There was quite a lot of buzz today surrounding this article about how Google has “admitted” that Google+ is more about user tracking. I didn’t find this revelation particularly surprising nor shocking. I think in the world of freemium resources and content, it’s easy to forget that companies do what they do to make money, not just to make the world a better place.
I use a lot of free Google products to manage various aspects of my professional and personal life. I realize that when I store information with someone else, they have access to that information. I even use Google+ and find that I get real value out of participating in conversations with people in a smaller group than in the throngs on Facebook or trying to sort through the disjointed stream of multiple conversations on Twitter.
Is it a bit disconcerting to think that the contents of my e-mails, my map searches and my contacts are the coin of the realm for these free tools I use? Sure. But it’s also something of the price I pay to have the tools that work together and make my life easier.
I think the notion of data privacy is both a useful and necessary addition to media literacy instruction, but I think the lack of it is not exactly a surprise. Everyone pays somewhere.