Joel Gross

Google + or Minus: Do Privacy Features Mean You’re Safer?

Google + represents a big leap forward in the settings and control users have over their content, their profiles, and other aspects which seem quite important to their privacy and safety online. But do they really matter?

Probably not.

The biggest obstacle to people’s security online really isn’t the capability of the technology that they’re using. Its what they do and say on their own- user error. Many people fall into the trap of social networks, believing that they can add friends to different groups or circles based on a thin connection from the past. In truth, they don’t really know anything about that individual, and in some instances they don’t even know them at all. In fact, the US military tried to play on this in an espionage effort a while ago- generating automated profiles on Facebook so they could monitor specific individuals. They essentially created a profile to spy on a specific private individual. Neat, huh?

IF you really want to be secure online, don’t post things that you wouldn’t want a whole world of people knowing. Most people on social networks tell other users where they live, where they’re going, what they’re doing there, and when they’re going to be back. Its provided sufficient ammo for enterprising thieves to get in and get out, before you’re vacation is over. Things like birthdays and anniversaries are also frequently used for passwords and also frequently publicized to a wide variety of other groups on social networks. Allowing that data to be publicly available is just inviting risk, and there is almost no way to participate on social networks without letting something of that nature slip.

A ninja waiting to get into your house based on Google + info

Uh oh!

And, as the recent reign of terror brought on by LulzSec pointed out, often your information is never really secure! The worse offenders are the companies who are constantly monitoring, aggregating, and storing your information online. Think about how much information Google has on you after years of storing email, using its applications, and visiting its search. I can guarantee you, some of their data tracking has picked up what banking institution you use, perhaps some of your vital statistics, credit card numbers, etc. They say its all anonymous and secure, but the fact of the matter is that it really isn’t.

As long as you’re online, you have to understand that you’re being tracked and monitored (which isn’t healthy for conspiracy theorists). Google + is publicly a social network. Privately, its just a chance for Google to capture more data on the users of the web to better sell advertising (and plot a world dictatorship?). All these wonderful services and great methods of communication that we’re provided online, are all there to devour your information. If that doesn’t make you feel insecure, you’re ignorant.

Does that mean that we should disconnect and move into the woods? Only if you’re out of your meds and your psychologist isn’t answering. But above all, be careful, and operate under the assumption that no amount of privacy features, terms of use, or careful watching is going to prevent your life from being perfectly available to a huge number of people, companies, etc.

Sleep well!

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