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Go On, Be Evil

January 3rd, 2013 - 2:54 pm

The socialification of search continues:

Google Inc. is challenging Facebook Inc. by using a controversial tactic: requiring people to use the Google+ social network.

The result is that people who create an account to use Gmail, YouTube and other Google services—including the Zagat restaurant-review website—are also being set up with public Google+ pages that can be viewed by anyone online. Google+ is a Facebook rival and one of the company’s most important recent initiatives as it tries to snag more online advertising dollars.

I noticed this on YouTube a few weeks ago when I was trying to reply to comment left by a vile prog on one of my PJTV segments. I’d deleted my Google+ account not long after I’d started my Google+ account, because it was a difficult to use, boring to maintain, and filled with annoying email alerts I could never seem to turn all the way off. But when I tried to comment on YouTube, Google popped up a challenge window informing me my comment wouldn’t be published until I set up a new Google+ account.

No. Way. José.

So I set up a dummy Gmail account for dialing into the weekly Trifecta conference call using Google Voice. That mailbox isn’t tied to anything, I haven’t used it for shopping or search or social or anything — and yet it’s filled with Google+ alerts.

But wait — it gets creepier still:

Some users of Google’s services are startled to learn how far the integration can reach. Sam Ford, a 26-year-old Navy petty officer, says he signed up for Google+ on his smartphone because it would let him automatically upload new photos to a Google+ folder—one that he kept private. Later, he says, he was surprised to see that his Google+ profile page—which includes his name—was tied to a software review that he wrote recently on the Google Play online store.

Google is “trying too hard to compete with Facebook, and if people aren’t going to share willingly, they’ll make them share unwillingly,” he says.

I started using Bing not long after Google turned Image Search into an unusable mess. But then Microsoft turned Bing’s image search into an even unusabler (shut up — it is so a word) mess. DuckDuckGo is great in the non-creepy way Google once was, but it’s limited pretty much to text searches. So when I need to grab stills or video, I have to slink back into Google’s or Bing’s haunted castles.

It makes me feel old to realize I’ve been on the internet so long, I can remember when the creepiest things on here were the users.

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