Google’s control of information

Rebekka Nelson — University student

Throughout the years, Google has become an amazing tool that has changed the way we learn, act and think.

Although some might argue that it is making us dumber, it has allowed us to search for the world’s information, including Web pages, images, videos and anything one could possibly think of. Additionally, there is the facet of Gmail and now Google+, where we can video chat with others using a tool similar to Skype.

So far, it has been an amazing ride by making our lives easier and enabling us to keep up with our busy lives.

However, it is a bit unsettling to think that bits and pieces of our personal lives are being used against us behind our backs and sold for purposes of an advertiser’s gain.

What’s really creepy is to think that after sending emails with truly personal details and things we consider or imagine to be private, actually aren’t. The trade-off is convenience for a loss of control over information about you, even words you’ve written. There’s no denying that Gmail is a convenient tool, but the fact that our messages and information are, in a way, owned by Google — that’s scary.

Although it is not clear as to what exact rights Google has over our information, they have been known to sift through our messages in search of keywords in which they use for customizing
advertising.

I understand why they do it, but what confuses me is if it’s really the best way to target the consumers, and what does that mean for the future of our culture? I mean, it’s all connected in a way.

One suggested solution is to sell more products to more people, but how can we do that if we’re only flooding people’s online Web pages and email accounts with coupons and advertisements that we think people already have an interest in or know they already have a liking to? Isn’t it better to provide more variety? If anything, I would think it’s a good idea to provide a mix of both ads you know the consumer would like as well as a few new and different ads.

In terms of what kinds of information I would be willing to share and not share, who the company can share information with and how the information can be used, I think it boils down to simple logic. I believe that the information I provide through email, whether it be a message to my mother or my name and address on my email account page, should be made exclusive to Google and me.

It doesn’t seem ethical for the company to have their way with an individual’s information however they please, especially since email is such a basic necessity these days.

Even with the explosion of social networking sites, such as Facebook, I think email will continue to have a place. Since it has become such a necessary thing, it only seems right that there be some rules and regulations set in place.

Like any new communication technology, we need to learn to adapt in order to utilize its capabilities to the fullest. It seems fair these companies search elsewhere for their data. Tracking us like we’re delinquent children is not only creepy, but it may end up hurting us rather than helping. Consumers will get annoyed eventually; and yes, we will find a way to dodge the bullet.

With that said, I realize that at the moment most of my information and email messages are exposed and owned by someone else as well as sold to others.

In the end, I think we will change. Whether it’s for the better, well, that is up to us to decide.