Google Can Build A Non-Anonymous Profile And Distribute Your Private Content

Google Can Build A Non-Anonymous Profile And Distribute Your Private Content

The morality of both of these issues remain subject to the opinions of the individual consumer.
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Who the heck reads privacy policies or terms of service? I know I don't. Even for me, a journalist-in-training who at least has some knowledge of how to navigate the complex jargon contained within said policies, they remain a torture for my short attention span.

Google especially is something I take for granted. When I'm in the middle of writing I'm not sure I care about how some company makes money off of my keystrokes, I just want to pull up receipts for an article I'm doing and leave.

But it's my inclination to question everything. So, I did the unthinkable: I sat down and actually picked through a little of Google's privacy policy to see if there was anything, as a Google user, that I needed to be worried about.

The most concerning thing I found? Google's information it collects on you is no longer anonymous. And according to Propublica, it's been that way since last year.

"Google could now, if it wished to, build a complete portrait of a user by name, based on everything they write in email, every website they visit and the searches they conduct," explained the same Propublica article. Around that time in my college lectures, I was still learning about how, generally, no names were to be associated with the data gained about me from my searches. Until I saw a Tumblr post this morning freaking out about this (which linked me to this article), I had absolutely no idea that Google could put a picture together of who I was.

Did you?

According to the same Tumblr post, Google also owns what you write and create on its platforms. From my experience, Tumblr is known to be a little paranoid, but as somebody who has half of all her writing saved on Google Docs, this was... concerning to me, to say the least. I did some more digging in Google's terms of service to figure out if Google really owned what you made on Docs.

The answer? No, technically, but it can use what you store there quite freely.

Google's terms of service states that "some of our services allow you to upload, submit, store, send or receive content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours."

That means, as it is, you technically own whatever content you save on your Docs, Drive, etc.. Google will not say that it owns what you create, so you're free to distribute and edit it as you please.

That said, Google later amends that "when you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our services, and to develop new ones."

This paragraph is a lot to wade through, but it means that Google and its associates can, first and foremost, see what you make at any time. Even if you don't share it with anyone, your work is never exactly private. Secondly, Google and its associates can use your content as they see fit to advertise its services. If you're a visual content creator, this means that you're essentially doing free advertising work for a giant corporation (Google can modify stored content to fit its needs). Third, simply because your content is hosted using Google, Google is free to make it publicly available at the drop of a hat.

That little "share" button on Docs and Drive gives only an illusion of control and privacy. Simply by using Google's services, you're consenting to, among other things, your content being made available to anyone if the company can say that doing so could promote Google's services.

The morality of both of these issues -- attaching names to information and specific distribution rights -- remain subject to the opinions of the individual consumer. What doesn't remain so is being informed about how exactly your content and your data is being used.

I know I'll definitely be checking out my other social media's privacy policies after writing this.

Cover Image Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Sorry People, But #BelieveWomen Is #UnAmerican

Presumption of innocence is a core American value

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There's a saying: "Lack of faith and blind faith - both are equally dangerous". Believing sexual assault accusers who are women just because they are women besides being the very definition of sexist - prejudice based on sex - is setting a harmful precedent on the way justice is served in this country. See, what this movement has done is changed justice from "prove guilt" to "prove innocence", an important and incredibly dangerous difference. Where is the due process that our Founding Fathers envisioned, fought, and died for?

Due process is an integral part of the reason why we have the United States of America. It was so important to our Founding Fathers that they included it in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eight (the Bill of Rights), and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. It galls me to see how privileged modern day feminists are - so privileged they seemingly forget the freedoms this country affords them, so they may live their life, expect liberty, and be unhindered in their pursuit of happiness.

#BelieveWomen is a vigilante movement - and with vigilante justice the innocent always hang with the guilty, one of the very reasons for due process. I've heard the argument it's better to let innocent men rot in jail than have rapist men walk free, an argument, despite being incredibly moronic and unAmerican, that would not be made if the accused was a man close to the woman's heart. Because with the change to "prove innocence", the assumption will be guilt, and a confirmation bias will be created. Whereas if the assumption is innocence, the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has occurred. I understand that a high percentage of rape accusations are truthful (I believe the number is in the high 90s), but the small percentage that are not means we cannot, in good conscience, assume guilt. To assume would damn some men to a fate they do not deserve, a fate they would have to endure simply because of their sex. Any real feminist should be appalled at how sexism is implicitly encouraged in this movement.

If you choose to #BelieveWomen in spite of everything I outlined, that is your prerogative, but you must #BelieveAllWomen. If your father, husband, boyfriend, or son gets accused, you must #BelieveWomen and stand with their accuser. Any less and your feminist privilege will show. Vocal #MeToo activist Lena Dunham has already shown her privilege - accusing actress Aurora Perrineau of lying about being assaulted by her friend Murray Miller. When the going gets hard, feminists rarely stick to their principles. And sadly, feminism - and the double standards it always brings - rears its ugly head once again.

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