The other day, while on YouTube, (and yes, I go on Google’s YouTube to keep an eye out for what Google is up to and what gets posted) Google decided to use its video sharing website to advertise another service the company offers. Right on the front page of the website, there was a video uploaded by Google itself and so I clicked on it.
The video is titled “Google+: New Dad” and it features a new father with his newborn son. The video is in high definition, has light soothing music in the background, lots of shots of the baby, and a man’s voice throughout the video. The video is obviously intended to make us go “awww” and pull on our heartstrings – but after you snap out of the cuteness spell Google put you under, it’s time to face the ugly facts.
The video Google uploaded is advertising its social networking site called Google Plus – more specifically, the photo-sharing capabilities on Google Plus. The video ad tries to lure people to upload their photos to Google Plus by telling people if you lose your mobile phone, which has all your precious photos on it, you shouldn’t worry. If you uploaded those photos to Google Plus, it will still be on there. So if you lost your phone, you can always have access to those pictures from any device.
Now, that might seem all wonderful and all, but let’s examine what this really means for you and your pictures. This is what Google says it can do for you:
“With Google+ Instant Upload, every picture you take on your phone is instantly backed up to a private Google+ album. It’s a simple way to make sure you never lose another memory. Download the Google+ app on your phone “
Private? Hmm, not so fast!
Let’s now look at Google’s privacy policies, shall we? After you….
Please delete metadata? HA! As if people are actually going to do that – I can bet you that the vast majority of people who will forfeit their pictures to Google do know that their photos have a wealth of information stored into them and wouldn’t even know how to get rid of it. Google says,
“The information that’s displayed along with your photo may include attributes such as camera model, exposure, ISO, aperture, focal length, location data and the time and date the photo was taken.”
In addition, when you use Google’s photo service, these are only things they admit they record of you:
“account activity (including storage usage and number of log-ins), data displayed or clicked on (including UI links); and other log information (including browser type, IP-address, date and time of access, cookie ID, and referrer URL).”
Remember, when you upload those photos – you essentially forfeit those photos to Google to use them indefinitely. Here is something else that should freak you out: Google says that your photos “may also be indexed and discoverable in third party services, such as search engines”!
Felix Salmon of Reuters said that Google can tell:
“where and when photographs were taken, and an advanced facial recognition feature that allows Google to identify individuals it has seen in one photo in any photo in the user’s digital library. Integrating just these three services with Google’s core search function could allow Google to locate individuals in virtually any digital photograph on the internet, and so derive where each user has been, when, with whom and doing what. Add YouTube to the mix, or Android smartphones, or whatever other database Google develops or buys – the implications are breathtaking.”
Whoa, talk about Big Brother – or should it now be Big Google?
Fathers, and mothers, keep the adorable photographs of your precious children to yourself and don’t give it away to Google. It isn’t worth it.