Google+, farewell

I like good design and good services. Both, Google has provided.

But I also like privacy and being able to remain anonymous, when I wish to.

I. The Google Privacy Policy

The new privacy policy of Google does not allow that.

Admittedly, I have not read the previous versions since quite some time, but I would be delighted, if anyone could tell me how the paragraph about collecting device-specific information, i.e. identifying my computer uniquely and my phone number, if I am on a mobile connection, which may automatically (!) connect these with my google account, are not a perverted thing that can be used for evil purposes. That is not less “evil” than the new time line by Facebook (the practices of which they seem to wish to be sharing in pointing out that they may reject requests about which data are stored about someone if they are, int. al., “extremely impractical”).

Basically, if I understand it correctly, it means that if one has got a google account, even if I log out and then use google on my notebook, they will know that it is me – they will even then know what I have searched for.

II. No Real Anonymity for the Masses

Furthermore, even towards the outward world, despite the outspoken criticism of many a user, Google has decided to allow for nicknames only in addition to displaying one’s real name, and the use of real pseudonyms is strictly limited, cf. e.g.,

III. Censorship

Additionally, Google is walking in the footsteps of Twitter in aspiring to enable similar means of Censorship in Blogger (the argument, thus one would “only” have to not show certain posts in a country were they are illegal – informative on Mashable– does not mention that, in being able to do this, the threshold for actual censorship can become much lower).

IV. Other Social Networks might not be better

Now, that does not mean, that other social networks were better. They are not. In fact, as to privacy settings and options as such, Google has done much better than its greatest competitor, as far as I can judge. But that is no justification that Google, which from its motto as well as its powers and ability could have lighted a beacon of freedom, for following the others.

V. Enough of that

I have got enough of that (Actually, that is esp. about I. and II.).

In the next days, I will delete most of the contents of my Google+ account and stop using Gmail as my primary mail-account. I have deleted most of my photos (which, admittedly, I had never intended to stay online for longer anyway). I will inform many of my contacts of the reason.

I will also mostly use either Tor, when using Google (although with the awareness that the content of my searches may be viewed by ill-willing server operators, and I wonder, whether not this risk might also be too much), a Google scraper, or other search engines (This article is also informative; the use of add-on like “TrackMeNot” may also be an option, although I am not sure how “fair” it is in relation to that Google does provide good services and needs to earn money, after all.)

If only enough people would do the same.

VI. Further Reasons for leaving

Another reasons for leaving is unrelated, although, if not Google had forsaken anonymity, I would not have left: Even if one is not very active in a network, it can cost time.

Unless one profits greatly from it in terms of one’s real aims in life, there are more important deeds to be done. And my field of interest, spirituality, still does to be more active on Facebook (or, maybe, I just had not circled enough people). One whom I sincerely enjoyed reading, though, is active here.

VII. Outlook

I will keep the accounts for various reasons for the time being, but use them quite carefully; if I should leave completely, I will take with me the knowledge where to find those I have circled – and you can find me right here, at my blog, or one of my homepages.

What is so precious to Google, my data  – they shall have them to a much lesser degree.

It may be, that, in the future, I might return to using Google+ for marketing reasons. Then, strictly limited to entering data I want to be disseminated as wide as possible. Better we use Google than letting Google using us.  But, in general:

VIII. Do we need Social Networks anyway ?

As to social networks – why do we need them? Do we have to be so convenient? We can just interact with our blogs or homepages. We can link each other’s pages, as we used to do, comment, use the names we like and have our data stored at the servers of a provider we trust.

And freedom shall rise anew.

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