How it works:
When a user that watches several live recordings of Katy Perry performances on YouTube, they may find a targeted advertisement for Katy Perry show tickets when they log into their Gmail account. Another example of this practice could involve Google recommending that the user follows Starbucks Google+ brand page after the user utilizes Google Maps to search for a nearby location of the popular coffee chain. With user content like emails, Google+ posts, YouTube videos and search queries already being plugged into this sharing algorithm, users can expect to see more frighteningly relevant Adsense ad placements across the Web as well as intuitive recommendations when using other Google products.
This definitely doesn’t constitute a major shift in how Google has shared information between products over the past few years, but rather just simplifies the process on Google’s end when rolling out new products and making changes to existing products. If anything, today’s blog post is more of a disclosure of existing practices rather than a major shift in company strategy. As mentioned in USA Today, Peter Eckersley, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s technology project director, stated that “It has always been the case that Google kept effectively linkable records of our uses of Gmail, Search, Maps and Market for Android, and other services. Only very sophisticated users have ever been able to remove any of that linkability, and that remains the case today.”
How do I opt-out?
Google plans to notify all current Google product users of the policy change in an upcoming email as well as messaging that will appear across various Google sites. However, this new policy will not apply to Google Chrome, Google Books or Google Wallet. While Google believes that this shift will help consumers understand privacy more clearly, privacy advocates are extremely skeptical. According to Center for Digital Democracy director Jeffrey Chester, he stated “There is no way a user can comprehend the implication of Google collecting across platforms for information about your health, political opinions and financial concerns.”
This announcement of company direction is a transparent attempt at competing with Facebook and Apple. Both of those companies utilize a unified platform in regards to rolling out new products and features, something that Google hasn’t been able to produce due to fragmentation between products within the company. Google is also dealing with a backlash from critics regarding how the company integrated Google Plus posts into search results. The response from social networks Facebook and Twitter involved the creation of the “Don’t Be Evil” add-on for Web browsers which strips the Google+ information from a search result page.