Google's Rumored Twitter Buyout Could Raise Privacy Concerns

A purchase of Twitter by Google would allow a company that already knows too much about us to find out even more. And sell it to people who could aggressively use our words to pester us. Or worse.

Lacking any obvious way to make money, Twitter must be looking for ways to turn its search engine into a major revenue stream. How can Twitter do this in a way that users won't find obnoxious? Facebook has not been able to do it, and slides from controversy to controversy as a result.

Am I the only one who finds the notion of everyone on the planet being able to search comments I thought I was making only to friends more than a little creepy? Now automate the process and people will be providing a lot of information to third parties without really knowing who will be using it or how.

Now, combine what Google knows about your search and Web activities with what Twitter knows about your comments, interests, and relationships, and the potential danger ought to become obvious.

So, just for fun, let's toss all of Facebook's content into this mix and these wonderful "social networks" can reveal more of our personal data than many of us would like.

If our government were to monitor the semi-private conversations of millions of citizens and scour them for "interesting" keywords, there would be an outcry--and they would ostensibly be doing it to stop potential terror attacks.

Yet, Twitter already allows searches of its member's messages and nobody seems to care. Visit search.twitter.com and see if the information you find could be used in ways Twitter users might not like.

Give people a free service and they forget the value of what they are giving up in exchange for it. People will, however, start to realize it when the services start selling this information and it begins to be used in overt (and annoying) ways to separate users from their money.

The covert use of this information has probably been going on for a long time, often in ways people don't object to. Or don't know they should object to.

People say social network use is addictive. They are right in more ways than they probably realize. Once you're hooked on social networking what used to be fun can turn on you, showing a bad side you never realized you'd signed-up for.
Put Twitter and Google together, then just wait and see.

My name is David and I am a Facebook addict. It's not working out like I thought it would. Send your comments using the contact form at www.coursey.com/contact.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon