52 Fridays is an ongoing series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations stories, ideas, tips, and resources shared here each Friday.
Some say it’s a way for marketers to get their product or service in front of a consumer through highly targeted online ads; others call this move by Google a massive privacy invasion. There are ways to minimize the data collected, but thus far Google’s not given users a way to opt out entirely. Is this legal? That’s still being debated.
If you have a Google account, use Gmail/YouTube/Google+/Picasa/Google Maps, search the Internet using Google, or have an Android phone that requires a Google account and login, here’s what you should know about the data being collected regarding you and your horsebiz.
But has Google gone too far? One example they used in the January 24th blog post announcing the privacy changes is that by having access to your daily plans through Google Calendar, Maps, etc., and having an understanding of traffic that day, Google can give you an alert that you’ll be late for a meeting. Some might like that option, others might think it’s Big Brother-ish. But there’s more.
Content on one Google product will now affect ads you might see on any Google product. Google says they ‘may’ collect data such as your location (from your GPS data) and phone call information (from your smartphone), including who you called and how long you talked.
They’ll be consolidating various ‘user identities’ so you’ll basically become one entity on Google, even if you’d prefer to have multiple ‘personalities’ such as a business one and a personal one. If your Google Profile is publicly visible, they ‘may’ show it to others, provided those people have your email address or other personally identifying information. Say what?!
The February 29th date to delete your history and not have it associated across Google’s multiple products has passed, but there are still things you can do if all this data collection and sharing makes you nervous. Some options as of right now (caution: subject to change!):
- Continue to use Google products and sites, but adjust your settings to your own comfort level: You can do things like opt-out of having a ‘cookie’ with their Ads Preferences Manager, employ your Google Dashboard to adjust personal settings, or manage your Web History and Google Profile.
- Delete your Google account(s) (including Gmail): If you choose this option, you can migrate your existing data elsewhere under their ‘data liberation’ policy.
- Switch to other services, or use Google selectively: Many of us have come to rely heavily on Google, but there are other options. You can search Yahoo! or Bing, and sign up for free email elsewhere (here’s an About.com article that lists the Top 18 Free Email Services, from Heinz Tschabitscher). You can even log out of your Google account before you search if you’re doing something you’d rather not tell Mom about; data is still collected via your computer’s address but it’s less likely to influence ads and other results.
This is a complicated situation, and it’s a good idea to research the issues at hand and decide what you’re willing to accept and allow. If you want to learn more, here are some good resources:
- Frequently asked questions about Google’s privacy settings, from The Daily Nightly on MSNBC.com (note – very good, clear explanation and good information here!)
While many are speaking out against what they view as invasive tactics and a loss of privacy, others are embracing the data collection. In The Style Blog from The Washington Post’s Lifestyle section, Maura Judkis writes about how some bloggers and artists are viewing their search history as an ‘inadvertent search diary’ that’s a part of their life experience, and even sharing it publicly with others.
What do you think? Is Google’s change something that will make your life easier, your horsebiz marketing more effective, or do you think it’s just plain creepy?
Images courtesy assorted Google sites and products.
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