back to article Google: Go public on Profiles or we'll delete you

Google's efforts to get more Web2.0-social online have had an interesting but not altogether surprising side-effect: Profiles will no longer be hidden from view as of the end of this month. The company, which is busily crafting a social network dubbed Google+, has put the policy on how it handles its user profiles on notice. …

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  1. M Gale

    Guess who never created a profile?

    Yep. Me.

    I suggest just letting them delete everything, or pre-emptively deleting (or falsifying) everything yourself. If everyone does that, Google get fuck all. They'll change their tune faster than Steve Jobs facing a developer rebellion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't see your point.

      You seem to be making the common mistake of assuming that everybody will protest. As Google have pointed out, most profiles on their services are already public. This means that the vast majority of their users don't object to having a public profile. I don't supposed they are particularly bothered about losing a tiny percentage of their users.

      Kind of reminds me of the comments that get posted every time ebay change their T&Cs or charges. There's always a handful of commentards claiming that everybody will stop using ebay and the tat bazaar will go bust. It never happens though does it?

      I'm no fan of Google and don't use their services when I can avoid it, however I can't see them having any problems with the majority of sheep when it comes to this little matter.

      1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

        I hate the fact you are correct

        Most people are sheep. If we were not sheep then we would fight everything. The people who are not sheep are called criminals, business men, conspiracy theorists and too smart for their own good.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Yeah right

      Did you miss the part where Facebook requires proof of identity in the form of a government issues ID to get back into a temporarily disabled account, and that people provide it? The average person out there has no compunction about giving out their info to anyone who asks. The trivial percentage of people who would delete or falsify their info wouldn't concern Google at all. In fact, I'm as sure as I can be that they've already factored that into their decision and said "Meh. Who cares."

      1. JP19

        no compunction about giving out their info

        Nope your average person does care about giving out their info. Your average facebook using moron doesn't, or does but doesn't understand what they are doing, or does and is giving out false information anyway.

        Opting out of a network full or morons is no great loss to me.

        Strangely I did provide some personal information to a network the other day in exchange for the chance of a large financial gain (gain divided by chance about 50 quid). Win or loose I will be deleting the account and creating a new false one.

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Reminds me of when I called up sky last night

        The robot was collecting info from me before handing me off to a drone:

        Robot: What is your telephone number

        Me: zero two zero five .... (Can't they get that from the phone call)

        Robot: What is your post code

        Me: eee one five ...

        Robot: What is your date of birth

        Me: Go fuck yourself

        Robot: What is your date of birth

        Me: ....

        Robot: Please hold whilst I transfer you to an operator

        where as I imagine your average Sky Sports subscriber would hand over their date of birth, NI number, mothers maiden name and the 4th, 5th and second from last digits of their bank security code if it stopped them watching their football.

        1. dssf

          What would "Robot" do if you grunted like a cross of

          a drunken Khaddis the Mummy+a drunken Thai mangling Cambodian+pretending to be partially mute?

          "NGwee--Huhh-Yhang -hoo.... khowa khaw kuhh.... nn/gggg"? (that "nnnngggg" is enunciated as the sound of volts/watts/amps/sparks scintillatingly waking up Frankenstein... under-watted.... under-amped... so, you writhe and shake but cannot sit upright ...

          It might say, "Isss..S.t.a.n.d. ..by.... a...s. I .c.o.n.n.e.c....t y..o.u. ... to a Klingon-speaking on-call mental therapist in Portland or Corvallis, Oregon, United States, Earth..."

        2. Eddy Ito Silver badge
          Devil

          @Tom 38

          Nice, but you could get more creative with your phone number. I use the White House comments line just for fun. I often wonder how many telemarketers they get because of it and then, oddly, I get a warm happy feeling inside.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Said it before...say it again...

        If anyone is STUPID enough to put personal info on ANY of these lame "social networking" sites...then you should bloody well deal with the consequences...and don't whine when you get stalked...harassed...etc.

        1. L1feless

          Re: Said it before...say it again...

          There is a wonderful presentation about Google and how it tracks you by Marlinspike I believe. One of the main topics of that presentation is that there are certain social implications of NOT participating in these common social technology driven systems. When the majority of those around you are using a service like Facebook and key social events live and grow from within Facebook such as Social Gathering Invites and communications it becomes much more than just dealing with the consequences of having your personal details potentially exposed. By not participating you run the risk of segregating yourself socially from what is arguably a very large number of people.

          So it is not really a matter of stupidity it boils down to a willingness to comply rather than question for their own personal gain the fastest.

          1. Boothy

            @ L1feless

            My social group is already at the point of needing to be on Facebook, otherwise you miss out on things.

            My main social circles, about 30-40 people, ranging in age from early 20s, through to mid 50s, and are all, with one exception, on Facebook.

            I watch a lot of live acts, bands, comedians etc. and all the local venues that do this kind of thing are on Facebook, and most of the bands I see regularly are also on there.

            So it's very easy to see, in one place, what is going on, when and where, without having to go looking around all over the place, or on individual venues web sites etc. And as Facebook use an Open standard for their Events calendar, this is easily added to things like Google calender, so all the events and details from Facebook automatically show up on my phone. (Android)

            This makes organising nights out, letting other people know what's going on etc a breeze.

            But this does mean our one friend who won't sign up, gets left out now, as someone has to remember to call or text him every time something new is going on, or details have changed.

            I have very little personal info on there, I don't play games, and I don't normally read the friend news feeds etc.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Flame

              a

              And that's exactly the issue - no one REALLY needs to keep in contact with 30 - 40 people. They aren't friends, they are acquaintances who you hang around with to bulk out the numbers when you go out so you feel more popular.

              If you were actually friends with any of them you wouldn't need facebook because you would be in direct contact with them regularly.

              Chances are the 1 guy who is now being missed out actually doesn't really like you and you don't really like him either.

          2. Someone Else Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            @L1feless

            "By not participating you run the risk of segregating yourself socially from what is arguably a very large number of people."

            Given that that very large number number of people has a collective level of sophistication and awareness that rivals a warm mushroom, being segregated from them rather works for me.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Mushroom

            Do you REALLY think I give a Rat's Arse...

            ...about the "social implications of NOT participating in these common social technology driven systems."?

            I choose to LEAD...not FOLLOW.

            I refuse to be a Lemming...PERIOD.

            "By not participating you run the risk of segregating yourself socially from what is arguably a very large number of people."

            I've managed to ge through six decades of life without "social networking" so far...I'll take my chances.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC - Yeah Right

        "Did you miss the part where Facebook requires proof of identity in the form of a government issues ID to get back into a temporarily disabled account, and that people provide it?"

        Actually that's a bit of a red herring to be fair. This is only the case when an account has been disabled and the owner wants to re-enable it and even then it's not every time. IOW it's not a particularly common occurence. IOW "most people" do not provide it, becase most people are never asked for it.

        And the significant thing about people using false names is that the name they use is false (well duh!) so they are not losing anything worthwhile if they lose the account so they are likely to just set up a new one under a new false name. And even so has it occured to you how easy it would be to produce a fake scanned copy of a driving licence. It's not like they will be checking these licences with the issuing authority, so you just scan a genuine licence and bugger about with it in an image editor.

    3. jubtastic1
      FAIL

      That's exacty what they want you to do

      As far as they're concerned youre basically deadweight, sucking the bandwidth and cycles away from normal users that don't run adblock, have nice easy to target profiles and click on the money links every now and again.

    4. Paul M 1

      Re. Guess who never created a profile?

      So is "Gale" not your real name then?

      1. M Gale

        "So is "Gale" not your real name then?"

        I don't know, is it?

        Is Paul yours?

    5. rebelwithoutapplause

      me neither

      I just checked, and I don't have a google profile to begin with. That's just fine with me, because I don't understand the importance of networking. It turns out that networking is just not enough to get by in today's heady world of business both monkey and otherwise. What you really need is to build your own personal brand. If you've ever overheard (or imagined that you overheard) people talking about your own brand of crazy, or your own brand of idiocy, you need to emphasize your craziness and/or stupidity. Do something memorable, and your personal brand will soar in value.

      PS why does it look like this entire post is a quote? I'm trying to improve my personal brand by only posting my own word salad.

      PPS we need vegetarian alternatives to poutine and parmo

  2. Grease Monkey

    Facebook

    And how many people do you know who have accounts on Facebook under false names? It's hardly uncommon.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Here's one..

    Will Google delete accounts even if you don't have a profile setup? My GAccount says "You do not have a profile setup. Begin now." or something similar, would Google see this as a private profile and delete me?

  4. banjomike
    Happy

    What if you don't have a profile at all?

    I have several Google accounts but none of them have a profile. I get prompted to create a profile when I login.

  5. Havin_it
    WTF?

    Request for clarification

    I don't follow exactly. What do they mean by "deleting your profile"? If you don't create a public one by month's end, what exactly happens (assuming like 99% of Gmail users, you've never even been aware of "profiles", public or otherwise)?

    Do they also shitcan all your mail, Docs, sites validated in Webmaster Tools, Picasa albums, etc? I assume not, as that would entail serious uproar among those who didn't get the memo. The extent of what this will actually mean isn't at all clear to me.

  6. yeahyeahno
    WTF?

    What exactly the point of a private profile anyway?

    Does one look at it and feel all proud that only you and Google know what you've put on it?

    1. Andy Barker

      Clarification?

      I think they are saying that they will delete your profile if it is private, and not delete your account.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Yep

        I just deleted my private profile, but still have access to GMail.

        I did get a stern-looking warning that all of my Buzz posts would be deleted (0) and that I would lose access to all of the feeds I was following on Buzz (0) as well as all of my followers on Buzz (0).

        TBH, it was Google who co-opted me into Buzz in the first place without asking, so it's not as if I'm losing anything here, but the whole point of the service was about sharing stuff. Having an account that was completely secret rather defeats the point, like joining LinkedIn with a false name.

        1. Keris

          Or not

          "Having an account that was completely secret rather defeats the point, like joining LinkedIn with a false name."

          A lot of people actually have a small group of friends with whom they want to stay in touch. What we don't want is some oik we don't know 'friending' them. I don't want some random stranger knowing what I'm doing and when I'll be away (so they can break into the house) but I do want my friends to know (so they can keep an eye on the house, or possibly go on holiday with me). For that purpose a false name (known to my friends) is fine (indeed, at least one group of my friends normally calls me by a name not on my birth certificate).

          LinkedIn is a totally different thing, because the main purpose of that is indeed to let strangers find me and offer me jobs, and for that the real name (as known to HMRC) is needed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            WTF?

            so...

            why not just ask them?

        2. llewton

          nice

          imma go and delete my profile right now and i hope you're right i keep gmail, cos i kinda like to use gmail :)

          but if it goes, sigh. i'll just go back to a local email client. they say thunderbird has a new version out...

    2. David 164

      ummmmmm no one actually

      I know no one that use false names Facebook.

      An look through random combinations of names of Facebook I suspect it very rare for people to use false names, probably in the single digit millions.

      1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
        Paris Hilton

        Really...

        I've got three...

        Handy for all those facebook games when my real friends aren’t quick enough giving me knurled flange brackets so I can build my atomic chicken pucker.

        So if google block any of my accounts I just have to send them a photoshopped... sorry photocopy of my passport????

        Paris, I wouldn’t mind poking her

        SIgned: Otto Malcolm Peter Brian Telescope Adrian Umbrella Stand Jasper Wednesday (pops mouth twice) Stoatgobbler John Raw Vegetable (whinnying) Arthur Norman Michael (blows squeaker) Featherstone Smith (whistle) Northgot Edwards Harris (fires pistol, then 'whoop') Mason (chuff-chuff-chuff-chuff) Frampton Jones Fruitbat (laughs) (squeaker) Gilbert (sings) 'We'll keep a welcome in the' (three shots) Williams If I Could Walk That Way Jenkin (squeaker) Tiger-drawers Pratt Thompson (sings) 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head' Darcy Carter (horn) Pussycat (sings) 'Don't Sleep In The Subway' Barton Mainwaring (hoot, 'whoop') Von Krakenfart

        1. Mike Flugennock
          Thumb Up

          Heartily agree!

          Field Marshal Von Krakenfart sez on 07.07.11 @17:12gmt:

          "I've got three...

          Handy for all those facebook games when my real friends aren’t quick enough giving me knurled flange brackets so I can build my atomic chicken pucker.

          So if google block any of my accounts I just have to send them a photoshopped... sorry photocopy of my passport????"

          My Facebook "identity" consists of an entirely false name (the pseudonym I use to sign my cartoons), bogus birthday, bogus location, no professional or educational details, no favorite movies/tv shows/books/music listed, basically no info of any value.

          You're reading my mind on the passport, too; I'm damned good with Photoshop, and already have a high-res scan of my and my wife's passports saved in case of travel emergencies. Heh heh. All I need's a random mug shot lifted from thesmokinggun.com, and I'm set.

          Sincerely,

          Yer pal,

          Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm.

          1. Paul M 1

            Re. Heartily agree!

            So is "Mike Flugennock" an alias then?

        2. zen1

          Re: Fieldmarshal

          You wouldn't happen to be distantly related to: Otto Malcolm Peter Brian Telescope Adrian Umbrella Stand Jasper Wednesday (pops mouth twice) Stoatgobbler John Raw Vegetable (whinnying) Arthur Norman Michael (blows squeaker) Featherstone Smith (whistle) Northgot Edwards Harris (fires pistol, then 'whoop') Mason (chuff-chuff-chuff-chuff) Frampton Jones Fruitbat (laughs) (squeaker) Gilbert (sings) 'We'll keep a welcome in the' (three shots) Williams If I Could Walk That Way Jenkin (squeaker) Tiger-drawers Pratt Thompson (sings) 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head' Darcy Carter (horn) Pussycat (sings) 'Don't Sleep In The Subway' Barton Mainwaring (hoot, 'whoop') Raindrops keep falling on me head Von Krakenfart, would you?

          As for Google, they can go fornicate themselves, along with FB

        3. Someone Else Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          @Krakenfart

          There isn't a signature line on any form in the world (even in France) long enough to hold that!

          Nicely done...

    3. DZ-Jay

      Re: What exactly the point of a private profile anyway?

      You are right, there is no point to a private profile. The problem is that some people created accounts to use GMail privately, not necessarily to access a social network; and then Google decided that all accounts are "profiles," and therefore need to be public in the social network.

      -dZ.

      1. yeahyeahno

        Re[2]: What exactly the point of a private profile anyway?

        No...

        I have gmail and more, and I checked, I have no profile, and don't need one to continue using gmail.

        So given that to use what Google currently offer (Not G+ I imagine) you don't need a profile at all, what is the point of a private profile?

        1. Sir Cosmo Bonsor

          Re[2]: What exactly etc

          He didn't say "you", he said "some people". It isn't always about you, you know.

    4. Keris

      They'd better not

      They haven't sent me any email telling me that I have to create a profile for using GMail, Docs, etc. so if they do delete those things without warning (finding out via El Reg is not warning from Google) there will be complaints. Not that I expect them to undelete anything, but I have said for a long time that anyone who puts information on a third-party system and doesn't back it up locally deserves to lose it.

  7. Daryl
    Black Helicopters

    No friends for the paranoid

    So if you're even a little paranoid about giving out your personal details online, you aren't going to be allowed to join the big happy sharing club. Which will probably make you more paranoid.

    If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

    1. 5.antiago

      Nothing to hide

      "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

      Everybody has something to hide though

      1. Daryl
        Devil

        Re: Nothing to hide

        Do they? What are you hiding?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @ Daryl

          "What are you hiding?"

          My privacy.

          Is that so hard for you to understand.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. 5.antiago

          RE Nothing to hide

          "Do they? What are you hiding?"

          You know, stuff...

          Things like: opinions on topics and people that I have since changed or grown out of; employment history from times when I didn't really care, purchase history of products that indicate my behaviour (e.g. rizlas); social connections with people that other groups of people might disprove of.

          In fact, anything that falls into the category of something I won't deny if you ask me directly but that I would prefer to just remain unnoticed

          It's not just the obvious stuff like your address and NI number. Privacy is a serious issue. You feel will naked when it's gone

        3. Mediocrates Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: What are you hiding?

          Your wife's lipstick...

      2. Paul RND*1000
        Big Brother

        And if you really don't have anything to hide now...

        ...just let things continue unchecked for long enough and the goalposts will surely have moved far enough that you *will* have something to hide.

        By then it'll be way too late to do anything about it.

      3. Robert Baker
        Happy

        "Everybody has something to hide though"

        Except, of course, for John Lennon and his monkey.

      4. Sleepalot
        FAIL

        For example

        Battered wives would be a good example of people who need both privacy and a social network.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Nothing to hide...

      Daryl, what is your home address and when are you next on holidays? Wait, nevermind, got it off your profile. Enjoy your trip, I hear the weather is very nice there this time of year. Nothing to fear whatsoever.

      1. Daryl
        Facepalm

        Sarcasm Icon Required

        That is all.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sarcasm Icon Required #

          No icon required, you just need more practice.

          1. Daryl

            Re: you just need more practice

            Ooh get her.

            Did that make you feel better?

      2. Daryl

        Nothing to hide...

        Just got back. Crete was balmy, thanks for asking.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Gender

    I went for "other".

    It seemed the most obvious. How can they prove otherwise...... ahem.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      Joke

      You will have problems

      When your account gets temporarily disabled, they will require a photograph of your passport or driving license (to prove who you are), and of your genitals (to prove your gender); then they will know!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        JLC

        And what if the name you provide happens to be Jamie Lee Curtis?

      2. Paul RND*1000
        Coffee/keyboard

        Genitals?

        No problem. Should be able to find suitable pictures on Twitter if you know who to follow.

  9. Dave 15

    thoughts

    If I had a google account I wouldn't set it public and would just leave. My details are not public on any other forum nor do I want them so.

    If facebook or any other organisation wants me to send my passport as proof of who I am so I can chat randomly they can also get stuffed.

    All of these companies have proved totally unable to keep data secure - because of that they aren't going to have real data from me.

  10. Blacklight

    I think it's G+ only for now...

    but I suspect scope creep.

    The link in the article relates to a G+ help page, here : http://www.google.com/support/profiles/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1192471&p=public_profile

    If you read the help page about OVERALL profile privacy (here : http://www.google.com/support/profiles/bin/static.py?hl=en&page=guide.cs&guide=1355574&answer=1151728&p=search_visibility&rd=1) it (still) states :

    If you choose not to have search engines index your profile, your profile itself won't appear in Google search results. However:

    "Your profile will still remain visible to anyone with your profile URL.

    Other pages and content (including websites, blogs, and Google products such as Picasa Web) that link to your profile can still appear in search results on Google and other search engines.

    Changes you make to your profile visibility setting may be reflected across search engines at different times, depending on when each search engine crawls your profile page. (Learn how often Google crawls the web.)"

    1. yeahyeahno
      Paris Hilton

      Re: thoughts

      Geeez, when will people get it? You only HAVE to have a profile if you use G+, which seems entirely reasonable.

      To use gmail etc you can carry on just as you always have.

      HOWEVER, if you have a private profile (a pointless excersize if there ever was one) the PROFILE WILL BE DELETED, nothing else.

      Pariis, because some people make her look intelegent.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Creep

      I suspect that what we have here is a message from Google that all people who have a Google account with a profile will be opted into G+ automatically. Except they didn't word it quite like that.

      Of course we all know that Facebook like to brag about how many users they have. About 10% of the world's population the last time I heard them bragging.* But it took them years to get there. G+ on the other hand will probably go from zero to a billion in one day if all the accounts from other Google services are opted in.

      * Well that's 10% of the earth's real human population. Facebook don't seem to take into account all those people who have more than one account, or an account for each of their kids who don't actually want them. or an account for their dog/cat/goldfish. Or all the accounts that were setup by people who wanted to see what all the fuss is about, but now find they can't delete them. Like Google, Facebook are mostly in the business of selling advertising and the more users they can convince the advertisers they have the more they can charge and the more business they will get.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Call centres

        Don't forget all the fake ID's created by Indian call centres which are hired out for Likes.

  11. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Dear Google...

    If you do insist on no private profiles and want to be security pro-active; you should set all your accounts as public showing only full name and gender by default with all other features and services turned off until the user decides otherwise.

    My account is currently private and will remain so for many reasons. Associating a passport number or some other form of traceable ID to an on-line personal profile will be abused by private business and government. Not a matter of 'if' but 'when'.

    @Daryl - "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear." has nothing to do with it. We are moving to a dark place where if you are curious about learning about AIDS and go onto Google searching for information your health insurance will go up the next time to renew. You can get denied for a job because HR finds out one of your online friends has a drugs felony conviction you know nothing about. Once the inter-related databases are there, they will have serious repercussions.

    1. Daryl
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Dear Google...

      I was being sarcastic.

      Indeed, we do all have something to hide. That is the lever that facilitiates the generation of low-level anxiety, fear and control. Paranoia is a rational reaction, not a mental disorder.

      We are in agreement, I believe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I don't think that means what you think it means...

        Parnoia is best described as an exagerrated belief in one's own importance. To say that paranoia is a persecution complex is to over simplify the condition enormously. A true paranoid believes that everything that happens has something to do with them. That couple you just passed in the street? They were talking about you! That's so much more than believing that "the man" is out to get you.

        Sure the way the human brain is wired means we can all be a little paranoid from time to time. We are all egotists. But that is a long way from saying we all have a persecution complex.

        But your assertion that we all have something to hide misses the point. There is a big difference between having something to hide and telling just anybody about the details of your life. For example, my mobile phone number is far from being a secret. It's not something I actually want to hide, but it's also not something I tell people unless I have a reason to do so. The problem with the Facebook mentality is that it expects everybody to share every little detail about their lives as part of the social round. That isn't how real social interaction works, you choose what you tell different people. And even if you metion something you don't expect people to keep a permanent record of it.

        1. Daryl
          Gimp

          Re: I don't think that means what you think it means...

          This is what bugs me about the whole "big happy sharing club" that is FB/G+... and Flikr/Picasa et. al. It is based on the notion that we're all very happy to share personal stuff with our "friends" and to a degree, the wider public. There seems to be a dividing line between the distrustful/cautious/cynical/closed/misanthropic (draw the line where you wish) = excluded and the trusting/open/naive/gullible = included, and "None shall pass".

          What we need is a new mechanism to gather the excluded together - perhaps a new political movement. Let's call it the "People Who Hate People Party"?

          RIP Bill.

          And I am paranoid, and everything does revolve around me because I am so important.

  12. TheRead
    FAIL

    Impossible to share profiles if private?

    Guffaw.

    Because it would be impossible for Google to create a service that allows you to send generated single-use URLs to an email of a friend, giving them an option to add you. That way you could have a profile that is COMPLETELY PRIVATE from the outside world, but still allows you to stay in touch with friends by giving them something as simple as a URL to click.

    Private profiles don't allow this currently, apparently, but it could easily be allowed with such a system. They say it themselves, "The purpose of Google Profiles is to enable you to manage your online identity." Apparently they decided that you don't have the right to manage who can see it.

    Perhaps I'm just a crazy guy coming up with conspiracy theories, but Google seems intent on changing the definition of privacy by forcibly mainstreaming the idea that you don't have a right to privacy if you are using their services. If they convince you that your information should be available to everyone, it seems so much more innocent that they are gathering truckloads of information about you.

  13. Dave 15

    Cloud computing anyone?

    Who would want to put their information on servers run by people who randomly insist on changes?

  14. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Unhappy

    On the internet, no-one knows you're a dog (at the moment).

    The article mentions Facebook's "real name only" policy but doesn't indicate whether Google+ intend to enforce the same. Anyone who does is surely designing a single point of failure for their customer's web identity and everyone here will know what a bad idea that is.

    The suggestion of an earlier comment was that the majority of the general public do *not* realise what a bad idea this is and see it only for its "convenience". However, that will change over the years as more people get to know a friend of a friend who was thoroughly shafted as a result. I think it is noteworthy that the real-world equivalent of "single-sign-on & it-has-to-be-your-real-name" combination is a law stating that a duly empowered authority (like a policeman) can stop you in the street and demand to see your papers. History shows that human beings really don't like that. I am therefore optimistic that my children's generation won't have to put up with this shit.

    However, it *does* look like my own generation is going to have to learn this stuff AGAIN from bitter experience rather than applying real-world common sense to the internet. As the saying goes, "Experience is a harsh mistress, but fools will learn from no other.".

  15. Dorkus
    FAIL

    No Profile No Problem

    I don't know how this will affect me exactly yet..., but if I see more of my information out on the internet than I want, I WILL throw away my droid phone, and cancel all current and future accounts/business dealings with Google and its subsidiaries.

    If I don't want to share, that is my choice, and should remain so. I don't do Facebook, or Twitter, I don't even like posting on sites like this. If I have to stop using Google all together I won't see it as any kind of loss.

  16. heyrick Silver badge

    Impending legal issue, anybody?

    I created a GMail account. Had no choice, I *had* to when my Android phone first connected itself to the Market. I neither want, nor use, GMail, hence my profile is private. If this profile, a necessity for the correct functioning of my phone, is deleted, then my ability to use the phone (on contract from Orange, not Google) will be impaired.

    Seems to me that they haven't really thought through the consequences of these actions.

    1. Droid Eye
      Stop

      You don't understand

      A Google Profile and a Google account are not the same thing. I had a Google account for years before I set up a profile. You don't need a profile to use an Android phone.

      If you have a private profile and it gets deleted, it won't affect your Google account. You will still be able to use all the Google services (except G+/Buzz/orkut) the same way you can currently if you don't have a profile.

      If you decide to make your profile public, the only things that are required to be public are your name (my name's already on the web) and gender (typically easy to figure out if you already know someone's name.)

      Anyway, delete your profile, set it up again, delete it again, rebuild it, let Google delete it...it doesn't matter. It won't affect your Android or any other (non-social) Google service you might use.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I deleted my profile months ago

    As a prophylactic measure.

    But I love public profiles, you can find all sorts of juicy info on all those idiots who joined Google+

  18. clanger9
    WTF?

    What happens when it's deleted?

    I have a lot of mail in Gmail, but no interest in having a "public profile" (whatever that is).

    According to Google "Google profiles must have a public name. Your full name is not being displayed on your profile page. This option is no longer supported in Google profiles."

    So what happens on July 31st? Will I lose my mail?

    1. mhenriday
      Pint

      The short answer to your query,

      clanger 9, is «NO» - you will neither lose your Gmail account nor the email messages stored therein on the fateful day of 31 July 2011. Just sit tight !...

      Henri

  19. Gord
    Thumb Up

    fair and balanced

    finally, an article about Google that doesn't bash google

  20. Mike Flugennock
    Black Helicopters

    Be social, or else?

    Goddamn' hosers.

    I just now finished changing my gender to female, my birthday to April 1, my location to Tripoli, Libya, my "field" to Not Specified, my occupation to "agitator", and my interests to "downfall of Western Civlization", as well as erasing all my favorite music, books and movies.

    You want a public profile? You got one. Assholes.

    .

    @gord re: "fair and balanced" They didn't have to consciously bash Google on this one; all they had to do was report the facts in order to show how goddamn' evil Google is.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can I use the anonymous icon on another site ?

    Was wondering what the rights situation is concerning the mask icon used for anonymous posts ? Is it OK to upload it to google as the image for my public profile ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Probably better to email that than ask on a comments forum.

      However the EFG masks themselves are available from many a costume store. Got mine from Afflecks in Manchester. They sell the whole suit with hat and cape if you like. Position on a blue/green/etc background, take a photo, then edit the background out in the image manipulation program of your choice. Done!

  22. Al 4

    Easy answer

    The answer is easy how to do it, just do what they do, be ambiguous and if that doesn't work lie.

    1. Pete 2

      +1

      Quite.

      ISTM all the people bleating on about "privacy" don't appear to know what the least amount of information a google profile requirement, is.

      It amounts to a name (which you can alter), a gender (which can be "other") and nothing more. It's not as if they demand you account for every millisecond of your existence and fully document every thought you've ever had. All they require is a few bytes of unverifiable data and a status of "public".

      If you want to use Google, JFDI. If not, stop judging the intelligence and motives of others.

  23. Martin 47

    I cannot see this as being a problem

    because surely anyone who places any value on his/her privacy has nothing (or as little as possible) to do with Google anyway?

  24. joe.user
    FAIL

    What the government loves about this

    They don't have to put in effort into tracking you down or finding out who you are. So what Facebook is doing by nailing everyone down to "be who you are" backfires against the very freedom of choosing to be anonymous. Granted, being on FB itself isn't itself a bright idea of you want anonymity, but they're pressing others to give up more.

    What if I want to be vocal about my government? Why I can't I do that anonymously and not end up on some watch-list because they don't like what I have to say?

    People are overlooking what they are giving up - and why, every day. It's getting scary.

  25. carter brandon

    Profile?

    I have half a dozen gmail accounts that are several years old, all accessed by pop3. I've not logged in online since creating them, never mind seen a profile. Didn't even know I had one, or six. Never had a passport or driving licence, well, not for four wheels, but I got a bus pass last year, will that do? Where's the "fuck 'em" icon?

  26. Tony Luck
    WTF?

    what use is a profile with just {First,Last,Gender}?

    If I want to look up my good friend "John Smith (male)" - I'll get ~45,000 hits just in the USA

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What Use?

      No. That's the minimum they require, whether users add more is up to them. If you want to people to find you you could add more.

      Of course you have to remember the primary purpose of Google or indeed Facebook is not to provide any kind of service to its users, but to sell advertising. Whenever I look at any new free service I think "where's the money?"

      Like commercial TV these services have to be just good enough for the sheep to use them, but not so good that they would cost a lot to provide and maintain. Lowest common denominator ideed.

  27. Wile E. Veteran
    Flame

    Prospective employers love this, too

    More and more what you post on "social" sites is being examined with a fine-toothed comb looking for negative posts or evidence of anti-social, deviant or other "unacceptable" behavior (like that vacation where you went to a resort and spent the entire time drunk). If they find anything, your chances of being hired (or, in the future, get credit cards, car loans or mortgages) are somewhere extremely hot while you're a snowball.

  28. dssf

    Immi and immo

    Sign up for fb and "YOO weel bee aSSIMIlated"

    Espouse downfall of Western Civilization and "YOO weel bee assIMMOLAted...

  29. James Woods

    title

    What I don't get about verification requests on social sites is they are simply trying to verify you are who you say you are right? So if I say im George Bush and get photoshopped id's saying my name is George bush im george bush right? I don't get it.

    Google is commiting suicide with all of this social networking stuff. People don't want it. Google has forcefully involved people in it using it's e-mail service and has gotten away with it only because it's backed/owned by the US and other governments.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      USA-centric ideas about identity verification

      In the UK, you can call yourself whatever you like so long as no fraud is intended. It doesn't matter that there will be no passport in your chosen name, or no driving licence in your chosen name, because it doesn't matter: the sole requirement is that you do not use a name to commit fraud.

      The idea that a passport or a driving licence should be used to determine identity has a naive USA centric air about it. I am British, and I have a typical British, Anglo-Saxon name, but, living in China, my name is difficult for Chinese people to say, to recall, and to enter on Chinese computer systems and forms sometimes. So, I use a Chinese name. This is entirely acceptable in China at the level I operate at. If I get to be known by that name more widely, then how can Google insist that I verify it in any way?

      1. Cameron Colley

        RE: USA-centric ideas about identity verification

        Thank you. I had forgotten that I can choose to be called whatever I want to be. Seems the Facebook (and other) Ts&Cs really don't legally apply, in the way they think they do, outside of the US.

        As someone who almost never uses their real name on the internet I am glad to be reminded that I am guilty of absolutely nothing by doing so.

  30. Starkadder
    Linux

    Search me, guv

    Just looked at my gmail and can't figure out if I even have a profile - so don't know how to delete it (or change it for suitably incorrect information. Conclusion: is this a problem no one is actually going to bother about?

    1. mhenriday
      Boffin

      The article title above is misleading -

      whether by design or incompetence is another matter - a profile is not required in order to use traditional Google services like Gmail, etc. What Google is saying is that if one has registered a so-called «private profile», with no information provided to the public, this profile, presently accessible only to oneself and Google, will be deleted after 31 July. Given that just about the only use of such a private profile would be to check one's own information if one's memory is starting to decline, loss of such a profile probably won't inconvenience most of us....

      To check your own situation, Starkadder, just click the cogwheel icon at the right of your Gmail menu bar, select «Mail settings»,open the «Accounts and Imports» tab, and click the «Changes settings for Google Accounts». At the upper left of the «Google Accounts» page you will see the «Profile» heading, under which you will find an «Edit your profile» button. Clicking that will provide you with access to the information you have provided under «Profile», if any, and allow you to edit it. The only required information for a public profile seems to be one's name and gender ; if one doesn't wish to provide this, than after 31 July, one will not have a profile at all, and thus will be ineligible to join Google+. But then, people who don't want to provide any information on themselves to the public would seem to be unlikely candidates for Google+ in the first place, now wouldn't they ?...

      Those who are interested in joining Google+ can check this page (https://www.google.com/support/+/bin/static.py?page=guide.cs&guide=1347964&topic=1355574) for further information on profiles....

      Henri

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Gimp

    Privacy 101

    Just don't, OK?

    - No profiles

    - No real names

    - No data

    - No nothing.

  33. FuzzyTheBear
    Happy

    Got a problem.

    Since they sell our data for ad revenue , how come we don't get a slice of that ?

    Free service ain't even scraping the top of the tanker.

    That's our data .. not theirs , they sell and we get zit ?

    Think it's time to all go on strike and negotiate a first agreement with one giant.

    Let's call in the BOFH and let him handle that one 8) We'll all be rich in the morning.

    Or at least drunk :D

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Behold: The Power of Social Networking!

    People love to talk, and love to talk with their friends; but at the risk of sounding like that guy who predicted data processing won't last a year, I wonder how much of a gold mine there really is underneath it all.

    Things are at the point now they can data mine not only demographics and purchases but likes, interests, connections, and so on. Will all of this prove ultimately where and how I'll spend my money? That's what drives all of this, sponsors hoping to get me to send them money. But how much will there be a return on investment?

    Of course there's other data that would prove useful, like how I may vote, my insurance risk, what I'm influenced by, and so on. Right now it's music and purchase recommendations, but who knows in the future. I also think this predictive profiling is limiting as it figures out what we already like and gives us more of the same, not expanding us into new interests.

    Lastly, about public profiles, it seems the under 30 crowd doesn't care, and would actually like people to know who they are and get the fifteen minutes of fame. It's the older people who worry about identity theft or their personal life getting involved in their job---like being turned down for a promotion because the boss doesn't like their political views, even if you never talk about it at work. I've been getting increasingly uncomfortable with Google's ever expanding intrusion into almost everything, and it looks to only get worse.

    1. aelfheld

      The under-30 don't care

      because they've got nothing to steal. They're all living in their parents' basements.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accounts, Profiles and Free Stuff

    Those people who seem to be boiling over with indignation that Google will delete their accounts if they don't go public on their profile obviously can't read, but moreover, can't think.

    READ: Google have said they are going to delete all private profiles on 1/8/11. They have not said they are going do delete accounts, gmail or otherwise.

    THINK: gmail and other Google free services are just that. FREE. You can hardly start screaming about you account being deleted if it is free. And all you are losing is an email address.

    On another forum I read somebody ranting about their gmail account being deleted if they didn't have a public profile. They were getting very angry about all the emails and contact details they would lose. It beggars belief that somebody could get so upset about losing their emails and contact details, but not think that they should back up all that data.

  36. John Tuffen
    Stop

    Google Profile != Google Account

    from Google's "About Profiles" - http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/answer.py?answer=97703&hl=en&ctx=ch_ManageAccount

    "Deleting your profile won't delete your Google Account."

    so, deleting a profile will not prevent you from using gmail... at the moment ;-)

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  37. Robert Baker
    Devil

    Safety precaution

    Just in case Google decides that one needs a profile to access all their services -- to protect my GMail account I've created a public profile for it.

    As of today, my Google Name(TM) is "Notel Ling" and the picture is of a cute moggie. And my Google Gender is of course "other" -- what else? :-)

  38. Sophira

    Deleting *what*?

    Guys, Google isn't gonna delete accounts. They're going to delete *profiles*. If you have a private profile, that profile will be deleted. Nothing will happen to your *account*, just the profile.

    At least, that's the way I see it. Though maybe I'm placing too much trust in Google?

  39. Zolko
    Go

    I have several online "profiles"

    and none with my real names. And I signed them through OperaTor running from a virtual machine, go get their IP addresses. Sometimes I forget them, and then I create a new - fake - one again.

  40. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance
    WTF?

    Well, they just deleted my account

    Finding it hard to believe what the poster above said (sending documents etc), I mucked about

    with my profile. I didn't really have one actually except for a name that could tie me to another email. So I thought I would change it. They would only let me change the name if I provided

    the D.O.B etc.., so I foolishly put in a date that made me under 13yrs of age.

    They don't call me Mr. Hardleigh-Hadderchance for nothing ;-)

    They then proceeded to tell me that my account had been suspended for 28 days, and unless

    I provided them with official governmental documentation in the post, for crying out loud, or

    get this - MY CREDIT CARD DETAILS FFS, then they would be wiping my account totally, savagely, brutally, no comebacks and thankyou and goodnight.

    Now, I'm a little bit upset at my own foolishness and impulsiveness, but I have to live with

    that on a daily basis, so I'm nearly getting used to it.

    However, I am *slightly* more upset at losing about 4 years worth of emails, ebay account etc..

    My own fault. And I'll take it like a man and take responsibility (ouch, stop hitting yourself over

    the head with that frying pan, Bradley)...

    But if you think I am sending my Driving Licence in the post to Google a la snail mail.

    OR giving them my credit card details, you are more in LaLa land than I was to f*** up

    in the first place.

    Google - Evil, nasty, spiteful, malicious bastards.

    They just made a serious f***ing enemy of me.

    I am now boycotting the company as a whole and anyone that insists on using them ;-)

    Lord do not forgive them, for they truly know what they do.

    May god not have mercy on their souls.........

    Happy Friday to you all.

    1. aelfheld

      And their

      corporate motto is?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hold on a mo...

      "However, I am *slightly* more upset at losing about 4 years worth of emails, ebay account etc.."

      So you had four years worth of emails on a server somewhere out on the web? A FREE server that has T&Cs that state that they don't back up your stuff? And you've lost those emails through your own actions? And you're upset. Maybe you'll learn that it future you need to back up your stuff regularly, or failing that at least make backups before you make any major changes.

      Oh, and how would losing your gmail account cause the loss of your ebay account?

  41. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance

    Sorry 'bout the formatting

    I'll try harder next time.

    At least it wasn't all CAPS, which is what I was feeling at the time.

  42. aelfheld

    I guess

    sucking up all those WiFi feeds didn't work out like they planned.

    Never created a Google profile & if they kill the mail account because of it it's no skin off my nose.

  43. aelfheld

    BTW,

    what's this 'gender' nonsense? People have sex. Furniture has gender.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    fuck you google

    really, fuck you.

    I just want email and ok, targeted ads are fine, I don't want your pathetic attempt at facebook and I guess I'm now going to have to go through all the websites and such registered to my gmail address and point them elsewhere because I don't like being ordered to do shit, so fuck you.

    AC because El Reg will let me.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'M BETTER THAN KATE

    I don't mind my info being public because:

    I'M BETTER THAN KATE. I'M BETTER THAN KATE. I'M BETTER THAN KATE. I'M BETTER THAN KATE. I'M BETTER THAN KATE. I'M BETTER THAN KATE. I'M BETTER THAN KATE. I'M BETTER THAN KATE. I'M BETTER THAN KATE. I'M BETTER THAN KATE. I'M BETTER THAN KATE. I'M BETTER THAN KATE. I'M BETTER THAN KATE.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    who cares?

    My name is Brandon and I'm a guy... there... you happy now, Mr. Robot? That wasn't so hard, now was it. What bothers me about this article is the implied condescension on the part of the Google employee... no one can tell me how to best use a product. If i want to drive my 458 Italia off a cliff at 300 kph, then who the hell is some google VIP to tell me that's not the "best" use of the product?

  47. Sleepalot
    Black Helicopters

    El Reg wouldn't do that, would they?

    Of course, El Reg requires you create an account before you can make comments, and what information do they ask for? First name, surname, country, job, etc,...

  48. bag o' spanners
    Mushroom

    form a nice orderly queue

    The opinion forming aspects (briefly touched on by one poster above) are the potential goldmine.

    The sheep will always need water cooler micro paradigm changes to fret about, so anything with a high volume headcount to validate its sincerity will be lapped up. "8 billion users can't be wrong!" "don't miss out!" "It's a tasty treat for needy nerds!" Who cares if it's true, as long as it distracts?

    I can manipulate foursquare and fb checkin data quite easily without a trending botnet. I know a couple of coffee shop managers who do it quite blatantly. An occasional free cappucino is a small price to pay for a solid web "presence", especially when customers are scarce. All the more so if the new marketing wonk at Lukewarm Latte central is an evangelical number crunching webdroid.

    Sock puppetry is the most likely boom industry in this shimmering data landfill scenerio. Most PR agencies are using selective "recommendations" to improve ratings for grotty posh restaurants and overpriced hotels. They've always spun for them, but now they can do it by sitting on their arses, planting glowing praise on a zillion fly-by-night "review" sites to crank up their Google scores. Does anyone with a functioning braincell actually trust those sites?.The value of a believably detailed amoebic dysentery review of a naff restaurant, or bed bugs in the hotel, outweighs the positives by a few thousand percent. Easy peasy, because the credulity threshold is so low.

    Trending on T'Witter is seen by self-appointed "opinion formers" (some form of mould?) as saleable grist for weasel wordsmiths in the political cowshed.

    Trend-bending is equally useful to those interested in cutting the flow of bullshit generated by said cowshed. At macro level, a few hundred angsty emails to a local councillor can work miracles, because that's way over the size of their majority. We can play too.

    For those of us who grew up in the age of innocent anonymity, where tags, aliases, screen names and so forth were the de facto standard, the odds of us giving a straight answer to a duiplicitous stupid question are minimal. Fibbing to corporate zombeez is second nature.

    I didn't want a Buzz account, because it was a rubbish offering. I don't want a G+ account because it's just a means of siphoning fb networks into a blander version of the same, with bone china tea cups, petit fours, and very polite interaction with the data miners.. Their foot, your neck. Just say meh.

    Bulk data (especially in petabyte quantities) is useless without intelligent analysis, and I for one wouldn't buy into Google's (or Facebook's) tilted analysis of its own relevance, anymore than I'd buy into Standard and Poor or Moody's AAA junk bond ratings. The fact that gormless business wonks are prepared to pay money for worthless information on the say so of Google and Facebook, is a matter of little concern to me.. "Two born every minute!....Do you want to know more?"

    What's the worst that can happen? We can fire up the java chatties we mothballed ten years ago and do the dirty behind 256bit encypted brick walls with barely a byte perturbed Linking to photos on our ftp sites if need be.That would be anathema to the trend/marketing monkeys , because those of us who bother to create stuff are the seed stock for their wonderfully diverse content gardens. Remove the b3ta and Cheezeburger strains from the mix and watch it sterilise itself.

    Corporate gentrification leads to overpricing (fiscal and social), whereby the funky bohemianauts up sticks and leave a cultural desert behind them. .

    I would bet my best pair of unmatched socks that within Google's strategic heirarchy, there is a strong dweeb element who caution against blatantly mainstreaming the company into a corporate blind alley, whereby it becomes a charmless overbearing monolith like Big Blue, Microsoft or Oracle. A few doodles won't change that.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid decision by Google

    I'm surprised Google are doing this given their existing set of failures with social media. It's going to put off many people immediately. You think they'd at least build a critical mass of users then announce such a policy.

    All my work colleagues have private Facebook profiles as they prefer to keep their personal life private. I'm not going to join Google+ because of this policy and will warn work colleagues and family about it too.

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