Wednesday 20 June 2012

Google ain't that smart!

If like me you use Blogger in order to pollute the internet with useless rubbish, you will have noticed a few months ago that various boxes kept popping up to do with privacy. Google, who own Blogger and most other things on the internet that are not owned by Microsoft or Apple, have been changing their privacy policy. I have no idea what this means, but the way notice of it was being plastered all over the place suggested an attempt to thwart criticism of their latest plan for world domination in advance of it happening.

It interests me very little, but nonethless I thought that I might have a quick look to see if I actually needed to do anything to prevent them selling my mother. The first thing I chanced upon was something about biscuits. A cookie to be precise. I do not understand cookies other than in the most general sense. I have no idea how they are created (baking?) but I do know that they store my passwords and mean that I can actually access websites that I want to use. Without the magic of cookies, I would be lost. You would probably never hear from me again. Every single website on the planet needs a password, and I do not have the excess mental capacity to remember them - cookies are therefore good. Sometimes, and I don't know why, all the websites start asking for user names and passwords again. I infer from this that someone in cyberspace has eaten the cookies, and it is incredibly annoying.

The first thing I looked at was called the "Ads Preference Manager". My preference would be for no Ads, but if it keeps it all free, so be it. I never click on them anyway - Google, you have failed. And in fact, it turns out that Google really has failed. Based on my cookie, they have prepared a summary of my interests, and inferred my demographic. I thought it worth sharing.

OK, so maybe they have a point with the cameras, but non-alcoholic beverages? I have never been so offended! Until the next bit about my age: 55-64? That's somewhere between two and three decades away from my actual age! They must think birding is the exclusive preserve of a few sad, old and decrepit wrinklies on the point of claiming their state pensions and bus passes, rather than the mainstream hotbed of dynamic young go-getters that it actually is. I've never heard anything so ridiculous in my whole short life! Pffff. This shows very clearly that Google is massively out of touch with real life. Totally unlike birders.

I clicked on the opt-out link, which took me to another web page where I could see which companies were targeting me via cookies. This revealed an astonishing 58 companies. Even more astonishing was that I'd heard of only three of them, and one was Google. I must be immune to the power of advertising. I could understand if the companies were ones like Leica, Canon, Fisher Price, Swarovski. But they're weren't. They were things like Batanga Network, which offers unrivalled exposure to the US Hispanic population, and Glam Media, which claims to be #1 in Women's Lifestyle. This is ridiculous, and ......and at this point I got bored. I'm sure there are gazillions of other snippets of 'useful' information that Google is harvesting from my computer every single minute of every day, but what you don't know can't hurt you, and as far as I'm concerned they can have it. Really, they should make a massive red button at the top of your Google account which says "TURN OFF EVERYTHING", but that would be too easy. So instead they rely on the fact that most people are as inept as I am, and have very low boredom thresholds. Whatever. Right, I'm off to browse some more burrito sites.

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