood by its policy as a general matter.

“This real name culture leads to greater accountability and a safer and more trusted environment for our users, and we firmly believe that the use of authentic identity helps people get the most value out of the site,” Facebook spokesman Frederic Wolens said.

Due to its easy integration, many online messaging boards or third-party apps — like music-streaming service Vevo.com, for instance — increasingly require users to log in with their Facebook credentials. Last week, Google introduced a similar Google+ log-in service for third-party sites.

In response to public outcry, Google in 2012 began allowing nicknames and pseudonyms for a fraction of Google+’s 500 million users, and has since reiterated that it would encourage – but not require – Gmail and YouTube users to sign in with Google+.

Self-Driving Google Car allegedly cuts off Matt Drudge

“Robot jerk cut me off… Chased it into parking lot.” Tweeted the internet news editor.

A bloody murder caught on Google Maps? Not so fast…

Does this image on Google Maps image show a murderer dumping a body? This location in the city of Almere, Holland appears to show the bloody trail of a body being drug to the end of a pier.

Analysis suggests that no…all signs say it’s just 2 people with their pet that went for a swim in the water.

The “blood” isn’t blood at all, but rather the discoloration illusion the wood pier takes on when wet.

Zooming out further on Google Earth also reveals other people nearby, while zooming further in shows the trail of the discoloration consistent with a dog walking in and out of the water, then too and from its owner where as if the trail was the leaking blood from a body about to be dumped, the travel pattern would make no sense. Sorry to ruin this one for the internet, but… it’s a dog, not a Dead.

Google is Evil (by its given definition)

Gizmodo has an extensive writeup titled The Case Against Google. In one of the sections it asks (and answers), “What is evil?”.

Starting with Josh McHugh’s January 2003 story about Google as a launchingpad, the article says “It identifies all the major problems Google faced then, which are still, largely, the problems it faces today. But it does something else, too. It pins the company down on what, exactly, evil is.” So what is it?:

Google’s code of conduct can be boiled down to a mere three words: Don’t be evil.
Very Star Wars. But what does it mean?
“Evil,” says Google CEO Eric Schmidt, “is what Sergey says is evil.”
As a private company, Google has one master: users. As a public company, there are shareholders to worry about. And more than happy users, shareholders want ever-greater profits.

If Brin’s code of good and evil permits the company to negotiate with sovereign governments and allows for some legal meddling from unpopular religions, there is no wiggle room—no gray area whatsoever—when it comes to those who attempt to subvert the power of Google to their own commercial ends. One thing Brin is sure of: On the side of evil lies trickery.

I ask Brin to imagine, for a moment, running his company’s evil twin, a sort of anti-Google. “We would be doing things like having advertising that wasn’t marked as being paid for. Stuff that violates the trust of the users,” he says, describing a site that sounds not unlike the pay-for-placement search site Overture. “Say someone came looking for breast cancer information and didn’t know that some listings were paid for with money from drug companies. We’d be endangering people’s health.”

The highlighted passages are then responded to.

In the past year—and especially the past six months—Google has unquestionably and to an unprecedented extent violated its users’ trust. And of course the great irony is that the subversion of Google’s power, the ultimate trickery, came not from an external force, but Google itself.

Mat Honan, the author of the piece, says that Google has spent much of 2011 and 2012 getting called out for all kinds of nasty brutish behavior. Here are a few “small but telling”, as Honan puts it, examples of that trickery:

How Steve Jobs viewed his competition

In addition to Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Google’s Larry Page, the tapes reveal what Jobs thought about Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg.

Jobs tells Isaacson: “You know we talk about social networks in the plural but I don’t see anybody other than Facebook out there. It’s just Facebook – they’re dominating this. I admire Mark Zuckerberg. I only know him a little bit, but I admire him for not selling out. For wanting to make a company. I admire that a lot.”

Google Maps Camera Cars

Friendly Google Mapper:

NotsoFriendly Google Mapper:

A Google Maps tricycle navigates the streets of Croatia:

Google even pins itself in real life:

Expert Alleges Google’s “Totolitarian” Efforts

An article in the Washington Times is by Scott Cleland who wrote the book, Search and Destroy: Why You Can’t Trust Google Inc.

Google Inc.’s “Don’t Be Evil” slogan is seductive but misleading. It is the lowest business ethics standard ever devised, excusing everything Google does short of evil. Google isn’t evil – but neither is it ethical.

While perceptions of the world’s erstwhile No. 1 brand remain exceptionally strong, Google’s ethical blind spots regarding privacy and property rights are beginning to erode the public’s trust and eventually could threaten the company’s market domination. Anyone who follows Google closely knows that the company is a serial scandal machine. One of the world’s most powerful companies, with its vainglorious mission to “organize the world’s information,” has proved itself to be unethical, shockingly political and untrustworthy.

Cleland gives some examples of how Google has violated privacy rights:

Google’s privacy record is shameful. In 2004, Google sparked a privacy outcry by scanning Gmail users’ private emails for advertising keywords. The next year, Google Earth put sites, including the White House’s roof and a Trident submarine base, on public display; a leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade terrorist group said he was thrilled. In 2006, Google refused to comply with a California privacy law. Two years later, Street View exposed people’s homes and license plates to anyone who cared to look; a member of the British Parliament described the service as “invading our privacy on an industrial scale.” In 2009, Google began tracking the books people searched (via Google Books) and visitors to WhiteHouse.gov. Last year, Google Buzz exposed users’ private email lists to the public while Google’s Street View cars were caught eavesdropping on millions of users’ wireless networks. No wonder Privacy International cited Google for its “entrenched hostility to privacy.” But it’s easy to understand why Google has no respect for privacy. Just consider Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s own words: “If you have something you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.”