Thursday, June 04, 2009

Yes Google will become Big Brother, because users don't care

In this article the author is asking the question whether or not Google will become Big Brother (if it hasn't already). Google, Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo, AOL and MSN (the Microsoft online presence) are all competing for the so called internet "eye balls". Since Google's main source of income is paid advertising they need to do two things in other to be competitive: first make sure that the internet users spend as much time as possible on a Google web page so they will spend a lot of time in front of the the ads and secondly Google needs to make the ads relevant to the viewer. If the ads are not relevant then the user will get annoyed and leave the web page and maybe more importantly the advertiser will not get value for money. For example putting viagra ads in front of teenagers will both annoy the teenager and waste the advertisers money. So how does Google solve these two problems? They do this simply by collecting as much information as possible about the people visiting their web sites so that they can target the ads as efficiently as possible.

Unfortunately for Google collecting this information about their users is limited by such things as privacy laws. (which in some countries are stricter than in others). Google's approach seems to be to get people to agree to having their (personal) data collected in return for which they will provide "cool" features like being able to ask a question like "what shall I do tomorrow?" or "what job shall I take". So will Google turn into big brother? The answer is yes because first of all users tend to click on "I agree" without reading the details and secondly because the new generation of internet users do not seem to be too concerned about privacy, which is evident from some of the stuff they publish on their facebooks, myspaces etc.

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