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Google Privacy Social Networks Your Rights Online

The Phantoms of Google+ 214

Posted by timothy
from the you-who-are-not-are dept.
theodp writes "Engadget reports that Google wants a patent on its System and Method for Generating a Ghost Profile for a Social Network. The brainchild of five Googlers, the invention is designed to convert anti-social-networking types to the joys of Google+ and its ilk. From the patent: 'A problem arises when users of social networks are friends with people that are opposed to social networks. The second group misses out on an important social component. For example, many users only share their photos on a social networking site. As a result, users that do not want to join the social network are forced to either join with reservations or miss out on the social component, such as viewing pictures.' By generating an unsearchable 'ghost profile' when a member of the social network invites a Google+ adverse friend to join, Google explains, non-believers get to participate in social networking activities without providing user information."
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The Phantoms of Google+

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  • nope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:01PM (#39534967)

    Sounds like a grab to boost G+'s userbase beyond Wil Wheaton and Google engineers.

    Not gonna touch Google+ until they get rid of their "real names" policy and I'm not inclined since I've invested so much of my online social life with Facebook.

    • Re:nope (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chrisq (894406) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:06PM (#39535007)

      Sounds like a grab to boost G+'s userbase beyond Wil Wheaton and Google engineers.

      Not gonna touch Google+ until they get rid of their "real names" policy and I'm not inclined since I've invested so much of my online social life with Facebook.

      Do you use your real name on Facebook? Seriously a lot of people complain about the "real name" policy even though they use it openly on Facebook. This may or may not be hypocritical, I suppose if you keep your porn collection on Picasa....

      • Re:nope (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 (626475) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @02:22PM (#39535535) Homepage Journal
        I don't get what people out there think.....somehow it must be groupthink that if you're not on FB and/or Google+ or twitter or xyz social network, that you are being left behind in the dark ages, alone in the cold with no contact with human life any longer.....that you have lost every friend you've gathered in life to this point.

        Seriously, I don't have any accounts on these networks, and I don't intend to, there is just too much trade of IMHO, for my privacy.....to join up on one of these. I mean, even with a fake name.....they've shown they can figure out who you are with who you associate...etc.

        Seriously, I've not missed an even with any of my friends...I've not missed a picture I'd want to see.....

        I stil do this weird thing, and see my close friends regularly in meatspace....I call them, I email directly with them, sometimes *gasp* with multiple of us on the same email thread?!?!

        This way...the conversation, pics and what-have-you...are just between us and not out for the rest of the world to gawk at, and have corporations (and governments) use all that info to advertise or worse at me.

        Seriously....it isn't painful.....I don't miss a thing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Overzeetop (214511)

          There are two possibilities:

          (1) all your friends are Luddites, too.

          (2) you are the person everyone complains about and has to spend extra time tracking down because you're the only one not using the new technology.

          If you want to skip the whole FB/G+ thing, it's not a huge deal. But please, don't complain if you start getting left out of shit. I know some people like you and, quite honestly, I tend to simply not invite them to do meatspace stuff half the time. It's too much effort. Part of my being able to r

          • Re:nope (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2012 @03:33PM (#39535945)

            How does wanting to have real and personal contact with people make them luddites? I didn't think forming and maintaining relationships was something that could become outdated.

            People like you are sad and self-centred. The fact that you think you're so important that people are going to be left out validates that. If a friend can't take a couple minutes out of their oh so busy day to contact me personally, then they are no friend at all and I would rather be "left out" of their dealings.

            This is the only redeeming value I place in social networks, their existence sometimes helps me to weed out the fake from the real. I haven't gotten to the point of outright rejecting people as friends because they want to use social networks but if someone ever pulled the crap you do, I remove them from my life.

            Relationships aren't something that automatically last. They require nurturing and care. If you're too busy to take care of them, they wither and die.

            • This is the only redeeming value I place in social networks, their existence sometimes helps me to weed out the fake from the real.

              I totally hear this - to an extent towards friends (most of my arrangements are made through email, phone and text), but even more so towards corporations. If they want me to sign up for something on Facebook, they don't want me to sign up. If they're too lazy to make their own webpage, they don't want me to see their webpage. If they're making offers through a third party, they're not making an offer.

              The worst was when there was an organization trying to arrange emergency contact information through survey

            • Re:nope (Score:5, Interesting)

              by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday March 31, 2012 @08:19PM (#39537653) Homepage Journal

              I find social networking to be most useful not so much with friends (though it's great there, allowing me to stay in touch with many more people than I could without it), but with family. Perhaps you don't come from a large family, but I do, and my wife does, and our combined extended families exceed 200 people. We're only close to maybe 50 of them, but sufficiently close to all of them that keeping updated about important life events -- jobs, kids, illnesses, etc. -- is of great value to all of us. And with social networks we can have much more frequent interactions than that. I have cousins I wouldn't normally speak to for more than a few minutes per year at family reunions, but with Google+ I "talk" to them multiple times per week.

              I also find it to be a great way to keep in touch with old acquaintances. Over the course of my 40+ years of life, I've accumulated a lot of friends who've since moved of my life, but I like them and am interested in what they're doing and thinking.

              By lowering the effort required to connect and communicate, social networking applications make it feasible to be connected to more people -- and lots of people like that! You may prefer to have only a very small circle of very close friends and avoid others, but if so you're the exception, not the rule. I have a small number of friends that I talk to daily, one way or another. But I keep in touch with a much larger group of people, and social networks make it possible for me to keep in touch with even more.

          • 3) Friends and self aren't 'tards who post about not being able to find product ??? at the store and have no interest in hearing about that happening to others.

            "Just realize that if you have friends who are on social sites, they're probably leaving you out - intentionally or unintentionally - because if you're not on them you're simply not around for all of the conversations."

            Clue to you. Your friends *don't* leave you out through neglect. Not in the base definition.
          • Re:nope (Score:5, Insightful)

            by epyT-R (613989) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @04:24PM (#39536275)

            1. all your friends are clueless about the privacy concerns or just don't give a damn for consequences in general.

            2. you are the person everyone complains about because he's always too busy playing 'social' rather than BEING social, like actually doing things with his friends.

            If you want to bandwagon hop on to every new e-thingie churned out by corpgovX, it's not a huge deal. But please, don't complain if you are judged out of context on information you put up there 10 years ago under completely different life circumstances and cultural status quo. These include judgment by current/potential employers, law enforcement agents, banks, and insurance companies. Just because it's innocuous today does not mean it will always be. I know some people like you, and quite honestly, they're very cavalier about others' personal information, posting pics without permission (fb and google are doing automated face recog or will be soon) and talking about personal issues online for all to see. People like you trade their friends' privacy for personal convenience, and then justify it with little more than a flippant attitude and self-serving arrogance. It's not worth having such people as friends. Using strawman arguments to further your case when pressed does little to bolster the lack of respect you've already engendered.

            I'm sure there are lots of situations where personal information ends up public knowledge as a result of normal human interaction, but this is not the same as such data being stored and transmutated in corporate/government databases, accumulating over time, until used by someone who wants control over your behavior in some way, often by misrepresenting facts, much as you've done here.

            This G+ thing is a way of forcing those who have conciously opted out to join out of attrition, because now the data will be collected whether they put it there or not. The process will take longer and likely will not be as specific/useful as the accounts owned by morons who post their entire lives online, but the info could still end up damaging. This is true even if it is incorrect because it place the 'ghost' person in a reactionary position of having to fight with the provider to correct it and save face.

          • (2) you are the person everyone complains about and has to spend extra time tracking down because you're the only one not using the new technology.

            I don't mind advertising, I just don't want to be "on call" 24/7 to everyone I've met in the last 50yrs. I don't own/use a mobile phone, FB, etc. This situation pisses other people off a lot more than it inconveniences me.

      • For me, I am addicted to gmail, but dislike the purpose of google+ - an identity service for gmail (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2011/08/29/googles-eric-schmidt-says-plus-is-an-identity-service-not-a-social-network/). So I want to keep my sweet sweet email candy without having to show my papers.
      • Do you use your real name on Facebook?

        Yes I do! So do all my friends...except for one or two. So?

        One thing that non-clueless people who've actually been paying attention have noticed is that there's a lot of people on FB who DO NOT choose to use their real name. Not all, or even most of them are paranoid Ted Kaczynski types hiding out in log cabins. I've noticed a lot of young black men especially tend to change their FB name to something creative or different.

        It's just another form of self expression. Why the fuck would you prevent your users

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by iamhassi (659463)

      Sounds like a grab to boost G+'s userbase beyond Wil Wheaton and Google engineers.

      no, it's far worse than that: Google is creating a "ghost" profile by mining your youtube, gmail, searches, android phone, etc, and they're going to tell you whenever your friends and family do something by emailing you, etc, to compel you to login to the ghost profile they created for you.

      So much for "don't be evil". This sounds about as evil as it gets, stealing your data and subscribing you up for a service you never wanted.

    • by icebike (68054) *

      Sounds like a grab to boost G+'s userbase beyond Wil Wheaton and Google engineers.

      Not gonna touch Google+ until they get rid of their "real names" policy and I'm not inclined since I've invested so much of my online social life with Facebook.

      The real names policy has been relaxed, but that doesn't mean they don't already know precisely who you are.

      What's more worrying is that this Patent they are applying for, if used by them, violates their own Privacy Policy, and their own openness pledge. After being dragged through a knot hole by the FTC and Congress, It seems unlikely they will actually put this into service any time soon.

      I doubt this is being used yet. There is nothing on my Google Dashboard [google.com], even tho I've ignored multiple invites to G+

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:03PM (#39534989)

    Simple as that.

    I'm not joining. You won't monetize or profile me. If that means I quit sharing certain things with social junkies, then so be it.

    I'm not your datapoint and I never will be.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:37PM (#39535231)

      I'm not your datapoint and I never will be.

      Says who? You? Since when were you the law?

      You are valuable data whether you want to be or not.
      This includes mail records of you acceptability for certain mail by coalitions (such as vouchers, sports mailing list previews, spam and various other things), insurance, medical, hell, even in some cases "threat level" if you ever hit any flags.

      Somebody can sit there on the side of a road, recording you and thousands of others going past in cars, recording said information without your permission.
      Want to know why? Because you are on public property.
      Despite what you (and many others sadly) think, the internet is public property if it contains 3rd party access. Unless that site is fully-contained within its own domain, you are free to be recorded, marked and scrutinized by whatever, whenever.
      As long as that information isn't published to others directly, they are free to manipulate it for whatever nefarious purposes.
      Google, nor do most of the hundreds of other advertising agencies, directly identify people in ad networking systems.

      So, please, don't worry your head over it. Government-mandated records contain far more information on you than Google could ever hope to get from you.
      From your dental health to your shoe-buying habits.
      Everyone always calls Britain the Big Brother country, the Police-State. Most governments record these things. Some far more, some far less.
      The UK barely even has any CCTV, actually. And most of them in those stupid reports were PRIVATE cameras. The silly thing was making it out like there was a camera in every street corner or something... hilarious if you ask me.

      If you are really that paranoid over Google, god forbid you could get access to all your records. Stacks upon stacks of folders on everyone, still recorded on paper in the unlikely event that our entire electrical infrastructures fail and we lose everything. (not sure why "Steve McRobertson bought a candied Apple, milk and bacon in 1978" would be useful for any long-term reasons")
      You might as well just fake your death and go live in some random forest, the forests don't care about stalking you. Unless it is those damned forests in horror stories who want to gobble up little children. WHY

      • by kent_eh (543303) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @02:19PM (#39535505)

        You are valuable data whether you want to be or not.

        I am intentionally an inaccurate datapoint.

        I know I can't control that a lot of information is being collected without my knowledge or consent.
        So whenever I do get a choice, I'll provide information that is either inaccurate, ambiguous, or flat out contradictory to what is already known about me.

        The more polluted their databases are, the less valuable it is to them, and thus the less influence they have over my life.
        At least that's my hypothesis.

        • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @02:59PM (#39535765)

          I am intentionally an inaccurate datapoint.

          I know I can't control that a lot of information is being collected without my knowledge or consent.
          So whenever I do get a choice, I'll provide information that is either inaccurate, ambiguous, or flat out contradictory to what is already known about me.

          The more polluted their databases are, the less valuable it is to them, and thus the less influence they have over my life.

          At least that's my hypothesis.

          Sorry to tell you this - but it's not working, Mr. James Harrison of Baltimore, Maryland.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        1. what is isn't necessarily what should be, which is the implied debate here.

        2. there are limits to what you can do to someone on public (or your own) property. you cannot rape them for instance, or murder them, or steal from them. the issue is over whether personal info is personal property.

        3. the data points by themselves may be innocuous, but together, or possibly with enough timeshift and cultural evolution, they could very well become so.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:45PM (#39535293)
      You already are a data point. You've no idea how sophisticated the software that monitors what you do has gotten. I was recently involved in an integration with some of this sort of software on a site that gets a couple of million hits a day. It's amazing what they can do. If you go to a website, they will, regardless of your desires, browser settings, even proxies, know exactly what you do while there, and if you come back. They then share all this with other companies to build a profile of you. The simple fact that you say you don't want to be tracked ironically gives them an excuse to track you. They have to log your desire to not be tracked right? Then the store all your website activity by other methods, like IP Address, browser, OS, and a hundred other data points.... which builds a profile of you, without building a profile of you. They can claim this is just standard logging for security. Then, if you ever enter your email address or phone number on the site, they make the convenient assumption that you've changed your mind about your privacy. And here's the kicker, they don't just assume you've changed your mind going forward, they assume you've change your mind about the past to! So they drag up all your past traffic and attach it to your email address. Everything you do on the web is tracked and logged in excruciating detail by marketing departments all over the world. So far we're lucky that the government hasn't gotten access to this data yet, but it's only a matter of time.
    • by Goaway (82658) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @02:00PM (#39535385) Homepage

      And then you get angry at them when they provide you with a way to AVOID giving them information?

      • And then you get angry at them when they provide you with a way to AVOID giving them information?

        Avoid my ass.

        This isn't about avoiding giving google more information, it's about another way for google to get more information about you.

        Consider the two scenarios here:

        1) Refuses to use google+ - google gets the email address the "invitation" went to and nothing else.

        2) Uses one of these phatom accounts - google gets your IP address, your browser fingerprint probably drops a cookie on your browser and they get your link to the friend who "invited" you, and can link that with any other friend whose "invit

    • I had a FaceBook account, but started seeing the writing on the wall - the stalking that you see, the targeted ads, the government getting involved, etc - bailed out with 5 minutes notice to my friends. Pretty much said, if you have my email address, you're important, if not, you've got 5 minutes for me to think about giving it to you. *poof* - done.

      That was 2 years ago and I haven't looked back. I don't belong to any of those sites now and I won't do so later either. I actually go so far as to block FaceBo

  • Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:04PM (#39534991)

    Remind me again why I want to participate in social networking?

    This is the biggest / most ridiculous case of "because it's there" in the history of our species.

    • Re:centralization (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:10PM (#39535043)

      Its part of the urge to centralise.

        When we are presented with more distributed services such as email, setting up your own wordpress installation, or IRC server, everyone gives there entire online existence to google, twitter & facebook.

      This is better because we are putting more, bigger eggs in the worlds largest basket, which doesn't have keep eggs safe on its agenda

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Remind me again why I want to participate in social networking?

      This is the biggest / most ridiculous case of "because it's there" in the history of our species.

      Because you suck at talking with people in real life, which is why you're instead posting to strangers on the internet.

    • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyYar (622222) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:23PM (#39535133)

      Remind me again why I want to participate in social networking?

      Convenience?

      It's much easier to just go to facebook when I need to contact someone rather than keep their information up-to-date in at least one address book.

      It's much easier to post a baby announcement on facebook than to send out individual emails.

      Casual multiplayer games are much more fun when your friends are the opponents (e.g. Words with Friends).

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Oligonicella (659917)
        "It's much easier to just go to facebook when I need to contact someone..."

        Click email icon, click desired recipient, type email, click send. Rough stuff.

        "It's much easier to post a baby announcement on facebook than to send out individual emails."

        Group email. You know, take the time you did with FB and include those you want in the group. No difference.

        "Casual multiplayer games..."

        You have me there. No interest in Farmville whatsoever.

        Everyone keeps listing reasons *THEY* like FB and th
        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          Click email icon, click desired recipient, type email, click send. Rough stuff.

          Assuming your friends still look at their personal email accounts. I know some people who only check theirs once every couple of weeks, if they remember. Facebook seems to have taken over.

        • by Lord Crc (151920)

          Group email. You know, take the time you did with FB and include those you want in the group. No difference.

          Big difference: you don't have to know the details for everyone in the group. It's enough that at least one member of the group knows the details, but it doesn't have to be you. And different people can know the names of different people, and invite them to the group.

          Due to this I'm now effortlessly chatting with my gaming clan from 2004, which split up many years ago, and I only recalled the name of one of them.

          Can it be done via email and such? Yes. But I must say Facebook makes it a lot easier and more c

    • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:45PM (#39535299)

      I've been (and deep-down still am) one of these anti-social-network types. Sadly, I felt that I had no other choice but to create a Facebook profile after friends and family started using it to discuss plans and all sorts of stuff, and I kept being the last person to find out about, well... everything. I still get a sickening feeling from how basically such a large part of my social life now takes place on a for-profit company's website whose apparent clients are advertisers and I am the product it is offering, but it was litterally becoming a choice between being a social outcast or joining Facebook.. sigh. :|

      • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @05:52PM (#39536839) Journal

        And if it was 100 years ago, you'd be forced to get a phone if you didn't want to become a social outcast, too. The reason for the uptake of all this tech is really simple: it makes communication more convenient. No, really, it does, and people who keep suggesting "group email" etc just don't get it - it's like saying that you shouldn't be using a text processor because doing so only indicates that you're too lazy to learn how to type with a typewriter.

        The problem with this round is that the tech comes with considerable strings attached. In theory, phone calls are also data-minable, it's just that we didn't have the capability to do so efficiently back then. Today, we have that, and we don't even need it that advanced any more because the (mostly text + some images) social networking communications are trivial to extract useful information from. So it gets done. Many geeks are rightly worried about that - but they make for an insignificant minority, and most people really don't care if their personal information ends up in a database somewhere; all they care is for that information to not come out and embarrass them (and they will be very mad if and when it does - but not until then).

    • Remind me again why I want to participate in social networking?

      Because it's much better to make one company the complete arbiter of all of your interpersonal communication than to give lots of competing companies a small and replaceable slice of it. No, I don't understand it either.

  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Georules (655379) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:05PM (#39535001)
    This will be HUGE! We all already knew that G+ was a ghost town. Suddenly, G+ will have TONS of active ghost members.

    Didn't get enough people at the party? Code them into the system instead. Oh, and patent it.
  • by Nyder (754090) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:08PM (#39535017) Journal

    Yes, force people who do NOT want to be social to be social, that is a great way to get product support.

    Stupid fucking gits.

    If that shit worked, I'd be religious.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @03:23PM (#39535897) Journal

      Yes, force people who do NOT want to be social to be social

      Please can we not conflate not wanting to be part of a massive centralised communications system controlled and monitored by a single unaccountable entity with not wanting to be social?

    • If that shit worked, I'd be religious.

      Heh. You are.

      Well, you're Mormon [wikipedia.org] anyway, eventually.

      Cheer up, you're in good company. Hitler's Mormon, too, and he plays a mean game of Canasta in Heaven :)

  • by Idimmu Xul (204345) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:09PM (#39535033) Homepage Journal

    As soon as the marketers get bored of abusing G+ for SEO purposes, it's going to die a quick death.

    Other than the RSS feed posts, it's dead air anyway.

  • by jabberwock (10206) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:19PM (#39535093) Homepage
    ... has done just an excellent job in separating out, among all my friends and acquaintances, those who want me to spend my life looking at their photographs or mouse-clicking through Zynga games. And it largely segregates them.

    Works for me.
  • by fast turtle (1118037) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:21PM (#39535117) Journal

    I've been on G+ since it was incepted when the damn Meme about a real name started. Guess what. Google has never required a Real Name for it as long as you have a valid Log-In for their services. Those who only used GDocs/Gmail were fine. Even iGoogle (start page), Picasa or Google Groups worked if you had a log-in. The only service that has ever required a Real Name was Orkut due Brazil and the South American Problems. For EU/US/Asia, Orkut has been a non-starter as it's never been pushed for us to use it due to Picasa.

    • by Daetrin (576516) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:34PM (#39535207)
      I've also been on G+ since it got started, and although i have managed to slip under the radar, several friends and people i know got nailed by the real name policy. Their algorithm for detecting "fake" names is crap, but the shit you have to deal with if you get targeted is real.
      • by subsoniq (652203)
        They revoked their real name policy a couple of months ago, you can use any name you want now.
        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @03:42PM (#39536011)

          No they did not. What they did was revoke the requirement to share your real name with everybody else on google+. They still require it internally, they just let you use one or more fake names for interacting with other people. That's only a marginal improvement because the database is still just as much a risk to your security.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            I'd be amazed if Google didn't know your real name by now anyway. I'm surprised it doesn't suggest it when you sign up for G+.

    • Sure the terms of service specifically state that you must use your real name in your G+ profile and there is documented evidence of Google shutting down G+ accounts due to fake names, and Google has stated in public that they will start allowing pseudonyms but only if they are already well-established. But I managed to use a fake name without getting caught so it must all be a bunch of blogosphere hype.

  • Is somewhat a need, a lot of people could be already creating alternate profiles to not "pollute" their main ones.

    The main problem i have with it is... well, a lot are already doing it (manually, without any ties to their main profile), so doesnt it count as prior art? Even slashdot's anonymous coward (and posting at it even if logged) could count as that. Well, that, and that you even having one of such ghost profiles, you are more easily traceable that having an alternate fake account.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:35PM (#39535217)

    As a result, users that do not want to join the social network are forced to either join with reservations or miss out on the social component, such as viewing pictures.

    Why should anyone have to join a social network to view a friend's pictures? The only way this "problem" can exist is when the owners of the social network try to force artificial restrictions on the network.

    If I post anything on Facebook - text, pictures, whatever - I can flag it as public, or I can limit access to some arbitrary group. If I want to share photos with someone who's not on Facebook, I will just mark them "public" (in practice, I tend to post my photos elsewhere; but that's beside the point). I can't imagine Google+ doesn't allow this as well - so either their network is artificially restricted in an attempt to force people into some affiliation, or else they are being disingenuous in this patent defense.

    • Google plus does in fact allow photos/albums (maybe posts? I haven't checked) marked "public" to be viewed by anyone with the url.

      Here are the first 99 photos from my trip to Death Valley last month, for example: https://plus.google.com/photos/114127672767084904209/albums/5718366559408412705 [google.com]

      • Yup, as expected your link works even though I'm not signed into my Google account (and I'm not a participant in Google+, regardless).

        So they are indeed being intentionally disingenuous in their patent description - probably assuming the patent examiner won't know any better.

    • by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @02:30PM (#39535593) Homepage

      Duh, because people don't want to share with the public?

      This is a way to limit access to those photos while at the same time giving access to people with a G+ account: they send you a private URL with which you can authenticate yourself without registering.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        the pictures are public once you upload them.. google or whoever can choose to do this anytime...

        • No, they're not public. Having the possibility that they'll become public in the future is not the same.

          It's impossible to live life without trusting people, companies and things. Whether one should trust Google in this case is a different matter - I'm not sure I would. Not that I have to make that decision, since other things (like the real name policy) prevent me from joining anyway.

          • by epyT-R (613989)

            no it's not, it's also not the point I was making. Most service agreements mandate that anything you upload becomes the property of the service provider. After that, the sky's the limit. There's a difference between trusting a few associates as you occupy a public space, and trusting a distributed database heuristic-analysis operation run by people who don't care about you, only their bottom line and/or political ambitions.

            • Most service agreements mandate that anything you upload becomes the property of the service provider.

              Not exactly; the copyright is still yours, they just require a extremely loose (and non-revocable) license.

              There's a difference between trusting a few associates as you occupy a public space, and trusting a distributed database heuristic-analysis operation run by people who don't care about you, only their bottom line and/or political ambitions.

              My bank is also run by people who don't care about me, yet I still trust them with my money, which if I were to lose would affect me much more than having my pictures used publicly.

              It's a question of deciding how likely is that. And frankly, I don't think it's very likely. They'd have more to lose than to win.

              • by epyT-R (613989)

                your bank doesn't make it's principal income from selling your personal info to the highest bidder, though they do some of this indirectly through the big three credit monitors..(afaik), and even they are backed by FDIC and regulation (assuming the feds are trustworthy, another whole debate). 'social' media is nothing like this.. their bread and butter is finding out as much as possible and selling that to others...and if any 'lawful' (lobbied-for access) subpoena comes along, they'll happily oblige... it'

                • Google doesn't sell personal data, that wouldn't make any sense: some business would just buy it and resell it for less. Google sells advertising, where they can sell and resell and resell. It's in their interest to not give too much information away.

                  Subpoenas are certainly possible, although unlikely for any particular user.

                  as far as this article is concerned, creating ghost profiles is a war of attrition on those who consciously opt out. it's not just that the info is out there somewhere, it's that it's concentrated in one place, in an easily accessible location for all to see, without their consent. The only way to fight it is to claim the profile (thus validating it 'they got you') and lock it down as much as they let you

                  I think you've misunderstood the point of these ghost profiles. The objective is to let you participate without giving your personal data. It's not easily accessible for all to see. Fro

    • by swillden (191260)

      If I want to share photos with someone who's not on Facebook, I will just mark them "public"

      What if you don't want to make them public? E-mail is probably a good choice, but it's a little less convenient to share the same stuff via two mechanisms.

  • by PPH (736903)

    Are they patenting this to stop it?

    I read 'ghost profile' as a dummy login which cannot be traced to me on other services or in meatspace. As far as I can tell, that's been going on in numerous services for many years (so good luck with the prior art part of this). In some cases, setting up such dummy accounts requires establishing your alternate self (via the likes of throw away e-mail accounts) in a few other places. Given Google's preference for the use of real names, patenting this activity could be t

    • The difference is that these profiles are not created by the user, but when someone else shares stuff with them.

  • A patent to create a file? With Dummy Data in it? I think the industry may have one or two examples floating around Google [slashdot.org] for that.
  • Hehe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Barny (103770) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Saturday March 31, 2012 @02:03PM (#39535399) Homepage Journal

    /me checks the date

    Sunday April 01, @02:58AM

    Yeah, it's already begun.

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @02:06PM (#39535417)

    A problem arises when users of social networks are friends with people that are opposed to social networks. The second group misses out on an important social component. [emphasis mine]

    Asserting that there is "a problem" or that non-members are "missing out" assumes your reference frame is the preferred -- and that's the real problem. In addition, while I'll agree that Facebook/Google+ may offer some sort of "social component", their importance is questionable. More to the point, I'd argue that they distract from real, live, more personal social interactions. Lastly, I find patent quote to be a little condescending to us "non-believers".

  • Ghost users will solve the problem of unregistered users not being able to participate ... because G+ doesn't let unregistered users participate? Seems to me they had the same problem with Google Docs -- unregistered users couldn't see or edit a spreadsheet -- but they resolved that by making 'sharing' options.

    This codifies the fact that Google (and Facebook, et al.) create a "profile" for every visit to their websites/services, and they don't know the names to go with those profiles.

  • Because Social Networking is the pinnicle of human existence. There's really no other reason to exsist, and non-believers must be dragged, kicking and screaming if needed, into the fold.
  • by Tom (822)

    users of social networks are friends with people that are opposed to social networks. The second group misses out on an important social component.

    Time to delete my G+ profile. Seriously, how fucked up is this kind of thinking?

    People who are ignorant of social networks may be "missing out" on something.
    People who are opposed to social networks are not "missing out", they have opted out. They know what they are missing and have decided that they are better off without.

    This is such a fucked-up mindset they are displaying, I don't even know any appropriate english words. It's just hostile to treat people who have intentionally decided against your produc

  • by utkonos (2104836) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @02:48PM (#39535707)
    I've often wondered how accurate of a fingerprint your selection of friends on a social network is. The reason I find this important is that I, like many people wish that I hadn't used my real name on any of my social networks. If I had been smart, I would have made an alias to at least make it slightly more difficult for the social network to pinpoint my real world identity.

    But the damage is basically done, and this leads me to the reason I asked the question: knowing I can create a fake account through Tor, how many of my friends can I re-friend before the social network invisibly links my old and new account behind the scenes?
  • The Mormons declare prior art. They've been baptizing ghosts [usatoday.com] into their "social network" for years.

  • "The second group misses out on an important social component."

    Fuck you, asshole. You don't get to define what I consider an "important" social component.
  • Joking and April's fools aside, this is something that FriendFeed has had since something like day 1, centuries before being bought up by Facebook: you could define "virtual friends" which, given the feed-based nature of FF as a social network, was just a collection of feeds.
  • by russotto (537200) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @04:15PM (#39536225) Journal

    As is par for slashdot, the summary contradicts the article -- "the invention is designed to convert anti-social-networking types to the joys of Google+" says the summary, whereas the patent abstract says "The ghost profile allows a user to use certain features in a social network without converting to a social network profile. "

    In other words, the patent is for just the opposite of what the summary says it is for.

    (Disclaimer: I work for Google. It's a big company; I had nothing to do with this patent.)

  • This was actually a feature of Facebook for a while, at least when I joined up. The number one driver for me to create an account on facebook was that I already had a sort of ghost account created by the people I knew. Even though I didn't have an account, people could still tag me in photos (prompting an email), view collections of photos that I'd been tagged in, and a few other basic functions. I joined solely so that I could change my privacy settings.

  • Thus no patent.

  • It allowed my sister to create a ghost profile for me. I saw it on my wife's facebook session.

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