Posts tagged Google+
“Hang in there, creepy guys! She’ll love you some day!”
[Insert ad for Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear here.]
So it’s real: Google+ is open for business–not just with people (using their real names), but with brands as well.
After months of delays, and pulling down the brand pages that first went up, Google has announced that companies, nonprofits, stores, and other organizations can establish pages on the new social network. Now you can +1 all of your favorite brands–once they’ve decided to have a Google+ page, of course. And with Circles, you can organize them in whatever manner you can imagine–just like with the individuals you (presumably) already follow in one form or another.
So now that brands from Angry Birds and the Dallas Cowboys to Save the Children UK and H&M are on Google+, you can find yet another place to interact with your favorite organizations. And those brands have another chance to connect with their customers–and to deal with feedback, good and bad.
What does privacy mean in an age where so many of us share everything in public? If you don’t want everyone to know everything, here are a few things to take a look at:
Geolocating and photos
First, check your camera. As this Webroot post explains, newer cameras include geolocation info in the metadata. If you don’t want people to know where you are, turn that feature off. And if you’ve got a smartphone, for these purposes I’m including that in the category “camera.”
You’ve probably seen your Facebook friends (including me, if you’re friends with me) post status updates about changes to privacy settings. Go look at them again and make sure that what you share is going only to those people you want to see it. In the upper right-hand corner, you’ll see “Account” with a drop-down arrow. Select “Account Settings” and then go through each of the categories on the left to make sure that you’ve properly limited access to your account. Remember to remove apps you’re not using. Then go back to that drop-down menu and select “Privacy Settings.” If it seems like you’re repeating yourself, that’s okay–it’s good to be thorough. Do this on other sites you use, too. The organization may be a little different, but the overall issue is constant.
One of the circles on Google+ is “Public.” I think it might behoove Google to come up with another label for that circle, because any time you choose “Public” rather than “Friends” or “Acquaintances” or “People who also have lhasa apsos” (or whatever circle names you’ve invented), that post is going to wind up searchable via Google’s main page. What happens in Google+ may not stay in Google+, so don’t select “Public” unless you’re okay with the whole world seeing it. Because they just might.
Geolocation games and services like foursquare and SCVNGR can be a lot of fun, but pay attention to who knows where you are. It’s not that hard to track someone’s movements throughout the day. When that’s not just a pattern but real-time, it’s worth thinking about how much of that you really want to share, and with whom. Remember that kid in junior high who you thought was your friend, but turned out to be the jerk who stole things out of your backpack? Chances are good that many of us still have one of those friends–we just haven’t realized it yet. And do you know everyone they know? It’s not paranoid to keep in mind that you don’t actually know everything about everyone–so why does everyone need to know everything about you?
Start with the idea that it’s possible for people to find you and your words and photos. And then consider how much you want to hand to them directly. It’s a personal choice–just make an informed one.
Photo by Quasimondo, via Flickr.
Henry Luce: Now, I want them all to meet my people who will write their true stories, Naturally these stories will appear in Life magazine under their own bylines: For example, “by Betty Grissom”, or “by Virgil I. Grisson”, or…
Gus Grissom: Gus!
Henry Luce: What was that?
Gus Grissom: Gus. Nobody calls me by… that other name.
Henry Luce: Gus? An astronaut named “Gus”? What’s your middle name?
Gus Grissom: Ivan.
Henry Luce: Ivan… ahem… well. Maybe, Gus isn’t so bad, might be something there… All right, all right. You can be Gus.
–”The Right Stuff”
Although maybe not on Google+. NPR reporter Andy Carvin sums up Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s stance thusly: “He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products that leverage that information.”
So who benefits from this “identity service”? Schmidt would say that you do, because if people have to post under their real names, then they won’t say nasty things about you on the Internet. But as venture capitalist Fred Wilson points out, there are some hefty benefits for Google as well–namely, that they are now better able to target ads.
To any of you who have Gmail, this isn’t new. But what are those “future products that leverage that information” that Schmidt mentioned? We don’t know yet. But apparently they require Google to know exactly who you are. And based on this Search Engine Watch post, that means you have to:
- Use your full first and last name in a single language.
- Put nicknames or pseudonyms in the Other Names field.
- Avoid unusual characters in your name.
- Your profile and name must represent one individual.
- Don’t use the name of another individual.
Not only is there no room here for pseudonyms, there’s no room for common nicknames. Well, my Google account doesn’t use my full first name, so I guess I’m in violation of their policy. But how would they determine that without, say, Social Security records? (Aside from the fact that I’m stating it openly, that is.) I use “Kathy Lisiewicz” because that’s what people call me. It doesn’t make sense to use my full name on Google+ when I’m not using it anywhere else online.
So, how private do those Circles feel now?
So, do we like this kid? I’ve gotten an invitation, and am trying it out. So far I’m not sure if I’m posting anything, but I do like the ability to choose my audience–it’s nice to know that I can separate my contacts and target materials to specific “circles.”
Right now I’m finding it a little lonely; I don’t know that many people who have gotten invitations, so I’m not finding a lot of interaction yet. Then again, I had the same “problem” when I first joined Facebook in 2007–and that certainly has solved itself.
One of the things I think is really appealing is the fresh start. I like the history I have on Facebook, but I’m intrigued by the idea of getting to reconceive how I post, organize, and share photos, for example.
Even if Google+ isn’t ready for businesses, there seems to be a lot of potential here. I say we hang out with this kid and see how things shake out.