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    A privacy enthusiast commented well on this article…

    “The irony is so thick. Next we’ll have arsonists writing about fire safety.”

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      I’ve come to expect this kind of hypocrisy from Google. This messaging is a natural counter to the work that I and other organizers have done to highlight the company’s ethical failings and sound the alarm. The upsetting thing to me is that this editorial will probably have a measurable, positive impact on the company’s brand, no matter how undeserved I feel that is.

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        I called out people working for surveillance companies signing Never Again pledge. Still stand by that. Have to say I respect the hell out of this comment for both you standing up on principle and the risk it carries.

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        He’s stuck. His entire business is predicated on the idea that people don’t care about their privacy. If there is pressure from consumers, what can Google do?

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          Well, it’s like greenwashing. You just obfuscate with PR pieces like this, spread misinformation (eg “we’re all for it but nobody actually wants privacy”), take tiny steps that don’t cost you much, and delay, delay, delay any significant change. It can take you through literally decades without a fundamental change to the business model. Unfortunately, corporations and their PR firms are extremely good at these techniques now.

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            We have to understand Google’s incentives if we want to understand why they do what they do, and we need to understand why if we want to speak intelligently about how they could do differently. But yeah, it’s desperate spin from Pinchai. I just don’t know what else he can say. He might actually believe it!

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              Oh yeah, there’s no surprise he’s saying that. It’s sort of “best practice” now. I just thought you might be suggesting that consumer pressure may actually force Google to act on privacy issues, and I’m cautioning against thinking that because they have a whole arsenal of techniques to allow them to avoid any real change.

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                The only thing that I can see changing Google/Facebook/Twitter/&c. behaviour is a change to the profitability of their business model, and the only way that can happen is regulatory pressure from the government. We’re not their customers. I suppose the collapse of the attention economy would do it too, but that’s not likely to happen soon.

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                  The only thing that I can see changing Google/Facebook/Twitter/&c. behaviour is a change to the profitability of their business model

                  Or, legislation. I know this is a super unpopular opinion here and on ‘hacker’ ‘news’, but there are things like HIPAA (in the US) which have actually helped preserve customer privacy to some degree. It may not be perfect, but it’s better than the current ‘wild west’ situation we have now.

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                    Regulation! Yup! Same for security and avoiding lockin.

                    One, easy option outside of regulation is to push them to offer a private version of their services for the same amount per user they make from ads. Maybe even a little more as extra incentive. If they still just spy, we’d have a stronger argument for regulation given the market refused to respond to the demand. That same thing could be the first regulation, too.

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                      Well, yes. This is absolutely the sort of problem that regulation exists to address.

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                      I do believe that it’s going to be very important for workers within the industry to help bridge the knowledge gap for regulators and legislators, so that we can get thoughtful, forward-thinking legislation that isn’t predicated on misunderstandings of technology. I am, however, skeptical about the limits of that approach, since many of the most enthusiastic customers of privacy-violating technology are governments.

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                        I am, however, skeptical about the limits of that approach, since many of the most enthusiastic customers of privacy-violating technology are governments.

                        I think there’s ample proof by what snowden, etc have ‘leaked’ to show that companies who hoard user data make it substantially easier for governments with an interest in violating privacy (either by subpoena, willful cooperation from the company, or ‘hacking’). If companies did not hoard user data, governments would have to do substantially more work themselves.

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                          Well, not substantially: just past a retention law under some pretense (i.e. fighting criminals/terrorists) making sure companies keep logs. Plenty examples of that around the world.

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                        We’re on the same page then.

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                    Even worse, the media issues that can motivate change comes in waves. The consumers want to see something right away. The patient, clever companies can use those little actions to give the easily-distracted consumer the appearance of something getting done. Then, the delays give the corporation a chance to wait the media wave out. When it passes, they might get to go right back to their schemes while consumers are focusing on other issues.

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                The hypocrisy of this article is staggering.

                Google uses advanced techniques to violate your privacy, even if you are trying to maintain it. It uses browser finger printing techniques to identify you even if you are blocking cookies. If you use Chrome, then there is an interface in Settings for blocking cookies on a per-site basis, but these settings are ignored if you try to block Google cookies.

                It is very difficult to have privacy when using Google services. First of all, don’t create a Google account or log in to Google. So obviously don’t use Gmail. In order to have privacy when using Google search or when viewing videos on Youtube, the only effective technique is to use the Tor browser.

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                  Yep. Also the Kafkaesque situation that has been developing with ReCaptcha. Where in some cases you cant succeed with any amount of solves, but if you log in to Gmail first it works right away.


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                    Google blocks Tor on their search service.

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                      I just tried it right now. This time, I had to go through a reCAPTCHA dialogue, then my search worked. That doesn’t always happen. If you are being blocked, you may need to change to a new TOR circuit.

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                        Huh, I’ve never gotten past it. Maybe it’s just blocked without JavaScript.

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                          without js recaptcha doesn’t work so you can’t get past the block

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                    Boot Stomping Human Face: Faces Deserve to be Unstomped

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                      So not even rich people should have privacy. That’s fair in some sense, I guess.

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                        sundar still will though

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                        There’s more than just a privacy issue with the way Google uses data. It only took me watching a single climate explainer video on YouTube to start getting straight-up climate denier videos in my recommendations. YouTube is contributing to polarisation and deception on a mass scale.

                        Privacy aside, vendor lock-in aside, even monopolistic tendencies aside, the core issue is that Google (and other companies) are allowed to collect data and use it in damaging ways, both on individual and societal level. Data ownership and collection needs to be handled in a completely different way.

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                          “single climate explainer video on YouTube to start getting straight-up climate denier videos in my recommendations.”

                          It drives me nuts. Gotta be the dumbest algorithms in existence. I mostly get repeat videos as the suggestions. When clearing history, I get some different stuff. I plan on experimenting with my new VPN to see if different servers on an empty browser change up the content in interesting ways.

                          One friend of mine, not s technical person, just searches for and clicks on random content every day to keep feed diverse. Got me wondering about at least running queries and clicking for different categories of things I like. I mostly just stopped using Youtube for content discovery, though. I just look for specific things.

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                            Yes, I often see a video I watched literally a minute ago pop up in the recommendations. At this point, though, I have to think that it somehow drives more views – the algorithm can’t be that bad. It’s not at all what I want, but that’s irrelevant of course.

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                              See Guillaume Chaslot ex-YouTube recommendations engineer about this: https://twitter.com/gchaslot/status/1094359564559044610

                              Also Tristan Harris spoke about the YouTube recommendations this week: https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/5/6/18530860/tristan-harris-human-downgrading-time-well-spent-kara-swisher-recode-decode-podcast-interview

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                            To make privacy real, we give you clear, meaningful choices around your data. All while staying true to two unequivocal policies: that Google will never sell any personal information to third parties; and that you get to decide how your information is used.

                            It’s a good sales pitch but I’m so not buying. Building in additional privacy controls is great, but it’s not clear to me (and this article has not changed that) that Google has any intention at all of actually helping people understand the N order implications of the data they’re choosing to give to Google.

                            They’re also not addressing the incredible amount of vendor lock in baked into Google’s products, so if you do decide to switch away, prepare for a very high friction experience.

                            I’m upvoting because I’m glad @kotrunga posted it, not because I agree with the post :)

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                              Maybe they could start with themselves. They track people on YouTube even when logged out. That’s when you see the “recommended for you”. Even pausing and clearing youTube history doesn’t help.

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                                Even pausing and clearing youTube history doesn’t help.

                                I think it does? After I did this my recommendations became garbage and so I spend a lot less time on it. Highly recommended if you feel like you’re killing too much time on YouTube.

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                                  its hit and miss for me - I stay logged out and pause and clear - and I still get them at least once a week

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                                This is paywalled.

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                                  The cache link seems to have the full article.

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                                  They feel how the ground is shacking under them. Use open and federated services.

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                                    spelling comment: shaking. Shacking is done with two people, and it’s generally televised on HBO.

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                                      Thanks! Hopefully you are human, not Google AI :D

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                                        But to your comment, I think the ground isn’t shaking. People are annoyed, but not enough to demand or understand change.

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                                          I see how people around me start asking me (as the “computer guy”), how to replace facebook and google. This is no statistics, but it tells me something.

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                                    Kind of a self-burn by Pichai, isn’t it?

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                                      Great. Now I need a new Irony detector. There are smoking chunks of electronics all over the room.