Gmail Is Too Creepy

A lot of people are clamoring to get Gmail invites (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) and use Google’s 1GB web email service, but many of them aren’t looking at the dark side of Gmail, which is pretty dark indeed. Gmail-Is-Too-Creepy.com is a site the tells you about the dangers of Gmail and their policies. After reading it, I’m pretty set on not replying to anyone with a Gmail account, and I also hope those who do have it don’t send me emails from their Gmail account in the first place. I don’t see what the big deal is. 1GB is nothing these days with hard drives with lots of space quite cheap, why not keep all your saved mails on your own computer, where it belongs?

5 Responses to “Gmail Is Too Creepy”

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  1. Gmail is/has:

    – 1 GB, plenty space for those use free services and always out of quota (might not be a biggie for you and me, but for millions of others it is)
    – Excellent threading
    – Super fast
    – Excellent searching capabilitites. Fast too!
    – Very good spam protection
    – Innovative grouping. Very logical. I love it
    – It is made by Google, I love Google, Google is my friend, it helps me every day on my personal and professional sides
    – Did I say it is superfast?

    See also, Gmail hype and Gmail is not for everyone and others

  2. Excellent post, David, thanks for sharing that. I haven’t read up on the positives of Gmail, and from what you list, those are nice positives. I think Google just needs to clarify their policy a bit when it comes to Gmail and the saved emails. Since most of us don’t have nothing to hide, it’s not a worry. But say if someone is playing a game, and he mentions two words in an email that government agencies are scanning, such as plane, crash, and kill, well then you may have a problem.

    I agree with you too, Google is my friend, has helped me tremendously, and up to now, they have given us no reason to distrust them. I hope it stays that way.

  3. My friend Mary posted this re: Gmail. It’s an interesting read:

    Here is what my friend Karin had to say about gMail. Don’t know if this
    makes a difference to anyone, but I put it out there for your reading from
    someone who actually helped develop the technology Google is using.

    – Mary
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    It would be extremely hypocritical of me to judge Google for using
    this technology, since I helped to develop it :) — this ability to
    analyze the semantic content of a document/text/email comes from the
    technology they acquired when they bought Applied Semantics (where I
    worked — on the text analysis technology — prior to coming to the
    Lab).

    The thing that you have to understand is that the keyword in the above
    sentence is “electronically”. It’s software that’s “reading” the
    emails, not people. And the net result is that you get ads which are
    far more relevant to you — there is nothing more annoying than ads
    for singles websites when you’re reading messages for a parenting list
    (IMO).

    And Yahoo may not be doing it for their emails, but they are certainly
    doing it, to a lesser degree, for their groups. It’s not a
    coincidence that you see Pampers ads when you read PumpMoms on-line.
    Of course, in that case, they are not using very sophisticated
    technology — they aren’t actually scanning the messages, they are
    just using the categories that the groups are placed into, but the
    business motivation is the same — they will make more money on
    click-through banner ads if the ads are more relevant to the people
    reading the messages.

    I personally don’t think this technology is an invasion of privacy —
    the emails are being scanned for content, yes, but the results of that
    scan are used to present *you* with relevant ads. The results of the
    scan are not stored anywhere, and even if you click on one of the
    advertising links, the advertisers aren’t given any data on *why*
    their ad was brought up as potentially relevant to you. The
    advertisers don’t even know *who* clicked over to their site — when
    you click on the link, Google tracks that there was a click-through
    (but not who clicked through) and then just opens the target page in a
    new window. So information about what kinds of messages you read
    isn’t being distributed anywhere, or used for any purpose other than
    to make your personal experience better. Yes, the result is that
    Google hopes to make more money on the ads because they are more
    relevant to you, but the data about what you’re reading doesn’t go
    anywhere.

    There’s another product which Applied Semantics was developing, and
    which I hope Google will implement one day, which is based on the same
    basic technology but perhaps makes it more clear why you would want
    this sort of thing. Imagine having websearch and web browsing much
    more integrated — so that you’re reading a webpage, and would like to
    find more information about the topic you’re reading about. Rather
    than having to open a new search window and come up with keywords of
    your own to search on, you could just click on a “More like this”
    button or something similar and the technology would scan the page,
    figure out what the content of the page is, and then search for other
    pages which have similar content (and they would of course use this to
    bring up relevant ads as well). Google already does this on their
    search pages, but the technology there isn’t as sophisticated as the
    Applied Semantics content analysis is. I think that that would be a
    very cool tool to have on my desktop, to make web browsing more
    efficient. But the issues are the same — you have to allow the
    software to scan the page and figure out what the content is. It’s
    somewhat more anonymous because you’re not logging into an email
    account, and the most they can track is an IP address, but the IP
    address already gives them a lot of information.

    BTW, when I registered for Gmail IIRC I was not asked for any personal
    information other than the name that I wanted to use on the account
    (e.g. for the “From” line) — unlike Yahoo who tracks addresses,
    telephone numbers, …. I could have used Mickey Mouse for all they
    care. It would require some work on their part to track me down.

    Personally, I love Gmail. The interface took me a day or two to get
    used to, because the organization of the email is quite different from
    other email programs, but now I find it incredibly convenient and
    useful. Plus you have the power of the full Google search engine
    built into your email and so it is super easy to find specific
    messages you’re looking for.

    I don’t think that Google is going to have many problems — Gmail will
    take off even if there are people out there who don’t sign up for it
    simply because of privacy concerns.

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