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Bennett Haselton: Google+ To Gmail Controversy Missing the Point

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Google 244

Bennett Haselton writes "Google created controversy by announcing that Google+ users will now be able to send email to Gmail users even without having those Gmail users' email addresses. I think this debate misses the point, because it's unlikely to create a deluge of unsolicited email to Gmail users, as long as Google can throttle outgoing messages from Google+ users and terminate abusive accounts. The real controversy should be over the fact that Google+ users can search a public database of the names of all Gmail users in the first place. And limiting the ability of Google+ users to write to those Gmail accounts, won't do anything to address that." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

To begin with, remember that on Facebook (which I no longer use, but which I keep up with) does allow you to search for other members' names and send them messages even if they have not yet accepted your friend request. Facebook users are generally not shy when it comes to complaining about problems with the site, but I've never heard Facebook users complaining about junk messages from strangers. (It's true that if you get a message from a user outside of your friends list, it gets routed to the "Other" folder of your Facebook inbox. But similarly, Google says that messages from strangers on Google+ will get routed to a Gmail user's "Social" tab of the inbox.)

So I expect the amount of actual unsolicited emails from Google+ users to Gmail users to be almost a complete non-issue, for the same reason that it's not an issue on Facebook. I assume the reason that Facebook users get so few junk messages, is that Facebook can limit the number of outgoing messages sent per day by any one account (although I don't know what that limit is), and can shut down accounts that are reported for abuse. Yes, a spammer could continually create new accounts to send more messages, but if you create too many Facebook accounts from the same IP address, and each account created from that IP address gets flagged for abuse, Facebook might start disallowing new accounts created from that IP. You could switch your IP address continually, but at a certain point, spammers must have decided that creating disposable Facebook accounts for spamming purposes wasn't worth the trouble, because the simple fact is that they don't do it. So Gmail users are not in danger of buried in spam from Google+ accounts. (By contrast, conventional email spam grew to unmanageable proportions because anybody with an email server could send out millions of messages per day, unless their provider cut them off.)

On the other hand, I think we should be more concerned about the fact that anyone who creates a Gmail address automatically has a Google+ account created for them. This doesn't just mean that any of Google's claims about the "number of Google+ users" are inflated, if they're including everyone who signs up for a Gmail account. (That's a valid complaint, but it's between Google and their shareholders, since the rest of us don't need to care how many users Google+ actually has.) More importantly, it means that all of those users become part of a public database that is searchable by name.

As a test, I went to Gmail.com and created a new user account, entering the first and last name "Zanzibar Higglesbrain" which I figured was probably unique. (Fan fiction authors: knock yourselves out.) Then I logged back in under my own Google+ account, went to the people search page, searched for "Zanzibar Higglesbrain", and found 1 match. (I didn't even need the exact name -- entering "Zanzibar Hi" into the people search box, listed Mr. Higglesbrain among the results.)

Now, when I created the Higglesbrain account, how much up-front notice was I given that I would be adding myself to a public database? I went through the normal signup process, viewed through the eyes of a novice -- after typing in Gmail.com, I was redirected to a page on accounts.google.com with the innocuous title "Create your Google Account", and entered my personal information. On the next page is the somewhat confusingly worded message (I've also posted a screen shot here):

How you'll appear

Choose how you appear across Google by creating a public Google+ profile.
Include a photo - you can update it at any time.
[Link:] Add a photo
[Button:] Next step

This message is misleadingly worded because the phrase "by creating a public Google+ profile" implies that's something you can do, optionally, if you want to. It doesn't really disclose the fact that the profile is being created for you as a side effect of signing up for Gmail. The wording might be interpreted, rather, to mean that your profile will only be created if you upload a photo (which is not the case; your profile gets created regardless). And besides -- what if the user is a novice who went to Gmail.com because they saw all their friends using Gmail.com addresses, and have never even heard of "Google+"? If they haven't consented to their name being added to a publicly searchable database, it shouldn't be their responsibility to know what "Google+" is, so that they can object to their name being listed there.

After you click the "Next step" button, the final page in the account creation process says:

Welcome, [firstname]

Your new email address is [address]

Thanks for creating a Google Account. Use it to subscribe to channels on YouTube, video chat for free, save favorite places on Maps, and lots more.

Note what's conspicuously missing from this message: It doesn't mention Google+ at all, much less the fact that you have unwittingly "joined" it, where other users can find you.

I can think of a couple of scenarios where a user might object to their name being listed in a searchable user database, apart from just "on general principles". If you have a stalker in your past, and they find your name on Google+, it confirms for them that you're probably still alive, that you're probably active on the Internet, and that you're still going by the name that they knew you under. Or, if you have a very unique first name, anyone who knows it could search on Google+ to find your last name, even if you didn't want them to. Similarly, if you have a very unique last name, someone could use the search feature to find the names of your children and other relatives with the same last name, at least those of them that are using Gmail.

And this lack of user consent is a more serious problem on Gmail/Google+ than on Facebook, because most Facebook users create a profile with the general expectation that other Facebook users can find them. Some Facebook users had chosen not to make their accounts searchable -- and Facebook justifiably received a firestorm of criticism for removing that feature and forcing those users' profiles to become publicly searchable after all -- but the overwhelming majority of Facebook users had joined with the understanding that their profiles could be found by others. That's not a valid assumption about Gmail users -- if someone creates a Gmail.com email address, there's no reason to think that they believed they were joining a publicly searchable name database.

Google has tried to mollify people's concerns about emails from strangers on Google+, by specifying that anyone not already in your Google+ circles will only be able to send one message to your Gmail inbox, and will not be able to send more messages until you reply. But this misunderstands the privacy implications in, for example, the stalker scenario. If a stalker ex "Bob" really did find your name on Google+, they might try to tease out a reply by creating a Google+ account under the name of a friend "Alice" you and your ex had in common, and sending you a generic "How have you been doing lately?" message. Since that message probably won't raise any alarm bells (the message isn't asking for anything like a current address or phone number), you might not realize that just by replying, you've already done the damage (the stalker now knows your email address, plus the fact that it's still an actively used account).

Similarly, although you can modify your Gmail settings to prevent strangers on Google+ from messaging you, the ability to change a setting to fix a problem only helps a user if the user realizes when the problem is happening. For example, if the problem resulting from this new feature switch were a deluge of spam from strangers on Google+, then more and more users would get frustrated and look for information about how to stop the flood of spam, and most of them would find out about this setting and switch it off. But for combatting the stalker problem, this setting is useless, because by definition if a stalker finds you on Google+ (and tricks you into replying to a message and revealing your email address), you wouldn't know about that problem until the damage has already been done, at which point it's too late to solve it by changing a setting.

The only way to avoid this risk to people's privacy, would be for Google to ask Gmail users at the time they create a Gmail account: "Do you also want to create a Google+ account, yes or no? This means you will have a publicly searchable profile, and people who know your name will be able to find you." Some people would like to be found, some people would rather not be, and this would allow them to sort themselves properly.

But instead, we have an untold number of zombie Google+ accounts created whenever someone signs up for Gmail, which serve no purpose except to make it possible to find people who never confirmed that they wanted to be found -- all most likely for the reason given by Chris Taylor at Mashable, so that "Larry Page gets to claim increased Google+ user numbers on the next quarterly earnings call."

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244 comments

Bennett Haselton? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940139)

Who is Bennett Haselton, and why do we care what he says?

Re:Bennett Haselton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940307)

I don't know, but this Zanzibar Higglesbrain sounds like a guy whose G+ feed I would like to follow!

Re:Bennett Haselton? (5, Funny)

tomhath (637240) | about 3 months ago | (#45940313)

If you want to know who he is, just look him up on Google+

Re:Bennett Haselton? (5, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 3 months ago | (#45940665)

If you want to know who he is, just look him up on Google+

Better yet, look him up on Google+ and send him an email. After all, he states that this linking of Google+ and Gmail won't cause an increase of unsolicited email.

Re:Bennett Haselton? (1)

berashith (222128) | about 3 months ago | (#45940971)

he was kind enough to sign up with an even more peculiar name if you want to find him . email Zanzibar Higglesbrain to send to his "private" unknown account.

Re:Bennett Haselton? (4, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 months ago | (#45940663)

Look at his past submissions if you want to know.

Myself, Im partial to the one where he asked whether we REALLY need the 4th and 5th amendments.

Abolish privacy? (2)

h00manist (800926) | about 3 months ago | (#45940775)

Sure, abolish privacy for everyone who holds a government position. They are working for the public anyway - aren't they.

Re:Bennett Haselton? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940777)

He's Slashdot's volunteer opinion columnist.

I have no idea why he bothers; it's not like they're paying him.

Re:Bennett Haselton? (0)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 3 months ago | (#45940945)

No one reads his/her blog so s/he uses Slashdot to post gripes instead of contacting people who can effect change.
In other words the geek world's passive aggressive post it note leaver.

Re:Bennett Haselton? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45941013)

He is the person who's cock the Slashdot editors have wrapped their lips around.

Re:Bennett Haselton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45941117)

Name could be Joe Schmo and what he wrote is informative, not too long at all, and well worth reading. Thanks.

Re:Bennett Haselton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45941155)

He runs peacefire.org . This is a site that people use to get access to proxy sites to get around their high school/work internet filter so they can look at porn. Correction: He nobly allows dissidents to access the internet to get around blocks by their oppressive governments.

Re:Bennett Haselton? (-1, Flamebait)

weilawei (897823) | about 3 months ago | (#45941259)

To Bennett: For fuck's sake, STOP POSTING BLOG ENTRIES ON THE FUCKING FRONT PAGE. USE YOUR JOURNAL. LINK TO IT.

Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

Yeah, fuck you too, but this guy never listens. What an arrogant douchecock. The ONLY person who seems to get away with this BS. How many blowjobs did that cost you, samzenpus?

Google plus (5, Insightful)

sTERNKERN (1290626) | about 3 months ago | (#45940141)

Just make it stop. I go to G-Mail to send mails, I go to Youtube to watch videos. If I wanted to socialize, I would have gone to Twitter/SnapChat/Facebook/MySpace (is there still such a thing?)/SecondLife... Google was famous for it's tools being simple, powerful and not forcing anything on the user. Good old days, eh?

Re:Google plus (5, Insightful)

TrentTheThief (118302) | about 3 months ago | (#45940203)

I agree with your views. Google has jumped the damned shark.

Re:Google plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940273)

Perhaps you'd like to try our g-shark service?

Re:Google plus (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940703)

Perhaps you'd like to try our g-shark service?

Do I have to have a G+ profile to use Gshark? Is Gshark in beta? Will it be killed before ever leaving beta? Tune in next week to find out!

Re:Google plus (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 3 months ago | (#45940681)

I agree with your views. Google has jumped the damned shark.

Or, maybe, Google is the shark, a lean, mean, killing machine, devouring everything in it's way.

Re:Google plus (0)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#45940301)

Yep, it's time for Google to go away. I've already stopped using google search because they pushed too far. Gmail is next on the chopping block if they don't cut it out.

Re:Google plus (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 months ago | (#45940685)

I've already stopped using google search because they pushed too far. Gmail is next on the chopping block if they don't cut it out.

If only it were that easy for all.

My ISP has outsourced its email service to Gmail, and when it did so it sent them a couple of YEARS of DELETED email -- or at least email I thought I had deleted. And then I got stuck in the circle of trying to delete it from Gmail, and their asinine insults about "why do you want to delete anything when you've got so much space to keep it all?"

The University has now outsourced the undergraduate email system to Gmail. I'm expecting the staff email follows very soon, if the Uni can get around the public records/management of personal information laws that are currently keeping them from it.

Re:Google plus (1)

Albanach (527650) | about 3 months ago | (#45941007)

And then I got stuck in the circle of trying to delete it from Gmail, and their asinine insults about "why do you want to delete anything when you've got so much space to keep it all?"

Are you making this up? It's easy to delete large numbers of messages in gmail.

You can used the advanced search drop-down in the address bar to find the messages you want to delete, assuming they're not already labeled in gmail.

Select the checkbox at the very top, to the left of the delete trashcan icon. Google pops up a message saying it has selected 20 messages (that number might be higher or lower depending on your settings). Now click the link "Select all conversations that match this search" and click delete.

You'll get one warning that you're about to delete everything selected. Click OK and it's all gone.

I

Re:Google plus (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 3 months ago | (#45941065)

he was probably talking about when Gmail was new, around 2003-2004ish. Enough people griped about not being able to delete email that Google obliged some years later.

And as far as I know, even today Google doesn't actually delete anything, it just keeps the "deleted" email out of your view.

Re:Google plus (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 months ago | (#45941181)

Are you making this up? It's easy to delete large numbers of messages in gmail.

And then they move to another folder. And when you delete them from there, they move back. All Mail to Trash to All Mail to Trash to All Mail to Trash ... At least those are the two folders I remember it being.

You can used the advanced search drop-down in the address bar

I don't recall my email client having a 'drop-down in the address bar'. You do realize that not all access to Gmail is through your favorite web browser, yes?

alternatives? (2)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 3 months ago | (#45940737)

For me, Google blew it when they forcefully merged my gmail and youtube accounts. I've cut back on gmail as much as I can conveniently. But I still use it.

It's hard to leave when you don't have a place to go. I used to have a nice tree of email addresses, and used them to keep email sorted between business and personal, and such like. Then most of the free email providers ended their services, and now I'm down to gmail. yahoo, and hotmail. Oh, and bigfoot still sort of works. If you call frequent delays of more than 8 hours working. (Made it difficult to reset a password on a site that sent out password reset tokens that expired in 6 hours.) Anyway, bigfoot isn't a full blown email service, it's only a redirector.

I could run my own private little email server, but have been reluctant to do so. Apart from the sysadmin work, I'd have to deal with spam somehow. And as I'm using a free Dyndns name, there's no assurance my email address would be stable. (Paying doesn't do much more to assure permanence. Dyndns could always go out of business, or be bought and merged.) I used to have a "homeip.net" name, until Dyndns changed policies and killed half their free names. Now it's "dyndns.info". Guess I can live with that. Just don't force me into godaddy.

At least there is now duckduckgo for search engines. I don't use Google's search much anymore. But what alternatives are there for email these days? Apart from yahoo and hotmail, that is?

Re:alternatives? (2)

Tx (96709) | about 3 months ago | (#45941075)

Don't be a cheapskate, pay for FastMail [fastmail.fm] or other decent pay-for email provider. Sign up for a personal domain, most services throw in email accounts for free with a domain, or forward to your FastMail account. Then you are completely independent of the vagaries of the free providers, and you can keep your email addresses regardless of whatever provider or ISP you use, and it will cost very little (~$30/year depending on your choice of domain).

If you insist on free, well, you get what you pay for.

If you want quality, pay for it (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 3 months ago | (#45941113)

Then most of the free email providers ended their services, and now I'm down to gmail. yahoo, and hotmail.

I pay a few GBP a year for a hosted Linux shell account from a local IT firm. I can run whatever web sites I want from it, have it collect and/or forward e-mails and run any related systems I want, etc. It's not free, and neither are the handful of domains I own.

Because I own the domains, I'm paying for the hosting, and everything is set up with real, standardised tools, I can shift anything around any time I want. I can't be held hostage by any business having my data locked up in their proprietary system, or by any one technology that doesn't export things to someone else's alternative platform. This mostly doesn't matter, because I also get actual customer service from the IT guys in return for paying them actual money.

Personally, I download the mail to my main PC, where I run an actual e-mail program instead of relying on webmail. However, I could set up a local mail store on my home network or install any web front end I wanted on the hosted account if some other set-up became more useful.

None of this is rocket science, and there are plenty of hosting companies that will offer a similar basic plan for a modest fee (a small fraction of what I pay every year in, say, phone bills). I also pay a bit more than average to use a good ISP with solid technical specs, clueful people at the other end of the phone on the rare occasions anything does go wrong, things like a static IP address as standard, etc.

Basically, you just have to look beyond free-as-in-you're-the-product on-line services, absurdly cheap junk hosting, and mass market ISPs, and much of the frustration of the modern Internet goes away. It's just a shame that most people don't realise that, so the big name companies continue to dominate and there is a limited market for smaller-but-better services.

Re:Google plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940771)

I like how now when you go to Gmail, you don't go directly into the login screen anymore, you're first fed a scrolling montage of Gmail ads (as if I need to be told what to use Gmail for) and you have to click the "sign in" link. And yes, I know how to set up Thunderbird for SMTP, but I choose not to for personal reasons.

Once you click that link, and uncheck the "stay signed in" box, and mistype either your username or password, your username is remembered but the "stay signed in" box is mysteriously checked. So you can remember my username, but not that I unchecked a box? The same box that Google claims is "for security" but really means "don't fucking track me."

This is the same kind of shit that is turning users off to Firefox, where you have too many developers inventing unneeded and often annoying features just for the sake of justifying their paycheck. What initially attracted users to Google was its clean, uncluttered interface.

Re:Google plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940331)

Yeah, I'm with you on this one. All of google's services are being pretty pushy lately. If I knew another platform to go to I would try something else out at this point.

Re:Google plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940615)

What is a `platform' in this context, and why do you need one?

Re:Google plus (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940335)

Not only is G+ not forced upon you, at all, but it's one of the easiest social services to delete your account from, removing ALL your history (every post, every reply, every picture, every single trace of your existence). And to top it off, it allows you, before you delete your account, to download a .zip file of all your posts, if you want.

Re:Google plus (2, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | about 3 months ago | (#45940373)

"Not only is G+ not forced upon you, at all, but it's one of the easiest social services to delete your account from, removing ALL your history (every post, every reply, every picture, every single trace of your existence). And to top it off, it allows you, before you delete your account, to download a .zip file of all your posts, if you want."

Says the AC with no link.

IT certainly has been forced on me and if there is an option to delete it short of deleting my accounts on gmail and youtube (which seem to have been merged without my consent) in the process it's far from obvious.

Re:Google plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940479)

When you remove your Google+ account, your Gmail stays OK. As for the YouTube acc, as long as you're ok with no comments, no thumbs up/down and no spam reporting (yes, seriously), you can deattach your account from YT one (at least for the time being).

I'm honestly thinking of creating a cronjob just for deleting my fscking G+ account every time I misclick something and create it again.

Re:Google plus (3, Informative)

atriusofbricia (686672) | about 3 months ago | (#45940835)

"Not only is G+ not forced upon you, at all, but it's one of the easiest social services to delete your account from, removing ALL your history (every post, every reply, every picture, every single trace of your existence). And to top it off, it allows you, before you delete your account, to download a .zip file of all your posts, if you want."

Says the AC with no link.

IT certainly has been forced on me and if there is an option to delete it short of deleting my accounts on gmail and youtube (which seem to have been merged without my consent) in the process it's far from obvious.

Odd, I was able to search and find a delete your google plus link easily. I do agree that it is slightly annoying they don't have a check box to not create the G+ profile but it isn't like they automatically fill it out and push everything into it. You have to manually go to G+ and finish the process if you want it, delete it if you don't.

The poster's stalker premise is also pretty silly. If I'm being stalked am I really going to be dumb enough to create accounts with my actual name on them? The whole thing still strikes me as a tempest in a teapot.

Re:Google plus (3, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | about 3 months ago | (#45941163)

"I do agree that it is slightly annoying they don't have a check box to not create the G+ profile but it isn't like they automatically fill it out and push everything into it. "

That does not appear to be correct. Since google+ came out a pic that I used for a brief time on google talk (and I made sure it was set to only ever display to people on my chat list) is now showing up on youtube.

"You have to manually go to G+ and finish the process if you want it, delete it if you don't."

And to do that you have to retroactively agree to what they did. Not reasonable, not acceptable.

I have a better idea. Google should go back and delete all the accounts that have not consented, which they should never have created in the first place, and issue a public apology.

"The poster's stalker premise is also pretty silly. If I'm being stalked am I really going to be dumb enough to create accounts with my actual name on them?"

The TOS demands your real name, which would be reasonable if they were not misusing it. Besides which, what usually happens is the stalker comes first, and only afterwards do people learn to be more careful what information they let out.

Re:Google plus (5, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 months ago | (#45940425)

haha that's like saying that you're not forced to give the government your photo.

sure you're not. unless you want to drive.

anyways, all this shit is pretty much because nobody wanted to use google+ - but some jackasses had their bonuses tied to the user numbers, so those jackasses then made it so that if you want to use youtube, you'll be a google+ user - and now every new gmail user is a google+ user.

they're just playing a stupid numbers game. this wouldn't even be a problem if they had not along the way fucked up youtube comments(and moderation of them) etc while doing it.

Re:Google plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940575)

Driving is not a right; it's a privilege. It can be revoked at any time for any reason ... especially, but not limited to, abuse of driving PRIVILEGES.

Re:Google plus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940863)

Driving is not a right; it's a privilege. It can be revoked at any time for any reason ... especially, but not limited to, abuse of driving PRIVILEGES.

Sucks that the police did not give you a job, but we don't need to read your sad little
admonitions here, you pedantic cocksucker.

Re:Google plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940963)

No matter what some govt or state tries to claim, driving - using roads that you in-part own - is a right. You may lose that right if you misuse it, but a right it is. No level of govt anywhere can be allowed to claim that taxpayers using their own property is a privilege they are allowing you to have,

Re:Google plus (1)

berashith (222128) | about 3 months ago | (#45941003)

and just like it isnt very easy for many people to have a job without driving, it is also difficult to do many things without the internet. you should be able to limit your exposure if you would like to, without playing a constant shell game.

Re:Google plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940721)

> but some jackasses had their bonuses tied to the user numbers,

Those jackasses are Vic Gundotra and (to a lesser extent) Brad Horowitz.

I used to work at Google and quit a few months ago over this (among a few other reasons)

Re:Google plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45941099)

Funny no one wanted to use Google+. Guess you really have not looked on Google+. It is full of Photographers and Tech people. It the main reason I stopped using facebook.

Re: Google plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45941227)

Yeah the fact it's chock full of wanker chest-beating "tech" bloggers is the reason why normal people avoid it like the plague. Hey if it works for you then whoopee doo.

Re:Google plus (2)

Andrewkov (140579) | about 3 months ago | (#45940499)

If I wanted to socialize, I would have gone to Twitter/SnapChat/Facebook/MySpace

There's the rub (from google's perspective)

Re:Google plus (1)

houghi (78078) | about 3 months ago | (#45940715)

I have dropped my Gmail account and have gone to http://gmx.com/ [gmx.com]
For video upload, I will be using Vimeo instead of Youtube.

And the sole reason is the push they want to give to Google+ and the sneakiness they use to let you click to be connected to Google+

Watching video's, I still do. I now use Unique Youtube Skin [userscripts.org] to have a much better layout and not have the mobies play automagically,. so I can open several tabs and watch them one after the other.

Re:Google plus (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 3 months ago | (#45940733)

I am just wondering how this guy was confused about how putting something on the internet was not 100% private.

I think he confused himself so that he would have something to write about. As far as I can tell there is no story here.

Attention! If put a name on the internet people can find it!

tl;dr Phonebook? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940223)

Phonebooks weren't a huge problem. Will this really be a huge problem?

Do you wish to have an "unlisted number"? Don't use Gmail!

Frankly, unless they make an exception for commercial Gmail users, I see this as a good thing for other email providers and self-hosting.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#45940337)

Maybe it's because things were changed after they signed up for an account? Without their permission? In order to cross promote a product no one wants?

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (5, Funny)

mythosaz (572040) | about 3 months ago | (#45940363)

Demand your money back.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#45940375)

How about I demand my personal information back? Oh wait, you can't do that, they've sold it to everyone already.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 3 months ago | (#45940573)

It's not *your* information, it's information *about you.* See the difference?

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (3, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#45940619)

That sure is the justification I'd use if I were terrible, and actively trying to squeeze as much money as possible out of spying on people.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 3 months ago | (#45941265)

Additionally, the meta data is abstracted away so that it is aggregated and categorized so that Google offers Contact 150,000 "slashdot user" for $4.95 (or whatever).

Unfortunately, you're uniqueness is identifiable given enough identifying points. I don't know how many people with a nom de plume themselves "Archangel" are out there, but I'm sure I'm pretty select group of people from that alone. Given that info and perhaps another three or four, you can get even more selective list and my name would be listed. I am not concerned about people identifying me, we are identifyable.

What I am concerned about is my actual email being leaked, though I am not sure who would find my email worth reading ;)

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (3, Interesting)

mythosaz (572040) | about 3 months ago | (#45940617)

You've got hundreds of posts here bitching about Google. I'm going to guess you knew their privacy policies sometime before they started putting messages from people on G+ in your (low priority) inbox.

How can a guy that links his website every time he posts, and has contact button [ikanreed.net] on that website, complain that he might get an unsolicited email? What sort of lunacy is that?

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#45940673)

Actually, you'll find that form doesn't work. Good luck finding the actual functioning email address on that domain too.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#45940689)

And no, I don't care the CMS form doesn't work, because that section of the site is only for some friends.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940623)

Google likely isn't in the business of selling information. Retaining that information is what gives them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 months ago | (#45940693)

Likewise, youve already used their services, and you cant give that back either.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#45940801)

Which is why we'd like the ability to persist the arrangement we originally agreed to, and not need to go to measures like building a doomsday device, burying it deep beneath google's headquarters and issuing anonymous ultimatums.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 3 months ago | (#45940929)

Which is why we'd like the ability to persist the arrangement we originally agreed to

The original agreement allowed them to make these changes without consulting you.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940983)

How about I demand my personal information back? Oh wait, you can't do that, they've sold it to everyone already.

Yes, a rather fruitful endeavor on their part, in which they fully notified you via the EULA...

Not like you didn't have the opportunity to see this coming. You just were too lazy to read the fine print.

This Is Google! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940463)

Maybe it's because things were changed after they signed up for an account? Without their permission? In order to cross promote a product no one wants?

If you didn't see that coming, you had your eyes closed.

This Is Google! [youtube.com] Are you not entertained? [youtu.be]

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (2, Interesting)

GIL_Dude (850471) | about 3 months ago | (#45940465)

Spammers didn't typically scan the phone book and use automated bots to email all the people in it. So although phone books were "databases" they weren't easily accessible with some scripting.

The OP may believe that the Google+ "SPAMagedon" isn't coming - however - I have noticed that, over the last week, I have been added to the "circles" of well over one hundred "accounts". When I click on these, most of them are marketing accounts or sock puppets. Some of the names are clearly marketing: "Angry Birds Lösung 3 Stars Games.J500", "Anime TV and Title Loans Chicago", "Fred's Best Title Loans", etc. Others, when you go look at them, are pretty clearly similar. 10 people have them in circles but they have 5,000+ circled. The posts (if there are any) are just advertisements. Does anybody really think that this was random? I am pretty sure these folks are getting ready to spam using G+. Sure, they will eventually get shut down. But I'd advise people to go change the setting in GMail that allows these folks to send you mail without knowing your gmail account.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (2)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 3 months ago | (#45940569)

Yep, but them adding people to their circles does nothing for them. Circle membership is one-way: if I put you in one of my circles it gives you access to me as a member of that circle but gives me no access to you. To be useful for spamming those profiles would have to get you to add them to your circles. As for changing mail settings, I'm not sure I'd need to do it. GMail already filters spam, and this would just be a bit more spam on top of what I already get.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 3 months ago | (#45940867)

I've got a roughly a thousand people in circles, and I'm in a about a other people's circles -- mostly as the result of playing a game in which having friends helped early on the G+ platform when they first rolled them out [Dragon Age - for whatever that's worth] -- and now from local Ingress circles.

I've always had a smattering of obvious spam/marketing accounts add me, but I haven't seen much of a change at all, and I still haven't seen one email in my inbox from G+. Maybe it's coming, but I haven't seen it yet.

...for whatever that's worth.

Re:tl;dr Phonebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940577)

Spammers didn't typically scan the phone book and use automated bots to email all the people in it. So although phone books were "databases" they weren't easily accessible with some scripting.

  The OP may believe that the Google+ "SPAMagedon" isn't coming - however - I have noticed that, over the last week, I have been added to the "circles" of well over one hundred "accounts". When I click on these, most of them are marketing accounts or sock puppets. Some of the names are clearly marketing: "Angry Birds Lösung 3 Stars Games.J500", "Anime TV and Title Loans Chicago", "Fred's Best Title Loans", etc. Others, when you go look at them, are pretty clearly similar. 10 people have them in circles but they have 5,000+ circled. The posts (if there are any) are just advertisements. Does anybody really think that this was random? I am pretty sure these folks are getting ready to spam using G+. Sure, they will eventually get shut down. But I'd advise people to go change the setting in GMail that allows these folks to send you mail without knowing your gmail account.

Yes they did, and in fact they still do.

They're called "telemarketers".

I'm done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940225)

Google, it was nice while it lasted.

All missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940233)

And that is to reduce SMTP traffic outside of google. This is a protective measure against NSA spying and a way to push people to communicate through internal pipelines.

Re: All missing the point (3, Insightful)

Dupple (1016592) | about 3 months ago | (#45940311)

That's very naive. What it means is that Google collects more private data, meta data they can cross reference to target ads and still hand it over to the NSA upon request.

Re:All missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940319)

And that is to reduce SMTP traffic outside of google. This is a protective measure against NSA spying and a way to push people to communicate through internal pipelines.

BULLSHIT.

It's to increase Google-only traffic, allowing Google to monetize your privacy by itself.

Why settle for being merely evil?

Why Google is a bad company (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940265)

One of the reasons i hate Google, along with Facebook and MS and Apple and many other software developers is the forced changes. If this is so good, why not explain your reasoning and allow for an opt-in? Why must we be forced into some sort of change that we don't want or didn't ask for? It's funny because there are so many Google fans and Apple fans and what have you, but these big monolithic software developers don't care who you are or what you want; they'll force changes on you to their own benefit and F you if you don't want it. /sigh. At least hosting a domain isn't all that hard; time to use my own email.

Re:Why Google is a bad company (1)

Kielistic (1273232) | about 3 months ago | (#45940747)

Because maintaining a huge amount of different versions and services that all need to work together is extremely difficult and error prone.

The problem is how often "our new changes are going to be great for you" really means "you don't want this at all". They make sure to couple every benefit with many things that you definitely do not want.

Welcome to SaaS (3, Informative)

Junta (36770) | about 3 months ago | (#45941189)

This is the nature of the software as a service beast.

With traditional software (Windows OS is a good example), you have three choices, embrace the change, discontinue use of the product, or keep using old product and ignore change.

The 'ignore change' evaporates in software as a service model.

Re:Why Google is a bad company (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 3 months ago | (#45941311)

That is an issue with cloud applications, and SaaS in general. You have no way of reverting back to an earlier version should a new update break things.

This is one fundamental lesson -- on the Internet, Heinlein may long since have been worm food, but TANSTAAFL is still the rule of the day. Either you pay for the E-mail account directly, or you deal with a lack of privacy.

The gmail account I have is useful for Android related stuff, but for anything professional, I use an Exchange hosted provider and a custom domain. Plus, the TOS is a lot more in my favor when I'm shelling out the cost of the account, especially the fact that only the usual people (NSA/FBI/etc.) have access to my mailbox other than just me. This is a lot more private than some providers to allow some form of access to advertisers.

Long term, I wonder about biting the bullet, tossing a couple boxes in a co-loc rack, and doing the same thing -- running my domain's E-mail on my own boxes. At least then, I know where the machines are, what type of hard disk encryption is used, what firewall (if any) is in place, and I'd know that the SSL/TLS key's signature, and if it changes, even if the CA states that it is OK, then I know something is amiss.

Why is this a "privacy" issue? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940281)

Why is this a "privacy" issue? Briefly, anyone?

Google+ is connected to your Gmail account. Google+ messages trigger an email in your Gmail account the same way Facebook messages do. How is this a privacy risk? It's a spam risk for sure and it's obnoxious that it appears to be opt-out, but how is it a privacy risk?

disallow searching in profile (3, Insightful)

fast turtle (1118037) | about 3 months ago | (#45940285)

It's the easiest solution and works across all of Google if you simply check the god damn box on the profile page to disable listing/indexing your gmail addy by Google and if you didn't do it during the initial setup or soon after Google gave us the dashboard, you deserve what you get

God damn posting filter - saying I'd posted 47 minutes ago when trying for AC - /. is going to the nuking cockroaches

Re:disallow searching in profile (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 3 months ago | (#45940389)

Isn't it easier to just ignore a mail you might get this way, since it's unlikely to end up in a priority inbox unless you've got a relationship with that person on G+ anyway?

Re:disallow searching in profile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940537)

Can you please tell me where this setting is so I can change it? There's a mountain of options in the settings page, and Control-F "index" doesn't give a single hit on any of the 11 tabs in the Gmail settings page.

Re:disallow searching in profile (3, Informative)

misterooga (1172837) | about 3 months ago | (#45940557)

Took me a while to get there.

1.Click on your icon (top right on my browser) to go to Account settings.
2. Click on Google + Settings
3. Under Profile (more than half way down), uncheck "Help others discover my profile in search results."
4. Cross-fingers, because who knows what other options will be added

Re:disallow searching in profile (4, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 months ago | (#45940725)

Took me a while to get there. 1.Click on your icon (top right on my browser) to go to Account settings. 2. Click on Google + Settings

Wait a minute. You have to use Google+ to set a Gmail account setting? I would never find that link because I deliberately do not use Google+. Yes, this is very easy to opt out of, sure.

Re:disallow searching in profile (5, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | about 3 months ago | (#45940827)

"Wait a minute. You have to use Google+ to set a Gmail account setting? I would never find that link because I deliberately do not use Google+. Yes, this is very easy to opt out of, sure."

Ding ding ding. This is how screwed up google has gotten. They sign us up for a new service without our consent, then demand we log into it to opt out of stuff we never opted into. And to do that... you have to consent to the TOS.

It's a neat little trap they have constructed. Do no evil? Hah.

Re:disallow searching in profile (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 3 months ago | (#45941029)

This message is misleadingly worded because the phrase "by creating a public Google+ profile" implies that's something you can do, optionally, if you want to.

That is the source of confusion. By skipping the step, you don't choose how your info is displayed. By creating one (or going through the steps) you get to choose.

Bennett assumes a literal reading and blames it when it falls short. The intent is to say here is how to control your info.

The decision to create a shell profile is a different problem, and is only tangentially related. If Bennett would focus on the problem instead of making assumptions, literal reading, or pretending to be a noob, he might be a valuable source. But this is just embarrassing.

You are saying that you just make a change in your profile, which the instructions already say to do. If someone reads them. Like Bennett for example.

Really missed the point (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940299)

It seems that Mr. Bennett has truly missed the point. The point is that Google no longer intends to offer anybody a new "Gmail account". Henceforth they only offer a "Google+ account with email features."

In 2014 you should expect that Google will roll this change to their Google Voice product. They will stop offering a new "Google Voice account" and will only offer new "Google+ account with Hangout voice features". After that they will eventually stop offering new accounts for their other products and only offer "Google+ account with feature".

Look I don't like the change, but Apple no longer let's you create an Apple email account that isn't also an iTunes account and they have never let you create a FaceTime account that wasn't also an iTunes account.

In fact a common complaint on Apple forums for years has come from people who originally created separate Apple email and iTunes accounts and desperately want to merge them.

Re:Really missed the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940667)

With the difference that Facetime is not forced upon you, just like you can skip icloud/itunes crap when you buy a new computer. With regards to the users who had different accounts, they only want to join them because itunes is a clusterfuck of drm and if they have purchased stuff on different accounts they are screwed on their iDevices which presume a single account.

It has nothing to do with people *liking* new services under a single ID, it's about companies forcing less maintenance problems in products. If Google Phone uses your email, they know you have google+, therefore they post your contacts, etc. They don't have to ask then.

Re:Really missed the point (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 3 months ago | (#45941035)

It seems to me they're trying to move away from having gMail as the central account to Google+ being the central account. The problem is that people don't want that because Google+ is another social service (that you don't need to use, but that's what it is.) What they probably should have done is to have a simple Googler Account service that does nothing but contain your basic information and some gommon settings. Gmail, Google+, YouTube, etc are all just service that are associated with a specific Google Account. Peopl feel like they're forced to use Google+ because it's being used as the central coontact point and some want to have nothing to do with it. If you can be emailed via it, I can understand it, especially if this new capability is opt-out, which I think it is.

Re:Really missed the point (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45941213)

It seems to me they're trying to move away from having gMail as the central account to Google+ being the central account.

It is just possible that Larry Page actually meant it when he said "Google+ is the new Google."

Sincerely, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940423)

Bennett Haselton
Age 5

Google is playing a game of patience. (3, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 months ago | (#45940427)

Google has a better revenue model than facebook. It is using that cash flow to out live competition like facebook. Facebook, despite is billion user base, is not creating any steady revenue. Google expects facebook to eventually fold and google+ will step in to fill the void because it would be the only thing with enough resources to fill the gap. It is not unlike Microsoft using its Office/Windows cash cow to outlive its competition. But unlike Microsoft, the switching costs are not very high for gmail users.

All those slashdotter bemoaning google becoming evil or waxing eloquent about privacy issues or concerned about the victims of stalkers do not form a significant enough chunk of the population to matter. If they were year 2000 would have been the year of Desktop Linux.

Re:Google is playing a game of patience. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940659)

Google expects facebook to eventually fold and google+ will step in to fill the void because it would be the only thing with enough resources to fill the gap.

Is MyFaceSpaceBook really filling any kind of void? The world worked pretty damn well before social networking. Better in the eyes of many people, including me. I imagine a future where communications are so advanced that anybody on planet earth can send real time voice to me anywhere else on planet earth and I can do the same. Oh wait! That already exists!

The Horror! (5, Interesting)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | about 3 months ago | (#45940501)

My God! It's almost as if they had taken the names, phone numbers and addresses of millions of people and bound them into some sort of large book before distributing said book to everyone's home free of charge! Can you imagine the chaos such a thing might cause???

Re:The Horror! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940699)

You can ask to be removed from such book, which BTW is not free because you pay it with your taxes.

Re:The Horror! (2)

tgd (2822) | about 3 months ago | (#45940717)

My God! It's almost as if they had taken the names, phone numbers and addresses of millions of people and bound them into some sort of large book before distributing said book to everyone's home free of charge! Can you imagine the chaos such a thing might cause???

White pages tended to be limited to your town, or a small part of your town. Not, you know, 500 million people.

Re:The Horror! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940745)

Now imagine that paper mailings and phone calls cost $0.000000000000001 per message. And are semi-anonymous. You're going to need a bigger mailbox.

$6/month to not be listed. (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 3 months ago | (#45940855)

It's been so long ago since I had a land-line account, I can't remember if I was paying $8/month for service plus $6/month to not be listed, or the other way around.

Either way, it was possible for pay the phone company so that I did *not* show up in the phone book. Which I happily paid, as I'm one of those people with a unique name, and previously had a stalker.

I dont' know what accounts I have (1)

jetkust (596906) | about 3 months ago | (#45940535)

I started out with a Youtube account then google gave me other accounts and then it said it wanted to merge accounts it created and now I have multiple gmail, youtube, and g+ accounts and I don't know what just happened.

Not the first time they've done it (4, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 months ago | (#45940589)

On the Gmail account I use on Slashdot, I had my nickname, which should be the only publicly visible name, set to "GameboyRMH." I couldn't leave the First Name and Last Name fields blank (they were separate back then) so I set them to "GameboyRMH" and "The Cool Guy."

Then one day last year my sister's giggling that I changed my username to "GameboyRMH The Cool Guy." WTF!? Turns out Google decided to expose what was in my real name fields to the public without my consent. At least my caution paid off.

Good web-based email (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45940671)

I use gmail because it has by far the best web-based interface I've seen.

Following Snowden's revelations I'd like to switch to something else. Preferably a paid-for commercial email service, but I'd be prepared to set up a server for a good open-source solution. Either way, it needs a good web interface, and my principal requirements are:

o Works well on a small screen (so doesn't try to display the message list and a message on the same screen)

o Is responsive

o Has fast search

Does anyone have any recommendations?

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