It’s been a while coming, but today Google announced the change in their ad and privacy policies. There’s a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo, but the short read is if you endorse, score, or +1 anything on a Google platform like Google Play or Search, then Google may include your smiling face and comments to any of your friends or colleagues in your Google+ circles. The example they give is if you gave an album 4 stars and a rave review on Google Play, the next time one of your friends or family are searching for the same music, restaurant, or Asian Massage parlor… you may well pop up in the result/review.
If you buy that, we are essentially moving to a privacy free world where anything and everything you do online is fair game. This move makes perfect sense. From a commercial point of view, I can see that the endorsement by one of your friends is likely to catch the eye and may well make that searcher more likely to make that selection. If you see the world as descending into an over connected nightmare, where we are all essentially shouting to each other in a fishbowl owned and operated by Google and Facebook, this will likely build your paranoia.
If reinforcement were needed, this week Facebook announced new advertising tools that will allow advertisers to better target ads based on shared interests. The twist here is that they invite the advertiser to state what the goal of the campaign is and, based on Facebook’s extensive knowledge of the behavior of their users, they will put the campaign together for you. In part, I suspect this is a testament to how hard Facebook advertising is to figure out given the limited experience most marketeers have with social media. They are essentially saying “don’t worry your pretty little head… we will do it for you”.
So now we have Google roping us into endorsing products and services on the behalf of those advertisers, and Facebook cutting out the middleman and taking advertisers straight to their targets. Oh… and Twitter is worth a billion dollars… or something.