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Google's Real Name Policy, Why You Are the Product 374

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-price-yourself dept.
bs0d3 writes "Google tells their investors: 'Who are our customers? Our customers are over one million advertisers, from small businesses targeting local customers to many of the world's largest global enterprises, who use Google AdWords to reach millions of users around the world.' Site users don't seem to understand. It's not that it's free. It's that you are the product being sold. ThomasMonopoly points out, 'I'm unaware of any company that feels responsible to their product. And if I'm to understand that they're responsible to their customers, the advertisers, I don't want "the world's largest global enterprises" dictating my identity or choosing who in Syria is granted a voice on the world stage.'"
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Google's Real Name Policy, Why You Are the Product

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  • Marketing 123 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ge7 (2194648) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:15AM (#37308138)
    It shows that the "omg free stuff" marketing works to people. People also go crazy about coupons and all kinds of "give us permission to spa.. mail you and get these cool things" offers and everything else. Even many slashdotters go to great lengths to defense Google just because their stuff is free (and you don't need to use it if you don't want to!!). At the same time they're ranting how government and companies are violating their privacy, when they're themselves whoring it out.
  • Responsibility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brusk (135896) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:24AM (#37308176)

    I'm unaware of any company that feels responsible to their product.

    That's rather unimaginative. Lots of companies (or rather the people who run them) do show some responsibility toward their product. The first example that comes to mind is animal breeders: the good ones care about the animals they raise and have ethical standards in how they treat them, even when they are going to be sold as food (all the more so when they are going to become pets). Many artists certainly feel responsible toward their product, even when they sell it.

    To what extent is this true of Google? Time will tell, but it's unproductive to say that because they are in this to make money it's impossible for them to be responsible. The real question is what combination of public visibility/pressure, economic incentives, and regulation will lead to optimal outcomes.

  • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Insightful)

    by n5vb (587569) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:29AM (#37308212)
    The fact that Google is providing a free service has nothing to do with the fact that it's demanding control over how people identify themselves.

    No, you don't have to use G+ if you don't want to. But if they want to be the only channel you can use, then they have to accept that they are at least a de facto common carrier by doing so, whether or not they're considered one in a de jure sense, and by acting like a common carrier, they have certain responsibilities to the people who use G+ to communicate .. and that includes allowing people to identify themselves using their chosen expressions of identity.

    No, the law almost certainly doesn't say that -- because the law doesn't yet address situations like this as far as I know -- but it's consistent with how humans understand communication. And the trend in civil liberties is to place fewer restrictions on expressions of identity, not greater ones. One hopes the law catches up to this understanding soon, but that's the reality. We have the right to determine how people know us, and we have the right not to have that dictated to us based on an arbitrary legal distinction..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:30AM (#37308224)

    The TV networks only traffic'd in viewers in aggregate form, e.g. college-educated males aged 18-34 watch "Seinfeld" in such-and-such proportions.

    Google will use an ever-growing variety of tools to determine exactly what each man, woman, and child in the entire world is doing, thinking, buying, selling, and traveling to on a moment-by-moment basis, whether they're explicitly logged in or not. And this data will be stored, replicated, indexed, data mined, and peddled for at least the next 150 years. It will never go away.

    It wasn't long ago when Google was considered the protector of everyone's all-important right to obtain any piece of digital content for free. I remember thinking, you guys are fools. Sony, Warner, and EMI want to charge us ten or fifteen bucks for a CD. They'll take their cash and be out of the picture. Google wants to own us forever. They or their successors and customers will be publishing the dirty laundry of how each of individually led our lives long after we're dead.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:34AM (#37308240)

    It's been the staple of "free" commercial TV. You, the viewer, are not the "valued customer". You're the product, to be sold to the ad companies. Why the outcry now?

    I don't think it's good or that I feel like it's ok to "sell" me, but, people, if you really just noticed that now, I wonder where you've been the last 50 years.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:35AM (#37308258)

    Google is not "more evil". They just have the better tools, if NBCBSwhatever had the tools, they'd do EXACTLY the same.

    Companies see you as a way to make money. By selling to you, or by selling you. Either is fine by them.

  • Re:Responsibility (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:42AM (#37308298)

    The closer the "boss" of a company is to the product, the more he cares about the quality. Hence I prefer to buy at small shops to huge corporations. Not only is my 200 bucks purchase important to the small shop while it's at best peanuts to the corporation that writes its balance in thousands of USD because else the numbers get too big to manage. The shop owner also cares about his shop and its reputation, he will make sure that his employees are going to represent it well and they will care about word of mouth. Nobody working at a huge corporation gives half a shit about its reputation or whether the company is doing well or flounders.

    Be honest: Do you care about the company you work for? I don't. My current employer is a huge, faceless corp without any personal investment from anyone working there. Why should I? It was something completely different when I worked in a much smaller (~20 people) company, I knew the boss on a first name base because he sat an office away from me, and I could see how much he worked to make the company a success, and it encouraged and motivated me to do the same. I wanted him to succeed because I saw how he did his best to make the company a success, and I admire people who put their heart and sweat behind something.

    Currently? I couldn't care less whether they sink or swim. If they go down, I hop on the next train. IT sec is currently on the rise, it's not like I will be out of a job any time soon.

  • Here's What's New (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday September 05, 2011 @10:45AM (#37308308)

    What's new is that Google has found success (initially, at least; people seem to be wising up lately) among the self-proclaimed and self-absorbed digerati crowd that heretofore viewed themselves somehow above the Marketing that always suckered in the mere mortal consumers beneath them. The smug, sniffy, MS-hating, open source espousing, latte-drinking, Starbucks-frequenting hipsters with fifty-dollar haircuts all fell for the warm gooey spin that using Google products made them better people -- which would have been hilarious just-desserts if it hadn't had the unfortunate side-effect of increasing their market share so much.

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:03AM (#37308436)

    "You are the product! Ooga-booga-booga!!1"

    It's just a sound-byte meant to whip you into an outrage by equivocating advertising with slavery.

    Company X provides a product.
    You, the customer, pay for it with tiny portions of your time.
    Company X then sells those bits of time to other companies.

    You are not being sold. You are willingly looking at a few ads in exchange for a product. I know outrage feels good. It's like a drug. But find something real to be outraged over.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:05AM (#37308454)

    The fact that something happens and is known, by those who make the effort to think about it, to happen does not make it reasonable, fair or acceptable.

    The fact that there are other companies which do even worse things doesn't make it good either. Nor does it matter that the evil company has a slogan which implies that it will do no evil, if they still do evil.

    Comments like this, "You don't have to use Google if you don't want to." are breathtakingly dumb (surely you're just trolling? mensababe?). When use of a service makes it so much easier to carry out business than the old way, people will tend to migrate to it. If use of all the rival services incur much the same penalty in the form of your data being packaged and sold, then the people do not have a choice. They are forced to use the service - or live in a cave.

    Why not set up a rival business providing the same service but without the nefarious bits? Because nobody would finance it because the profits would be so much smaller when the rival companies are able to collect and package the highly profitable user data. For it to become viable the collection of user data has to be restricted by law.

    That is where governments should step in and mandate that the collection of user data be separated from payment for the service. If a user signs up the company should not be able to tie that contract in to an agreement to give up personal data too.

    Governments don't step in because they are in the pockets of big business. They too want to drive up revenue because each transaction means more money for the government and more funding for grandiose schemes.

  • by DaleGlass (1068434) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:08AM (#37308476) Homepage

    OSS doesn't have anything to do with marketing though. That's just how Google does things.

    OSS usually earns money through support and custom solutions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:09AM (#37308484)

    You don't have to use Google if you don't want to.

    Yeah and you can email your resume in .tex format for jobs too because you hate Microsoft and Adobe. If the only way you can successfully advertise your product online is through advertising companies like Google, then you have little "choice". I suppose a child like you has to learn about lock-in caused by network effects. Don't worry you can leave the thinking to others if it hurts your brain.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:23AM (#37308576) Journal

    I do NOT care! I know I am a product to google and radio station and tv channels and I don't care because I don't use them.

    Do you think slashdot is any different? Samzenpus, were does your salary come from? Readers or advertisers? Anything that sells more views is a go right? That is why headlines are often widely inaccurate and story angled chosen to raise the maximum ire so there will be lots of ads impressions.

    Google isn't making a soap box it isn't making the next facebook, it has seen linkedin and liked it and thought it could do more with it. I got several gmail accounts, including some totally fake ones and some real ones. I am not intrested in google+ because frankly my live ain't intresting enough to share. Did a massive dump in the toilet, posted on slashdot, that is about it for today...or was it the other way around.

    Some nutters think that Google owes them a public forum on which they should be able to say whatever they want, provide zero revenue for Google, annoy Googles paying customers at will and basically be complete an utter assholes... well, silly Google for not wanting to do that.

    If you care so much about some guy in Syria, run your own website that allows free speech. Enjoy the gigantic bill and zero income. Oh, your bleeding heart doesn't extend to your wallet? How un-expected.

    Google+ is a social site with real id's because that is what google has decided. Don't like it, don't use it. There are plenty of sites that require real data and plenty that don't. Make a choice and stop trying to convince everyone that YOUR choice is the right one and they are so wrong for thinking different. I almost feel like signing up for google+ now just to spite the privacy freaks... but nobody invited me yet... waaaaaaaah!

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:30AM (#37308652)
    hahaha, of course Microsoft's customer is The Corporation, they don't give a flying fuck about the rights of individuals. That's why your windows desktop is a combination billboard, snooper and pinball machine for marketers.
  • Re:Marketing 123 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:02PM (#37308892) Homepage

    It shows that the "omg free stuff" marketing works to people.

    It doesn't work on you, though, right? You're too smart for that stuff.

    But oh, wait... what's this? Look at the site you're posting on. Slashdot is a "free" website supported by ads. You are not Slashdot's customer, you are their product. Same thing, and you fell for it. So of course many Slashdotters will defend the ad-supported model. If you were truly against the ad-supported model, you wouldn't be reading this site.

  • by plasm4 (533422) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:22PM (#37309058) Journal
    For the same reasons you pay for a fire department, military equipment, soldiers, public education, roads, bridges, national parks, scientific research, and a thousand other things. At least with the BBC if you haven't got a TV you don't pay the license fee. It's nice to have tv programming that doesn't have to cater to the lowest common denominator.
  • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:55PM (#37309280) Homepage

    My thoughts, exactly. If you listen to radio, you are not the customer -- you're the product. If you watch television, you are not the customer -- you are the product. If you read most magazines (even if you pay for them), you are not a customer -- you're the product. When it comes to media of all kinds, you are the product far more often than you are the client.

    But it's not as simple as that, because nobody is a mindless drone who will watch, listen to, or read anything you put in front of them. A magazine isn't 100 percent advertising (in fact that would be illegal by postal regulations in the U.S.) Advertisers wouldn't try to advertise on a radio station that played nothing but a 50Hz tone all day. And in fact, advertisers pick and choose which markets they target based on the content of that media; you might get a lot of drug companies advertising during 30 Rock, for example, but fewer during House. It's really clever and postmodern to say "the viewer is the product," but it's also not really true. Advertisers are paying for access to specific content, which they think appeals to a market that interests them. They want to reach the customers, true, but in order to do so they rely on the content -- so the content is the product. Or why else do you think media companies spend so much money to produce content -- as a loss leader?

  • by bonch (38532) * on Monday September 05, 2011 @04:22PM (#37310564)

    What's new is that Google has found success (initially, at least; people seem to be wising up lately) among the self-proclaimed and self-absorbed digerati crowd that heretofore viewed themselves somehow above the Marketing that always suckered in the mere mortal consumers beneath them. The smug, sniffy, MS-hating, open source espousing, latte-drinking, Starbucks-frequenting hipsters with fifty-dollar haircuts all fell for the warm gooey spin that using Google products made them better people -- which would have been hilarious just-desserts if it hadn't had the unfortunate side-effect of increasing their market share so much.

    Your post is getting pulled back and forth by moderators because it tells a hard truth. Google fans have become as annoying as hardcore Apple fans. They bought into "don't be evil"--a bit of tongue-in-cheek engineering humor--and built up a religion around the company. Because Google competed with Microsoft, that endeared them to techies who saw themselves as too smart to be using Microsoft products. Because Google used Linux, that endeared them to "M$"-hating nerds who saw Google as part of the open source movement. Android because the rallying cry for cross-armed, anti-social cynics standing in the corner of the party watching the iPhone users socialize.

    Finally, people have begun to wake up to the fact that Google is not what they perceived it to be. Their refusal to implement Do Not Track [wired.com] in Chrome, which would negatively impact their core business of web ads, is one example. Another is the fact that they claim to be all about openness yet withhold the source to Android from non-privileged partners, as well as ship Flash and AAC/MP3 playback in Chrome. They're even using Android compatibility requirements as a way to obstruct phone vendors that choose not to use Google services. And the Street View scandal is interesting because many don't seem to realize they were "accidentally" collecting that data for four years before finally revealing it under pressure from German investigators (Google fans seem to believe that Google stepped forward and admitted it on their own as a gesture of good will).

    However, for so many years, mentioning any of this on tech sites like Slashdot, Reddit, Hacker News, and so on would get you voted down relentlessly by obsessive fans who could not accept any criticism of their hero. Google's purpose in appealing to those crowds--and I wouldn't be surprised if Google employees secretly post here and at other sites to help in this--is to win the support of techie communities, who will then defend them and give them a pass for things that companies like Microsoft could never get away with. It's free advertising.

    The biggest success story, in my opinion, is convincing techies that they are an open source company and making them forget that their core business is built on a closed source search engine. Google are the gatekeepers of the web, a global megacorp that single-handedly regulates web traffic which makes it enormous profits. It doesn't seem to occur to the open source crowd that the web is tied up behind a closed source product that is as closed and proprietary as Windows. You don't have access to the source; you can't view it and see the algorithms it's using; you can't examine how it's using your personal data. For a crowd that's always so vigilant in attacking other companies for being closed, their acceptance of Google is incredible.

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

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