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Dear Google, My Friends Are Scary, Can I Opt Out?



profileCards.jpgIf you’re a user of Google Reader, you’ve probably already discovered that your friends shared items are starting to show up in your account. In addition, you may have also spotted that Google is moving into the social networking business with the introduction of “Google Profiles.”

Both of these services scare me!

OK, so my friends aren’t scary–although I’m sure it won’t be long before they start sharing stuff that my innocent eyes would rather not see–but what is scary is that Google won’t let me opt-out of these services. In fact, according to Google, I’m pretty much SOL.

Take a look at the shared items in my Google Reader account. Sure, I can manually hide items, but can I stop new ones from showing up? Here’s Google’s suggestion:

Removing a friend

To remove a friend from your list, delete them from your Gmail contacts:

1. Open your Contacts list by clicking Contacts on the left side of any Gmail page.

2. Select the contact you’d like to remove.

3. Click Delete Contact at the top of the page.

4. Click OK.

See, no “opt-out.” If I want to stop the sharing insanity, I have to delete the friend from my contacts.

OK, but surely I can prevent others from viewing the newly created Google Profile, right? After all, I didn’t ask for it, and if I wanted everyone to know about my life, I’d share that info on Twitter or Facebook.

Well, there’s no opting out of Google Profiles either. I can edit the information to the point of uselessness, but I can’t simply opt-out of the service.

I know what you’re thinking: “Andy, what’s the big deal? This is information that you’re already sharing anyway!” I know, and I’m really not looking to opt-out….yet! But, do you know what Google has planned for Google Profiles or shared items? Do any of us know? All I know is that it’s a little worrying that a company that has access to all of my data, won’t give me an off switch. Give it another ten years, and this is what will play out…

Andy: Google, I’d like to stop sharing my information with the world.

Google: I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Andy.

Happy Monday! ;-)

  • http://blog.immeria.net S.Hamel

    Andy, what about using the nice “Manage friends” link just under “Friend’s shared items”? From there, you can hide or show your contact’s shared items without actually deleting them from your contact list :)

    I’m a lot more scared by Facebook’ way of sharing your friends friends information all the time. Just this morning: “Aurelie Pols and René Dechamps Otamendi are now friends with Nathalie Perreaux.” Do I know that “Nathalie”? Do Aurelie & René want me to know they are friends with her? Do I even care?

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @S.Hamel – yeah, I mention that option in the article. Still, why does it need to rest on my shoulders? Why can’t I just tell Google “thanks, but, no thanks?”

  • http://www.newmediatype.com lex g

    Andy,

    Who needs friends anyway ? Just delete them ..

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  • http://www.rluxemburg.com lux

    The drumbeat of concern over the level of involvement Google has with our online lives is going to get louder, not softer, as time goes by.

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  • Um.

    When you originally shared your reader items you made them public. They have always been visible. You opted-in on day one.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Um – true, but I didn’t opt-in to have a profile shared across the web. I also didn’t opt in to view all of my friends stuff.

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  • Kelley Mitchell

    I loved the line from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Google has become HAL! Thanks for sharing Andy.

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