Google+ launched in 2011: a socialnetworking site allowing users to categorise their friends into online ‘Circles’, choosing who they share what information with (Google, 2011a).
Privacy is a natural concern for users sharing information on social networks. Users must agree to the Google terms of service to use Google+. So is Google+ asafe haven for those with privacy concerns?
GOOGLE+: WHO OWNS WHAT I POST? You own the information you upload to Google+. BUT, Google have a non-exclusive license you use that information (in whatever form they like, be itmodiﬁed or original) on any of their ‘Services’ - such as Gmail, YouTube, Picasa etc (Google, 2011b).
SO HOW CAN THEY USE MY INFORMATION? Google speciﬁes that their use is to ‘display, distribute and promote the Services’. Google+ needs to be able to ‘display’ your information on your proﬁle, and distribute it to your‘Circles’. They can use this information on all their Services (eg. linking your Google+ & Picasa accounts) (Google, 2011b).
THEY ALSO SAID ‘PROMOTE’ THOUGH... Yes. Technically, Google could take a photofrom your proﬁle and use it on a billboard topromote Google+, or even promote another Google site that you don’t even use, such as Gmail (Google, 2011b).
CAN ADVERTISERS SEE MY INFORMATION?Advertisements within the Google+ interface are targeted based on the information you provide. This is algorithm based; Google+ does not share your personal information directly with advertisers (Google, 2011b).
SO WITH ALL THIS SHARING OF MY INFORMATION, CAN I USE A PSEUDONYM?Google has recently announced plans to change this (ZDNET, 2011), but currently, you must use your real name. If you use a name that doesn’t sound‘legitimate’ by Google’s (undisclosed) standards, your account will be terminated (Google, 2011c).
BUT WHAT IF I LEAVE GOOGLE+? AND HOW DO I LEAVE, ANYWAY?You can terminate your agreement with Google at any time, by informing them in writing and closing your account. BUT, their license to use your information is in perpetuity, so even after you end the agreement, your information can still be used (Google, 2011b).
CAN GOOGLE TERMINATE THE AGREEMENT WITH ME? Yes, at any time. They will do this if you have breached any term of the agreement (eg. by posting something illegal or by using apseudonym), or if for whatever reason, they decide to cease offering their services (Google, 2011b).
CAN GOOGLE+ FILTER MY CONTENT? Yes, for any reason at all. If Google was asked, say, by aGovernment, to ﬁlter content by its users, this would be at Google’s discretion. In the ﬁrst half of 2011, Googlecomplied with 40% of the Australian government’s requests to remove content (Google, 2011d).
COULD GOOGLE GIVE MY INFORMATION TO THE GOVERNMENT?Yes. Google is transparent with the amount of information requested of them by various Governments, though notwith the details of the information itself. In the ﬁrst half of2011 in Australia, the percentage of data requests fully or partially complied with was 73% (Google, 2011e).
SO SHOULD I SIGN UP? Google+ is relatively transparent about how it uses your data, andmost of its terms and conditions are reasonable when considering it provides a free service. However as your personal information canbe used in perpetuity, it is up to each user to consider the terms and conditions, and, once accepted, the information they upload.
REFERENCES:Arthur, C. (2011, June 30). Google+ blocked in China. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/jun/30/google-plus-blocked-chinaGoldstein, J. (2011). How I Evaluate Terms of Service for Social Media Web Sites - Google+. Retrieved fromhttp://www.jmg-galleries.com/blog/2011/07/08/how-i-evaluate-terms-of-service-for-social-media-web-sites-google/Google. (2011a). Google+: Learn More. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/intl/en/+/learnmore/Google. (2011b). Terms of Service. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/accounts/TOSGoogle. (2011c). Your name and Google+ proﬁles. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/support/plus/bin/answer.py?answer=1228271Google. (2011d). Google Transparency Report: Content Removal Requests. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/governmentrequests/removals/Google. (2011e). Google Transparency Report: User Data Requests. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/governmentrequests/userdata/Google user licenses: clariﬁcation would be nice, but they’re not panic-worthy. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.bagandbaggage.com/blog/2011/7/10/google-user-licenses-clariﬁcation-would-be-nice-but-theyre.htmlWeinberger, M. (2011, October 20). Google+ pseudonym support is coming soon. ZDNET. Retrieved fromhttp://www.zdnet.com/blog/google/google-pseudonym-support-is-coming-soon/3409