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Google Businesses The Internet Privacy

Google Reader Begins Sharing Private Data 313

Posted by kdawson
from the thought-it-was-your-data-eh dept.
Felipe Hoffa writes "One week ago Google Reader's team decided to begin showing your private data to all your GMail contacts. No need to opt-in, no way to opt-out. Complaints haven't been answered. Some users share their problems, including one family who says they won't be able to enjoy this Christmas because of this 'feature.' Will Google start doing this with all their products? You can check a summary of complaints in my journal here or browse the whole thread in Google Groups."
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Google Reader Begins Sharing Private Data

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  • Tempest in a Teapot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by X (1235) <x@xman.org> on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:07PM (#21811338) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry, but I'm with Google on this one. I was using Reader for a while after it was activated before I noticed it. It shares exactly what I expect with exactly who I expect. I've been using it for about a week now and I haven't felt like there was any violation of privacy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jmccay (70985)
      FUD? Really? Seriously, this does point out a drawback with using online applications. You are trusting your data to a foreign entity that may not even reside in the country. Then you can split hairs by having the company in the country and the servers in a different country that has laws more to their liking. Nothing is to stop the company from publishing your data. If I were someone important, like a politician, I would not use yahoo or google email. To dangerous. I will stick to my plain old desk
      • by X (1235) <x@xman.org> on Monday December 24, 2007 @11:29PM (#21811836) Homepage Journal
        Dude, it is only sharing articles that you clicked on the "share" icon for, and only with your contacts. If you never click on the share icon, nobody sees anything.

        This isn't one of those international conglomerate conspiracy theories.
        • by sumdumass (711423) on Monday December 24, 2007 @11:56PM (#21812014) Journal
          But he brings up a valid point. When ever you trust something to the whims of someone else, expect them to be the keeper of it, not you. There were plenty of people who shared with a few people under the assumption that only a few people saw it. When others in the contact list started seeing it, it created problems for them. Why? Because google at their whim change how something worked and people had the ability to access something though you that you didn't count on.

          And this goes with on line documents or anything. If they change the policy because of whatever and catch you off guard, your shit out of luck. BTW, if you were a closet homo, would you want you mom and dad to see that you were sharing Gay Marriage articles with your lovers? I mean this as minor as you might think, reaches far beyond simple arguments about who cares. It goes to exemplify why you shouldn't trust anything to another person or company that can make a number of changes without notifying you.
          • by Danathar (267989)
            Oh pulleeze. Nobody is forcing anybody to use google. When you choose a "service" run by somebody else you accept the risks involved. If you are concerned that it might change then don't use it. Build your own email server and everything else you want at home and stop whining.

            It's getting harder and harder to evaluate LEGITIMATE issues with google from the people that just like to complain because they are happy when they are complaining about something thats popular.
            • by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @12:39AM (#21812260) Journal

              Oh pulleeze. Nobody is forcing anybody to use google. When you choose a "service" run by somebody else you accept the risks involved. If you are concerned that it might change then don't use it. Build your own email server and everything else you want at home and stop whining.
              That is exactly the point. You cannot trust the other guy. You need to do it yourself. And it isn't that people are forced into using Google, it is that they were charmed into a false sense of security.

              It's getting harder and harder to evaluate LEGITIMATE issues with google from the people that just like to complain because they are happy when they are complaining about something thats popular.
              I wouldn't consider this a legitimate issue, I would think it was more of an annoyance. But it is still an issue because people do things they don't want others to know about. And when there was an expectation of privacy, even if it was minor, when that expectation gets removes, there needs to be adequate notice given and a means to get out. Even if it means not sharing anything at all.
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by anilg (961244)
                To add to that.. and to explain this issue better you need to see when and how the features were added.

                The 'sharing' feature was added earlier. It gave you a unique url that was a feed to your favorite items. It was 'public' but only you knew and could share that url to others. In a way that gave you privacy as you chose who saw things and who didn't. Google's own documentation said as much.

                Then came the Gtalk integration and suddenly everyone in your contact list is being subscribed to your 'private' feed.
          • by kestasjk (933987)
            Then use your own RSS feed aggregator, with cookies disabled, through tor, through privoxy, using a hacked wireless connection, on an OpenBSD machine, in your faraday cage in your wooden shack.

            It's good to err on the side of paranoia when it comes to privacy, but when talking about Google things can get really over the top.
            • by sumdumass (711423)
              You do realize that the situation isn't a matter of I expect privacy as much as privacy was offered and accepted by a few.

              It is a different story when your expecting some privacy because the provider told you the conductions would allow privacy to the extent you where willing to accept. This isn't some paranoid tinfoil hat wearing situation. It is a You expect A and all the sudden your getting B situation. Where A is your privacy to some great extent.

              Do no evil turned into a fubar capable of changing someon
          • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @04:19AM (#21813182) Journal

            BTW, if you were a closet homo, would you want you mom and dad to see that you were sharing Gay Marriage articles with your lovers?


            Heh. This sounds like it could be fun, actually, and I'm not even gay. I'm almost tempted to finally get a GMail account and start sharing some gay stuff just to see if mom will try to give me advice about _that_ too.

            Hmm, actually, now I'm getting even better ideas. Do they have some feeds about, dunno, bestiality or such?
          • by Chrisje (471362)
            All these people that are bitching and moaning about these "services" on "duh innernet" would be very wise to remember two things:

            1) Never look a gift-horse in the mouth.
            2) TANSTAAFL.

            If you want more control, you're going to have to pay. I pay 6 Euro's a month for web hosting / e-mail / domain registration and I've never been bothered to read RSS feeds. Having said that, I control my data. Anything that I even deem to sensitive for having on my hosted server is either on my local hard disk or I simply do no
        • by tedrlord (95173) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @06:48AM (#21813656)
          This is a problem, and it's simple and obvious if you look at it. Previously, you shared items, and your friends who knew the page could follow along. Now, you share items, and everyone who chat with or email you have that list right in front of them. Sure, your boss or mother in law could have previously searched around a while and probably found your shared list, but that violates social boundaries on their part, and you have reason to take issue with them for tracking your personal information online.

          Now, if they use Reader, they have a list right in front of them of all your interests, just like you have a list in front of you of theirs. If you're into BDSM, new earth creationism, or even (god help me) square dance, it takes a click for them to find out. If that was the original intent of the service, then it's your own damn fault, but beforehand Google put some effort into making it non-obvious to find your page if you didn't know where to look. You didn't have full security, but at least you had the "Why the hell were you tracking down all my personal information at 2am last night, you weirdo?" defense if they went that far.

          At first, I figured that Google entering into the social networking market was going to be a big move in their favor, and that they'd blow away the competition, but something like this makes me think that the "social" part is probably beyond their reach. I guess that's what you get when all their technology is designed by 20-somethings that live under their desks at the Googleplex.

          (An aside, I live within walking distance from Google, and when you go to the Safeway on Shoreline you can actually pick out all the Google-types. Skinny young guys traveling in twos or threes, talking slightly quietly and huddled together. The fact that more often than not they're wearing Google t-shirts helps.)
  • Ok right.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phil246 (803464) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:09PM (#21811348)

    Ive just had a quick check.
    There is a shared items area in my google reader, however none of my feeds are listed in there.

    that is to say - they are not shared by default.
    Granted, the feature is there but its hardly invading my privacy without me having a say in what can and cannot be displayed - and by default for me nothing is.
    • Re:Ok right.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ironfrost (674081) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:27PM (#21811498) Homepage Journal
      The summary is somewhat misleading - what people are complaining about is that items in the 'shared items' area are now shared with all your gmail contacts (which automatically includes anyone with a gmail account that you have sent an email to), rather than having to manually add contacts as before.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JPriest (547211)
      And this would be fine if the feature was always this way, but if they are going to change the behavior of the feature to be public to anyone you have had contact with, they should at least give you some warning about it in advance.
  • by pauljlucas (529435) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:09PM (#21811362) Homepage Journal

    One week ago Google Reader's team decided to begin showing your private data to all your GMail contacts.
    I never "got" why people fell all over themselves about GMail and getting a GMail account. I've kept my own domain and use it for e-mail. Should my mail provider do something I don't like, I'd move my mail to another provider and update my MX record. (FYI: my mail provider, registrar, and ISP are 3 different companies.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Because Google is the best company there has ever been at Internet marketing. It's just that simple.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I never "got" why people fell all over themselves about GMail and getting a GMail account.

      AJAX makes gmail easily one of the best user interfaces as far as webmail goes. Unlimited space, for all intents and purposes as an e-mail account goes. Free POP (and now IMAP) access. Solid spam filtering. The webmail interface is entirely searchable using Google's fast and easy search engine technology.

      In short, it's everything free e-mail providers like Yahoo and Hotmail promised, but never delivered on.

    • by pembo13 (770295)
      And what does this have to Google Reader exactly?
      • And what does this have to Google Reader exactly?
        The article summary specifically says, "... to begin showing your private data to all your GMail contacts." So if you use GMail and you have contacts (highly likely), then, according to the summary, all your private data are now visible to everybody on your GMail contact list.

        It's entirely possible that the Slashdot summary is wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.

        • by pembo13 (770295)
          The summary was incorrect, it used your Google GTalk, or whatever it is called, contacts... not the same thing.
        • by synx (29979)
          This comment is off base - your shared data is in fact now SHARED.

          Things that people cannot see:
          - what blogs you are subscribed to
          - what items you star
          - what you read or dont read

          etc

          In other words, when you share something, it is in fact shared.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Schlemphfer (556732)
      >I never "got" why people fell all over themselves about GMail and getting a GMail account.

      Maybe you don't know how terrific GMail's feature set now is. It has been steadily improving, and some recent additions give it compelling advantages over your current setup.

      You said you own your own domain that you use for your email account. Did you know that you can now forward all your email to Gmail, enjoy the benefits of a superb spam filter, and then use either Gmail's excellent web interface or an IMA

      • Maybe you don't know how terrific GMail's feature set now is ...

        I'm happy that you're happy with Gmail, but it's worth pointing out that the features you've mentioned are fairly standard things many of have taken for granted for years.

        Relative to other webmail offerings, I'm sure Gmail stands head and shoulders above the rest. But webmail is still webmail. And a browser is still a browser. No amount of features or fun interface tricks are going to change those facts, or make the inherent limitations go a
        • by adolf (21054)
          Standards? Even without the webmail interface, Gmail is a win as an IMAP server.

          The spam filter alone is worth the price of admission; it catches more shit than anything else I've been able to cook up, after years of fucking with spamassassin/amavis/postfix. It also integrates nicely with IMAP; dropping things in the spam folder in Thunderbird automatically tags and learns the message as being spam.

          They also host my personal domain's mail for free.

          No complaints from me.

      • You said you own your own domain that you use for your email account. Did you know that you can now forward all your email to Gmail, enjoy the benefits of a superb spam filter, and then use either Gmail's excellent web interface or an IMAP client?

        I carry a laptop everywhere, and I'm not willing to trust my email to someone's potentially keylogger-infested machine. Webmail buys me nothing except OS independence, and Thunderbird gives me that, if I cared.

        Did you know that you can now use Google to have your

        • by hab136 (30884)
          I used to do about what you describe, except I had also set up Horde Imp webmail [horde.org] on my own server for those times I didn't have a laptop with me. After several botched upgrades (webmail, IMAP, OS level, you name it), then drive failures (hooray mirroring) and then finally a power supply failure, I got tired of maintaining the whole setup, and switched to Google Apps [google.com].

          Doesn't change the from address. And if it did, that'd make me a bit more likely to be filtered, I'd bet.

          With Google Apps (and similar offerin

        • by adolf (21054)

          I pay less than $10/year for a domain. Everything else is done by a server I have running in my house.

          Is your time worth nothing?

          Yeah, I know. It's already set up and working. (I used to run Postfix at home, too.)

          So what happens when your house burns down, or your hard drive crashes? Sure, you've got (off-site) backups (right?), but even in the best scenario you'll still have half a day in fucking with finding/buying/assembling hardware, configuring a kernel for the new motherboard, restoring backups, an

      • You said you own your own domain that you use for your email account. Did you know that you can now forward all your email to Gmail, enjoy the benefits of a superb spam filter, and then use either Gmail's excellent web interface or an IMAP client?

        I already have a "superb spam filter." If were to use the same IMAP client I use now, well then there's no noticeable difference, so why bother?

        Did you know that you can now use Google to have your default return address be your custom domain name, so nobody eve

      • by empaler (130732)
        As someone else mentioned, you can use Google Apps for Your Domain. It's free up to 100 users, all with giant inboxes, POP and IMAP. And private area Google Docs - and Cal, Talk, etc.
        I use it extensively, as has my last two employers, plus a place I volunteer at. http://google.com/a/ [google.com] is the place to start. My best piece of advice: copy and paste the MX settings if your transfer. There's almost a system to their URLs to follow and then you make errors. HTH, and Merry Christmas :)
      • You said you own your own domain that you use for your email account. Did you know that you can now forward all your email to Gmail

        If I do that I give up all my privacy to google.

        enjoy the benefits of a superb spam filter

        Setting up Spamassassin is not that hard.

        and then use either Gmail's excellent web interface or an IMAP client?

        I use roundcube webmail installed on my own box when I am on the road, and kmail on my laptop. And the most important thing: my mail is on MY server, and not on googles. AND I can

    • I've kept my own domain and use it for e-mail.


      good luck if for some reason your registrar has a hiccup and a squatter registers your domain... as things stand now I prefer having my email on yahoo/google than on a personal domain just for this reason.
      • Yahoo?? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Locklin (1074657) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:44PM (#21811596) Homepage

        as things stand now I prefer having my email on yahoo/google than on a personal domain just for this reason.

        So you don't mind Yahoo pasting spam into your outgoing emails? Those little ads at the bottom of your emails from Yahoo (and msn) users are rather annoying. It's one thing to pay for the service by viewing ads, but it's another to pay for it by spamming non-users.

        • Those little ads at the bottom of your emails from Yahoo (and msn) users are rather annoying.

          Recently hotmail has been putting this line on outgoing messages:

          i'm is proud to present Cause Effect, a series about real people making a difference. Learn more [live.com]

          Apparently "i'm" is some sort of charity-sounding thing. But to the average reader, it looks like the sender just typoed "I'm proud to present..."

    • by Ross Finlayson (17913) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @02:11AM (#21812706) Homepage
      I agree. Serious professionals do *not* use "@gmail.com" email addresses. Sorry, they just don't. Ditto for "@yahoo.com", "@hotmail.com" etc.

      If you don't want to look like a noob, then don't use "@gmail.com" email addresses.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AySz88 (1151141)

        Serious professionals in the tech sector do *not* use "@gmail.com" email addresses.
        ...that's probably more accurate. I know of plenty of "professionals" in non-tech areas that use GMail, Hotmail, or even still AOL (gasp!). Plus, those who use GMail in the tech sector probably already know how to mask the fact that they use GMail, since you can use whatever domain name you want.
      • Because every professional just _has_ to keep his own SMTP server with multiple redundant mail drops, back-up and web interface, simplified interface for WAP/mobile devices and a spam filter, right?

        Instead professionals should simply get Google Apps for their domain and have Google Mail work as "professional@thatismydomain.com". Duh :)
  • I don't get it (Score:2, Informative)

    by lb746 (721699)
    This seems like they just added the same feature that make Del.icio.us such a popular sight. I can understand if this is sharing your pr0n folder with grandma, but if your using an RSS feed for that, than I'm just way behind the times I guess?

    Maybe someone with personal experience can help explain this better than the linked articles did. Did it automatically check all your previously stored items as being shared, or does it just default share everything?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Okay. Let's say you're a pagan or a Wiccan or a Druid or something like that. Your fundamentalist Christian family, all of which have gmail accounts because you sent them invitations because you thought it was soo cool, has no idea of your alternative religious beliefs. You've subscribed to feeds from Witchvox.com and a number of similar sites.

      What Google essentially did just 'outed' you to them.

      Speaking as neopagan practitioner and priest (out of the closet), I can say that this situation would be not b
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by X (1235) <x@xman.org> on Monday December 24, 2007 @11:34PM (#21811870) Homepage Journal
        For this scenario to play out, you'd have to click on "share" an article from these feeds. Free advice: if you are worried about privacy, don't click on things that say "share". If you do, you might want to unclick them quickly.
        • "Share", in this context, did not always imply sharing with the entire world.

          Yes, it perhaps wasn't the smartest choice by a lot of these people, but Google's actions, and specifically, their lack of a real response, is exactly the kind of "evil" they were trying to avoid becoming.
        • by joto (134244)

          I disagree. You may want to "share" these articles with your friends, even though you don't want to "share" them with your family. Which is exactly what many people did, they published their "private" URL containing their "shared" items to a select group of friends.

          Then google decided that anyone in you address book should be able to see your "private" URL. In other words, google unilaterally (and without warning) decided that everyone you've ever communicated with, using email, is now in your select grou

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Seumas (6865)
          On the other hand, just because I click on 'share', because I want to share something I found with my girlfriend and a couple of my buddies does not mean that I intended to share it with the guy I had a transaction with on ebay or the person I communicated with from Craigslist to sell them my used computer monitors or the person who emailed me to ask if I wanted to sell my domain name two years ago.

          If Google has any sense at all, they will re-engineer this function so that you have greater control over how
      • by Sxooter (29722)
        Or what if you're into BDSM or Queening, or like to write Star Trek Slash fiction.

        Is it really a good idea that what was previously a semi-private url is now available to your parents, children, boss, coworkers, and business contacts?

        This change was not thought out, and the change was made without any warning.

        What if you live in Iran and are Gay, and are subscribed to feeds on the subject of your sexuality, and you'd shared that with one or two close gay friends.

        You go into work monday morning and everyone
  • by hax0r_this (1073148) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:13PM (#21811400)
    but there seems to be a fairly obvious way to opt out. Its not sharing any of my private data, because I simply don't use the product.

    If you aren't willing to give Google what they want then why should Google give you anything?
  • Web applications (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:13PM (#21811408) Homepage Journal
    ...more often than not are proprietary software. An open source desktop application would more than likely to have a thousand options for customisation so that all the users are pleased, (gnome applications excluded of course). If you are running proprietary software on your desktop or a proprietary web application then you use what you are given.
  • It's quite a surprising mistake from Google, particularly when the merge with Double-Click "brings greater focus on privacy". Even if they claim that they fix some problems and offer more control to users, they could have make these fix before launching the service... but it's a beta. That's what you risk when you use free beta services.

    Furthermore, it is a good example of privacy lack of consideration, and it offers a good argument to privacy defenders. In addition, it highlights the fact that every se
  • by MrLint (519792) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:17PM (#21811438) Journal
    So I went looking for how this ruined x-mas for someone and found the link [google.com].

    It seems like to me that what started out as something that was shared turned into a pissing match between already barely tolerating each other family members. I fault this summary because intentional escalation of individuals is *not* the fault of google (or anyone other than the parties involved.
  • by cheebie (459397) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:22PM (#21811462)
    The laws of physics have begun exposing all of your private items to the world. In a stunning turn of events, it has been discovered that if you place things on your front lawn with a gigantic sign saying "Look at me!", people can freely see them.

    "This is outrageous", screamed Peter P Hysterical on the same forum where he documents every nanosecond of his life. "There's no opt out procedure, there's no whitelisting. It's just everyone looking at all the stuff I've decided to share."

    God, responding to inquiries said, "Look, if you don't want people to see your stuff, put it inside. I created walls for a reason."
    • by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @12:12AM (#21812108) Journal
      You do understand that telling one or two people something while it is "sharing" it with them, isn't the same thing as telling everyone that same thing right? And maybe the fact that so much of everything else is so public, that these few casually private pieces of life would mean more in this respect then an average joe not in the same position.

      The problem isn't that it was shared, it was who it was shared with changed and that meant things that you wouldn't tell you boss made it to him directly from you without any notice or any way to prevent it.
      • While I agree, what do you (and the rest of /.) think about the idea that once you share something on-line you can expect it to be available to everyone? I know that in the future I'm going to assume the stuff I share on Google is shared with everyone I have ever contacted through Google, and my gut is telling me that I should have always had this attitude. Maybe Google should just require to you accept your friends manually, just like everyone else (MySpace, Facebook, even MSN), and then, since we are alre
  • Misleading article (Score:4, Informative)

    by BlizzardandBlaze (1207664) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:22PM (#21811464)
    ...No need to opt-in, no way to opt-out...

    Not exactly. According to Google:

    "You can hide items from any friend you don't want to see, and you can also opt out of sharing by removing all your shared items."
  • by Satevis (1160823) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:31PM (#21811516)
    I'm relieved that I don't use Reader. If I did, I would probably have been sharing atheist and NSFW articles with my spouse and some close friends. I work in politics, and if that stuff had gotten out to other people on my contact lists, my career would have been over. I don't trust Google anymore.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mitchellsoft (239895)
      Just like the rest of the politicians, huh? The only way you or your group can stay in "power" is to lie to the people. Keep the faith, I guess.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mikesd81 (518581)
      Your spouse and close friends, I would think, would already know where you stand religiously and politically? God, oh sorry, knows my friends do.
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        I often read and send links to articles about religious stuff that doesn't reflect my beliefs. What if they know where you stand already and something like that made then doubt it? Everything in context is one thing. But you know as well as I do, if something suddenly appears outside your control, it is very difficult to keep it in context.
        • by mikesd81 (518581)
          Well, personally I'm trying to always be educated. My friends would just assume I'm doing research. But if you have to be worried about what your friends think of what you're looking at and your beliefs, then you need new friends. At any given time I can look at an article about Oakland Raiders to Free Masons to Hitler to an article on a new protocol. I've frequently done long hour of insane research just to learn and never felt I had to justify it. Now of course it would get shady if you're looking at art
    • Sadder... (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm not trying to justify Google here, but...

      You're in politics, and porn and atheism are enough to end your career.

      Not your fault, I'm sure, but that is sad.
  • A little more info (Score:4, Informative)

    by pembo13 (770295) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:31PM (#21811518) Homepage

    First of all, I had no idea what Google reader is: which already makes it a low privacy risk to me. So I did a google for Google Reader, and found this page: http://www.google.com/reader/view/#directory-welcome-page [google.com]. I'm not sure if the message on the side was always there, but it clearly states that it shares the data with "friends". "friends" being people on your google talk list.

    I watched the video introduction about it, and it didn't seem to require personal data to use. Nor did the article summary say what the personal data that it was sharing is. So I'm going to guess it is sharing what ever it is that it is helping you get.

    What this says to me is that people are still working with the assumption that things online apps hosted by third-parties help them to get it still private. I don't trust my ISP, farless Google. My lack of trust however, doesn't prevent me from consuming their useful services.

  • Does anyone know if it's possible to sign up to any of the job sites with Google Reader? Seems like a good way to drop a subtle hint to my boss.
  • by ai2097 (693562) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:45PM (#21811600) Homepage

    As many readers have commented, this does not seem like such a big deal. Shared stuff being public? Who cares? Don't do it, ya morons! And so on.

    I don't use GMail, or Google's reader. However, from TFA and the complaints, it appears as though there was a service where you could aggregate and re-publish feeds through a link that was not (automatically) published anywhere. Google changed the semantics of this, to mean that these "shared" feeds are now automatically available to everyone in your contact list. This (rightfully) has pissed off many existing users, who have invested their time into a system that they must now abandon, because most people have the concept of "mixed company." You don't talk about certain topics in certain groups -- you might be fine making dirty jokes around your regular friends, for example, but you behave yourself when you're at a professional lunch.

    So, this is not a matter of not using it -- it's a matter of bait-and-switch. The rules got changed out from under the user's feet, and that leads to a feeling of betrayal in the case where embarrassing information gets leaked. Google gave the impression that you were just hanging out with your friends, and then let in your stuffy colleagues while you were in the middle of telling The Aristocrats Joke [wikipedia.org].

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Monday December 24, 2007 @11:04PM (#21811708)
    From the original poster:

    No need to opt-in, no way to opt-out.
    From the initial, very first comment in the thread they link to:

    You can hide items from any friend you don't want to see, and you can also opt out of sharing by removing all your shared items.
    Sure, it's a pain: having to disable all of your shared items if you don't, you know, want to share. But it's not exactly "no way to opt-out" when the very first thing they do is tell you how to.

    Now, had they been straight and called it for what it is, "You're auto opted in and the only way to opt out is a painful and destructive process that devalues other aspects." then that would be one thing. Blatantly misrepresenting to jump to the head of the wambulance queue - to the point where it's hard to believe it was anything other than deliberate - just devalues your point and loses you all credibility, even for your valid points.
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      The no way to opt out wasn't the sharing. It was to opt out from sharing with just friends compared to everyone of your contacts. You see, your contacts might not be your friends and you might want to share to your friends but not all your contacts. Show when X turns into Y because of some arbitrary decisions, The opt out would be going back to X instead of option Z which is no sharing at all.

      The problem isn't really that they don't want to share, it is that they want to control who they share with.
  • I don't know why anyone would store anything important or personally sensitive anywhere on the internet anyway, unless you store everything encrypted. I've had close friends of mine under standing orders for years running to never email me anything of a personally sensitive nature, or at least understand that if they do, transmitting it via the internet is completely insecure. I read more and more about "online apps" instead of local apps, and online data storage companies, and I have to roll my eyes becaus
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gorbachev (512743)
      "I don't know why anyone would store anything important or personally sensitive anywhere on the internet anyway,"

      Because in this case the personally sensitive information is information about your interests and opinions that you may have selected to share only with a select few people, because you trust those people.

      However, Google has now decided to, without your express permission, share that same information with EVERYONE on your GMail contact list, which, I'm sure everyone knows, includes people who you
  • by pavera (320634) on Monday December 24, 2007 @11:45PM (#21811962) Homepage Journal
    Google Reader begins sharing public data in a new way.

    These were not "private" feeds, they were publicly available URLs (although obfuscated).

    I'm not necessarily siding with Google on this one. I do think they should have thought this change of functionality out a little more, but the fact remains this data was already public. Comparing it to the Beacon scandal is not accurate at all.
  • by nullhero (2983) *
    Per Google Reader Group they are only sharing the information that you asked them to share. And only with those that you have used Google Talk. I share things in Google Reader because I want other people to know what I'm reading, and what I find interesting. No where is there any private data, unless you count the profile that you create, which you can limit the amount of data that you place on that.

    Google isn't sharing any private user data. If you don't want to share anything then don't click the share i
    • by BokLM (550487) *
      Google isn't sharing any private user data

      It's not private data anymore, but it used to be before this change. That's why people are complaining.
  • Mr. Hand was right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcmonkey (96054) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @12:17AM (#21812142) Homepage
    You are all on dope.

    You give Google your private data, while they keep it private.

    Are the folks at Google like the magical elves that come out at night and fix shoes? No, Google is a business. The folks who own Google do it for the money. You give Google your private data, and they mine the stuff out of it. There's nothing private about it. Your private data, after you give it to Google, isn't private any more.

    • by pembo13 (770295)
      not that this story has anything to do with private data
    • by BokLM (550487) *
      Your private data, after you give it to Google, isn't private any more.

      That's wrong. Or at least that's not what google says, and not what many people think. But if it becomes true, then I guess many people will leave google for an other provider that respects your privacy and does not share your private data with the world.
  • by fluxrad (125130) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @01:01AM (#21812350) Homepage
    Funny, I actually didn't really care what /. editor posted which story until I read a couple of stinkers six months ago in which half the posters pointed out what a crappy editor kdawson was. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, then, to find this bit of FUD posted by the infamous editor as well.

    Seriously, the first link is to a self-referenced Slashdot Journal. The second link is to a google groups thread discussing how google shares with your friends data that you've opted to share with your friends!!!

    Seriously. This article is crap.
    • by Myopic (18616)
      +5, Insightful

      yeah, i've heard biatches about all the editors from time to time, but kdawson definitely has a different approval style than the other editors, and that difference is, imho, a bad difference.
  • You own your life. That is, the actions you take have repercussions, which you have to deal with.

    And that extends to the online world, too. My website, I know what I put on there could (theoretically :o) be read by someone and cause a reaction in my life. I choose to put a widget on it that any item I share in Google Reader is (up to the limit on the widget) displayed on my site. I take these things into account when I choose to put something on that site, when I choose to share an item in Google Reader. I
    • by BokLM (550487) *
      Yes, we already know we can share public things, and there is nothing wrong about that, that's not the problem we're talking about here. The thing we're talking about here is when some data that used to be private become shared.
  • wtf? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wandernotlost (444769) <[moc.cigamliart] [ta] [todhsals]> on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @01:46AM (#21812578)
    The headline and summary of this article are not only false, but probably illegal slander. In no way can the sharing of "shared" data be considered "sharing private data," whether or not some users fooled themselves into thinking it was private. If anything, this is a benevolent move on Google's part because it makes users more aware of the fact that data they are explicitly making public is, in fact, public.

    So fuck you, Slashdot, for lying to me and wasting my time.
  • Gotta love the woman who insists her christmas was ruined because her brother saw her political opinions that he didn't approve of. Is it Google's fault that her and her family has serious respect and acceptance issues? I could have seen if, perhaps, a boss saw this sort of thing, but not one's own brother. You'd expect Bro already knew she was whatever she was, and wouldn't have been surprised by her shared posts. It's not like Google forced him to read her share list, either. If she was hiding her politic
  • Stories like this are why I have virtually stopped reading slashdot.

A penny saved is a penny to squander. -- Ambrose Bierce

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