More Google privacy breaches in Reader?

Tonight, I removed every single blog I followed—including my own—from Blogger. My de-Googling continues. I’ve also taken myself off as an author on some Blogger blogs as of tonight, as an intermediate step of ending my association with Blogger altogether.
   I had hoped that deleting my Blogger reading list would get me off the Google Reader service, which I never (knowingly) signed up for. As mentioned recently, Google decided that my following blogs on Blogger would mean (a) it would open a Google Reader account (it was in its help pages, which I did not read—I argue this should have been on a terms and conditions page); (b) allow others to begin following that account; (c) prevent any removal of my Google Reader account, even when I did not want one.
   You would think that deleting everything associated with Google Reader would allow its removal, but no. In fact, I was rather disturbed to see the following: feed recommendations in Reader.
Google Reader recommendations
   Among the recommendations is my friend Sharon Haver’s site, Focus on Style, and another from Condé Nast’s
   Normally I would not have a problem with seeing either of these, if I was an avid Reader user, but it begs the question: if I have turned off all the sharing of my data in Google, to the point where the company claims to no longer knows my preferences, then how does it know my preferences? How does it, in this case, know that I have interests in the fashion industry? Or is everyone on the planet interested in fashion, according to Google, and these are its default recommendations?
   After all, Google itself states that it compiles these preferences based on the following:

It takes into account the feeds you’re already subscribed to, as well as information from your Web History, including your location.

Well, Google, not only have I switched Web History off (twice: once on launch and once after you turned it back on without telling me), I have no feeds.
   Which must mean, I assume, that turning stuff off in Google does not mean turning stuff off in Google. Google might say you have Web History turned off, but I am wondering if that’s just more BS from this company.
   It might have decent blokes like Rick Klau working there at Blogger, but the rest of the company seems dodgier by the day to me. We’ve already had tech support guys who know very little about tech or support (those six months probably were what kicked off my de-Googling), we’ve had the whole Buzz débâcle (Harriet Jacobs, a.k.a. Fugitivus, mentioned in that post, has since shut her blog to unregistered users after, presumably, abuse was sent to her), and now, it seems that Google spies on you.
   The 2010s will see the début of some form of portal site, but it definitely won’t be Facebook, and, at this rate, it won’t be Google.
   And that’s a shame. I like some of the things that Google has offered me over the last 11 years, but its behaviour of late, and its ill-thought technologies, remind me of another American giant. That’s the one that people in the 1990s picked on a lot: Microsoft.

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6 thoughts on “More Google privacy breaches in Reader?

  1. It’s a very small thing, in comparisson but I often wondered how on so many sites (including WordPress and Disqus) I enter my details and then when I leave comments I somehow have a profile picture? It’s always my wee small Tin Tin picture from the cover of TinTin and the soviets, a picture which as far as I knew was just my Gmail icon. As far as I can figure they must share that with all those other sites, which doesn’t matter in that sense, but shouldn’t someone have asked? What if it was my photo and I wished for privacy?

  2. You have a good point there, Pete: did we ever provide Disqus with a photograph? I don’t use Gmail, so I believe that Disqus obtained my photograph legitimately, but in your case, I’m leaning toward Gmail “sharing” your icon. The way it’s behaved (Buzz, from what I can tell, is part of the Gmail product group) suggests that there’s a serious lack of ethics when it comes to privacy issues there—especially in that Google division.

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