Is Google Laughing at the FTC?

Posted by on March 30, 2011 in Business News [ 0 Comments ]

Today Google launched +1, a personalized social search feature, (similar to the Facebook “Like”) in the face of a Google Buzz FTC privacy invasion ruling.

We all remember Google Buzz. The failed social networking service that generated more buzz for publicizing Googler’s information than it did for generating positive buzz. Well Google has agreed to settle with the FTC on claims that it used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy policies with Google Buzz. More specifically users of Google were upset that they were involuntarily sharing information like email addresses, geo-locations and more on Google Buzz. From the ruling, Google is required to revise its privacy policy to prevent future misrepresentations, and implement a comprehensive privacy policy that is subject to independent privacy audits for the next 20 years. The ruling also requires Google to ask consent before sharing information with third parties.

Google responded in a blog post today with, “we don’t always get everything right. The launch of Google Buzz fell short of our usual standards for transparency and user control.”

Conveniently 3 hours later, +1 was announced on the Google blog. A social service that allows the ability to say “this is pretty cool” to a site you like. The +1 will show you other people who have liked a particular site and future search results will become more “social”. In a Google blog post today, “the beauty of +1’s is their relevance—you get the right recommendations (because they come from people who matter to you), at the right time (when you are actually looking for information about that topic) and in the right format (your search results).”

Is it really good timing, or really bad timing? 3 hours after being charged by the FTC for deceptive tactics on privacy concerns they announce another social service that has the potential to personalize search results knowing with every “personalization” there are privacy concerns. Google gets a lot of riff raff over privacy, both small scale and large scale. This shows us that Google isn’t going to submit; they are going to stand strong and continue to innovate. And if you don’t like it, use Bing.

Image Credit: Step Forth

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