Google is promising that its new Google+ Sign-In is a way to avoid all that “social spam” that unnamed other services (cough, Facebook) “spray” into your social timeline. Hey, I know Facebook can get aggressive. But how about a reality check on Google’s supposedly altruistic move?
Google Account Sign-In Had No Social Worries
For one, I had a perfectly good way of logging in to things via Google without worrying somehow, some application or website was going to create the social spam that Google’s worried about in its blog post today. It was called a Google Account. Not a Google+ Account. A Google Account, which wasn’t necessarily linked with my Google+ account.
Why, I could (and still can) use my Google Account to login right here on Marketing Land in order to comment. In doing so, I don’t have to worry about whether my comment is going to be shared on Google+ or whether a zillion other things are going to happen beyond my comment. That’s because my Google Account had nothing to do with Google’s social network, Google+.
So today, I’m supposed to feel like Google is finally offering me a solution to whatever social spam problem I was worried about? I think not. By pushing Google+ Accounts for sign-in, I now have to review things I never was concerned about when using my Google Account.
What Google+ Sign-In Gets & Gives
Consider what happens when I go over to OpenTable, one of the launch partners for the new Google+ Account sign-in:
Wow. When I sign-in with a regular Google Account, I don’t have to review any of this stuff (I sure don’t remember having to do such a thing), because the application or website typically isn’t getting anything. But now, I have to understand that:
- The site or app will know my name, my “basic info” and a list of people I know on Google+
- It’ll get “basic info” about my account
- It’ll get my email address
- It may share my activity on Google+ by default to any of my friends
If I want to understand more about this, I get to go on a parade through the more information areas. What’s my basic info? First, the overview:
OK, OpenTable apparently needs my full name, my profile picture, my Google+ ID, my age range and my language to participate in the site. Oh, and a list of my friends. Oh, and whatever is “other publicly available information in my Google+ profile.” Well, it’s public, I guess.
Moving on, the next info window adds that OpenTable will get my gender and my birthdate, as well as my country and my timezone. A third info box reinforces that it’s getting my email address. Finally, I’m told this about what Google is going to get from OpenTable about me:
Google’s going to see what I do at OpenTable (everything? just some type of specific actions?), and then it’s going to share or make use of that information by default with all my friends, not just within Google+ but also when my friends do searches at Google, when they get ads served by Google or on other Google services that aren’t defined.
Wow, I’m just really thankful at this point I had Google looking out for me here, offering the Google+ Sign-In as an alternative to the Google Account Sign-In, which required nothing of this reading, dissecting, worrying or guesswork.
What Facebook Sign-In Gets & Gives
Of course, what the Google+ Sign-In is really positioned against is Facebook. Google never names Facebook in its post, but that’s the obvious target. And Facebook is still a sign-in partner for OpenTable. What happens if I use that? Surely it must open me up to something terrible, given Google’s attack post today. Let’s see:
So, if I use Facebook to sign-in, OpenTable will get:
- My “basic info”
- My email address
- My profile info, including a description about me, my birthday and things I like
- My status updates
- My friends’ birthday
It might also share things to my Facebook timeline that can be seen only by my friends, by default.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like what the Google+ Sign-In is going to do. But, let’s drill into each area, because Facebook — like Google+ — has additional information you can use to explore.
My basic info turns out to include my name, profile picture, gender, Facebook networks I belong to, my Facebook user ID, a list of my friends and anything else I’ve made public:
What Google & Facebook Do The Same
Let’s see if we can compare the two now. Here’s what each both Google and Facebook are getting or doing:
- My name
- My email address
- My gender
- My birthday
- My profile picture
- My user ID
- Anything public in my profile
- List of my friends
- Share activity to my friends in my timeline
Anyone really feel like OpenTable needs your birthday to let you use its app or website? Like your age (other than knowing your above 18) is a crucial requirement for an app? But that’s what it’s getting, and now with the help of Google, right alongside Facebook.
As for social “spam,” both Google and Facebook are potentially set to “spray” in exactly the same way.
What’s Unique To Facebook
These are thing that are unique to Facebook:
- My Facebook networks
- Friends’ Birthdays
- Status Updates
- My Likes
I can’t say that I’m thrilled that Facebook feels like it needs to hand out my status updates, potentially, to OpenTable — as well as my friends’ birthday and things I like.
What Unique To Google
Then again, Google has some worrisome unique things:
- My language
- My country
- My timezone
- Share activity in search
- Share activity in ads
- Share activity in other Google services
Interesting. Google’s made a big deal that it won’t spray spam into Google+, which it has been careful to position, over time, as some type of ad-free refuge compared to Facebook. That’s easy for Google, since Facebook has to show ads in its social area, since that’s Facebook’s product. Facebook doesn’t have a search engine to underwrite a “pure” social area.
But despite this, Google is possibly spraying within Google+ and beyond that, spraying into its two key revenue areas, search and ads (and by ads, that means ads beyond search). It also reserves the right to spray in other ways.
Google” White Knight Or Facebook Wanna-Be?
Fair enough, Facebook has definitely had issues where it has allowed some apps to post too much into activity streams. No one wants a repeat of the horror show that was Spotify. And fair enough, with different partners, Facebook (or the partner) might be half different (as might be Google).
But, bottom line? While Google’s trying to position itself has some type of white knight to the Facebook oppressed, today’s move seems much more about being in the type of position that Facebook is in, knowing even more about what we do and use online and on our devices.
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