Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Google scares me

What is it about this new Google+ that has even my husband onboard (he and around 18 million early users)? V, one of the most cautious, internet-security buffs I know, was the one who invited me to Google+. Why should I join? I asked the man who has refused Facebook and generally snubs social media.

He argued that Google+ has better privacy settings and controls. And there's the supposedly the big appeal of Google+ – their fancy-looking ‘circles’ which allow you to categorize your contacts into circles like friends, family, work colleagues, acquaintances. You can then decide who, in these categories, can see what you’ve posted.

(Google+ says, ‘not to worry, your contacts won’t know what circle you’ve placed them in.’ Just make sure to not post something too gossip-worthy for one circle since a ‘friend’ might mention it to a mere ‘acquaintance’ – thereby revealing to said acquaintance what esteem they have in your eyes.)

So my curiosity temporarily got the best of me and I opened a Google+ account. I closed it within a few hours – after some momentary panic when I read that if you try to close Goggle+ you will lose all other Google services like Gmail and this blogging service. Perhaps my house would cease to exist on the map.

Not surprisingly, it’s also rather hard to find good answers when you do a Google search for ‘close Google+ account’. And the Google+ help centre isn’t much better.

Thankfully Bing found me helpful video on youtube that showed me how easy it actually is to remove the + but keep the Google. But my relationship with Google has been soured by this experience.

I already depend on Google for my email, my calendar, maps, blogging... their creepy little virtual fingers seem to be reaching further and further into my life.

I often have the desire to completely unplug from the Internet – this desire has been bolstered by these months of daily blogging. I would rather invest in face-time than screen-time.

The last thing we need is another timewaster that draws personal information out of us and tricks us into thinking we are more social after spending more time alone with our computers.

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