Google Forcing Your Hand, Stealing Your Thumbprint

April 24, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Branding

There are a few things you should know about me. I’ll knock you over for a cupcake in a jar, I still cry every time I watch that Susan Boyle video, and I really hate it when people force me into uncomfortable situations. I mean, I know none of us like it, but I think I hate it more than most. My life is already plenty uncomfortable. I don’t need others making it any worse. Especially when I know you’re just using me.

Earlier this week there was a lot of buzz about the new Google Profiles. I tried to ignore it because I find the idea of gift wrapping your online thumbprint and then hand delivering it to Google completely absurd. I mean, why would I want to do that? But people were tripping over themselves to get in and “optimize” their information. I didn’t want to get in the way.

But then Google came after me.

I’m all for Google launching these profiles under the guise that they’re “giving you control” over your name. It’s cute. It’s a very creative little scheme they’ve started so they can easily connect all your info and then do God knows what with it. Well done. However, you can’t bully and threaten me into playing your game.

Google, The Bully

I did a live vanity search this morning to see if my Outspoken bio was making any progress rising up the search results (it is) and got this.


I know the promo box has been there for a few days, but I was kind of hoping it’d go away. You know why? Because it’s hella creepy the way they’re doing this. They’re connecting MY NAME with MY SEARCH and using it against ME. Do I get that box if I do a search for someone else’s name – my brother’s, Rhea’s, various boys that I religiously stalk – no, I don’t. I only get Google whispering in my ear to try their devil cookie if I do search for me. This isn’t Say Anything and you’re not John Cusack. You can’t play your music and expect me to fall in love with you. Back off, Google.

Google, The Intimidator

It’s one thing to repeatedly ask me to try your cookie; it’s another to be holding a gun while you do it. In case you didn’t notice, you’re being FORCED into creating these profiles. Because if you don’t do it, then you don’t get to show up in their search results and you voluntarily hand over that space to someone else.

Do a search for Danny Sullivan and you already get an assortment of Dannys to choose from.


Do a search for Susan Esparza, and look, there she is.


That means I either act like a good little girl or I risk creating a reputation management issue for myself down the road. I’ve worked hard to build up content that ranks for my name, why do I lose that ranking just because someone else decided to hand over more information than I did? What you’re telling me is that I either give you everything you want or I don’t get to play. That’s not right. That’s using your power to intimidate me into doing what YOU want me to do for YOUR selfish reasons.

Calm down, Lisa, you say. You don’t have to fill out all the information. You can pick what you tell them. Well, according to Danny’s review on Search Engine Land, I really do have to fill out all the information. Because it’s “the most comprehensive” profiles that are going to appear in the results cause they’re more “trusted”. Forgive me, but I’m not looking to give Google an easily accessible thumbprint that consists of:

  • Where you live
  • Where you used to live
  • Where you went to school
  • Where you work now
  • Where you used to work
  • What you do for a living
  • Interests
  • Any fun nicknames, or you know, usernames you may be using on the Web

I have best friends that don’t know that much information about me. Facebook doesn’t have all that information about me and they’re NOT Google. Just because you throw in the occasional “what’s your super power” question, doesn’t mean you’re whimsical and my friend. You’re not. I see what you’re doing. I don’t like it.I don’t like being forced into doing things I don’t want to do. We have no idea how Google is going to use this information. We have no idea when the profiles are going to be moved from the bottom of the SERPs to the top, making it damn certain that you need to have one or you lose your brand real estate. It’s not okay for Google to force your hand.

Bad on Google for putting people in the position to either hand over their privacy or search engine prominence.

It’s funny; people joked that one day we’d all get Google barcodes. Well, there aren’t any barcodes here. Just a complete thumbprint that we’re being lined up and forced to hand over. And if you don’t hand it over willingly, watch out cause they’ll just cut off your thumb.

UPDATE: TheGypsy was kind enough to share this link with me about Google’s social user ranking system for ad targeting, which frankly, raises my concerns to all holy hell. Do not like.

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