Sunday, February 14, 2010

Google Buzz

On the 13th, Lawyers, Guns and Money, a blog I read regularly, posted the following complaint (originally posted at Fugitivus a blog which is not open to the public) regarding Google Buzz:

I use my private Gmail account to email my boyfriend and my mother. There’s a BIG drop-off between them and my other “most frequent” contacts. You know who my third most frequent contact is? My abusive ex-husband.

Which is why it’s SO EXCITING, Google, that you AUTOMATICALLY allowed all my most frequent contacts access to my Reader, including all the comments I’ve made on Reader items, usually shared with my boyfriend, who I had NO REASON to hide my current location or workplace from, and never did.

My other most frequent contacts? Other friends of Flint’s.

Oh, also, people who email my ANONYMOUS blog account, which gets forwarded to my personal account. They are frequent contacts as well. Most of them, they are nice people. Some of them are probably nice but a little unbalanced and scary. A minority of them — but the minority that emails me the most, thus becoming FREQUENT — are psychotic men who think I deserve to be raped because I keep a blog about how I do not deserve to be raped, and this apparently causes the Hulk rage.

F--- you, Google. My privacy concerns are not trite. They are linked to my actual physical safety, and I will now have to spend the next few days maintaining that safety by continually knocking down followers as they pop up. A few days is how long I expect it will take before you either knock this shit off, or I delete every Google account I have ever had and use Bing out of f---ing spite.

F--- you, Google. You have destroyed over ten years of my goodwill and adoration, just so you could try and out-MySpace MySpace.

As a note, while the concerns expressed in the above complaint are personal to the author, they are no means limited to that one individual. Depending on the study, either one in five or one in four women are victims of a completed or attempted rape (see here) at some point in their lives, and 70 percent of the perpetrators are "intimates, other relatives, friends or acquaintances" (source) who might show up as being a contact for the victim.

Of course, the problems with Google Buzz aren't limited to rape victims (see, e.g., Google Buzz: Privacy Nightmare). Instead, they're just one more example of how, when communication is commoditized, it will eventually be made publicly available.

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