For some time I’ve considered social netwoking, having up to this point avoided joining any social networking sites. That’s right - I’m not a Luddite, yet I don’t use Facebook. However, today I was invited to join Google Plus. And so, I decided to take the plunge, and jack into the Matrix.
My reasons for doing so are multi-fold. The first is simply that social networking is considered ubiquitous at this point, and not having profiles on the major social networking sites (especially Facebook) can result in other people messing with you. Additionally, I have been interested for some time in syndicating my posts to social network sites, in hope that doing so might bring my content to new eyes.
In contrast, my reason for not joining any social networking sites is simple and singular. I’m not fond of sharing my private life. I don’t like having pictures of me associated with my name, I don’t like having people know where I live, in short, I like my privacy. For regular readers, this probably shows, through my use of things like encryption for email, and my security posts in general. I’ve never been the most social of people - I tend to be at my most comfortable with my computer, digging into an operating system or solving a problem with programming.
Enough prologue you say, tell me about Google Plus.
Well, Google Plus is a typical Google product. Its interface is fairly intuitive, although I prefer a more minimal style, and it is tightly integrated with other Google products.
And that integration is what scares me.
Within seconds of signing in, I’m was presented with a list of other people I might know who use Google Plus. The first wasn’t startling - he was the person who sent me an invite. The second was a person I know from school, someone who I’ve not exchanged emails with, someone not in my contact lists, someone who Google figured out that I might know.
So how did Google figure this out? I have an Android phone that is signed into Google - did they use that to get my location? I certainly doubt that they are using my IP address to get my location, as I’m connecting through TOR to prevent that.
And if they can figure out things like that, what’s next? Do pictures I have on my phone get automatically uploaded to Google Plus?
The other thing that surprised me was the ability to use webcams built into the browser. I know that people more comfortable with their images on the Internet don’t have a problem with using video streams but call me paranoid if you like.