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Beowabbit
Now mostly on Facebook (and rarely caught up even there)
I’ve Tumbled 
27th-Oct-2011 10:00 pm
Geek: LiveJournal
Not that I need another social-networking site, but I’ve just joined Tumblr. Same username as here. If you’re on there and I should follow you, no promises, but let me know.

(Ceterum autem censeo G+ esse delendam.)
Comments 
28th-Oct-2011 03:04 am (UTC)
Are we going to salt the earth at Google HQ as well?
(Deleted comment)
28th-Oct-2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
Well, Papieren, bitte, for starters, but #nymwars is just the canary that demonstrates that Google should not be in charge of the coal mine.

I have a lot to say about this that I haven’t had time to write up, but here are a handful of things I can throw out haphazardly for now:
  1. Google has near-monopoly control of a large swath of the Internet, and a large swath of the way money is made on the Internet
  2. For Google also to be in charge of a big part of how people communicate with people is deeply dangerous.
  3. Facebook’s policies are at least as bad as Google’s, and it’s software is arguably worse (although I find Facebook more practical to use than G+), but Facebook (1) is so incompetent that nobody expects it to actually be able to enforce its policies, and (2) does not also control huge other parts of many people’s lives in ways Google does.
  4. The Supreme Court has found that the right to free speech enshrined in the Constitution includes the write to pseudonymous and anonymous speech. Now, (most) Constitutional rights protect us from governmental intrusion into our rights, not corporate, and Google is under no legal obligation to protect its users’ free speech rights (any more than Monsanto or Exxon is). However, Google’s reach is so broad that if it becomes the way people chat with their friends, for all practical purposes, it could for practical purposes become the government (and a transnational government only beholden to its stockholders, at that) as far as speech is concerned.
Social networking and social media is too important to let the company that effectively creamed all the other search-engine providers (clearly, by having a better product!) also cream all the other social networking and social media providers. When G+ started, I hoped that it would replace Facebook, but it became clear very quickly that that would make free speech and democracy (somewhat) more precarious, rather than less. And if Google were to effectively replace not just Facebook, but also Twitter and Flickr and LJ and MySpace, that would be a catastrophe in the making, and pave the way for the sort of dystopian cyberpunk future where everybody’s computer is essentially a viewscreen from 1984, and something like the Arab Spring or (especially, since we’re talking about Google’s real customers feeling threatened now) Occupy Wall Street couldn’t happen because everybody self-censors for fear that their phone or their TV or their email will stop working. That’s the extreme scenario, but a lot of what happened during #nymwars made it clear that people who were willing to continue using G+ were generally the people who were willing to self-censor a little bit for the convenience it provided them.

G+ and #nymwars turned me, for one, from somebody who felt neutral-to-positive when he saw a Google logo, and was very slightly more likely to click a Google ad link because it was a Google ad link than if it were some other ad link, to somebody who feels a little revolted by the Google logo, and who actively looks for ways to give Google less of his money. (Unfortunately, their services are very good and very very convenient.)

I don’t want Google to die, but I do want them to be a bit chastened, and I do want G+ to die.

(I wish Wave had survived, because the open federation model is a much safer one for the health of the internet.)

Edited at 2011-10-28 06:28 pm (UTC)
28th-Oct-2011 07:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, the fact that while Google’s goal with their profiles policy is clearly to satisfy their advertisers, the net effect is racist, sexist, ethnocentric, and classist doesn’t help.

(And I know they’re making some nebulous changes to that policy. Too late, trust is gone.)
28th-Oct-2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, and some commentary from Jamie Zawinski. The comment thread is informative, especially aestetix’ comment of 20 Oct 2011 at 1:51 am.

From Jamie’s reply to a commenter:
"If you don't like it, don't use it" is the coward's way out of an argument, and it's dishonest. You're allowed to have an opinion of whether a product suits your needs that is more subtle than "buy / don't buy", and people who try to reduce all criticism to that binary proposition are either being deliberately dense to push their agenda, or are... well, being unintentionally dense, I guess.

Especially when that product is being pushed by an 800 pound gorilla like Google.

"If you don't like how every extant phone company behaves, then don't buy a cell phone" might have seemed a reasonable response from someone like you back in the 80s. Today it would sound pretty ridiculous.
The thing about cell phones in the 80s really captures what I find so disturbing here. (Particularly since Google actually does have its fingers in people’s cell phones, mine included.)
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