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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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

SEE ALSO: To My Closeted Self, I Have Something To Tell You

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. (Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.)

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town. Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community. I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK. What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives. What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all. Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back; same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others. As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being. My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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The American Morality Question No One Wants To Discuss

Trump represents a deeper morality issue in America.
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The 2016 presidential election changed America. Whether you supported Trump or Hilary, the ramifications of 2016 are becoming more and more apparent. November 8, 2016, my fiance and I had our eyes glued to the TV as we watched Trump win. We had started the night expecting to celebrate the first woman president but instead watched our fears come true.

As disappointed as I was, I still wanted Trump to succeed. No American wants their country to fail. The Trump presidency has been a roller coaster that I did not want to board, yet here we are. We have a president embroiled in multiple legal investigations ranging from Russia's interference in American democracy to sexual harassment claims. Our country is more divided than it has been in many years. The question becomes, where do we go from here?

Some may argue that the first step is Trump's impeachment. While that is a possibility, in the long run, I will leave that to Mueller and Congress when the time comes. America's issue is not an issue of our president, but what he represents. Trump represents a plethora of moral issues that have risen to the surface once again in America.

Trump ran a platform on fearmongering of immigrants. The same immigrants that helped build our country. Now ICE is rounding up immigrants across America to deport them if they do not have the proper paperwork.

Trump has a long history of racist actions and comments. The racism that was shoved under the surface is now rising once again. From Charlottesville's protests to police brutality, even to instances such as a Starbuck's manager calling the police on two customers due to their race.

America would have called for Obama's impeachment if his morals were on the same level as Trump's. Trump rebels against what a white Christian American majority preaches. He has had multiple wives (divorces), multiple affair scandals, etc. Yet Americans keep making excuses for him. It is time to stop. Stop making excuses for Trump and justifying your own vote that got us here. Start addressing the issues that are coming to the surface.

I see conservatives saying it isn't a "gun" issue, it is a heart issue that is causing gun violence across our country. If you can believe that, why won't you believe the same goes for our president? That the same goes for the racism and sexism plaguing America. When we have to teach African American boys what to do to survive, something is wrong with our country. Something big.

America's heart needs to be fixed and it has been a long time coming. Years and years of injustices have occurred without a reckoning. Without a moment of truth for those who have ignored the many issues in America. I can only hope that our moment of truth is coming now.

Examine your morals and discover where they derive. Are they from religion? Are they from society? Are they from hate? Are they from love? Who do you want to be? Someone who is fueled by hate or someone fueled by love?

Cover Image Credit: PBS Newshour | YouTube

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