Why I have reservations about joining Google+

When I first heard of and saw Google’s new social networking site, I was really excited.  It looked like a great alternative to Facebook.  I like the ability of placing people in different categories.  Facebook has become so out of control, that there are many people following me whom I have no connection with at all.  They are just friends of friends of friends who saw me and decided to add me as a friend and found my profile through a roll of the dice.

There are other people who befriended me on Facebook that I had to remove.  I don’t want self starts and men who have been ordained by some “other Catholic” church using my credibility drawing innocent people into their fold.  Just as and example, I had two men claiming to be the legitimate successors of St. Peter as friends.  There are others who started out as a priest and a few weeks later, they are bishops of their own domain.  Many of these men are just as much a bishop as my golden retriever.

I also have friends on Facebook because they are my “real” family members.  I have people from every day life (you know, the real world), friends, and co-workers.  I have a good number who are members of the Catholic Podcast community.  There are people I went to school and graduated with but haven’t seen since that day long ago.

However good and important many of these people are, they are all mixed up in the same pot of stew.   There are things that I want to share with everyone, there are also things I want to share with collaborators on a project, and things that I want to share only with my family and friends. There are some things that I don’t want to share with complete strangers and wisdom tells us that we darn well had better not.  Well, you get the idea!

I want a way to separate all of my friends into different groups and move them around at will.  I want to message one group, three groups all all at once.  I want to be able to have as many or as few friends as I choose.  And, I want to have complete control over who views my information.  I want my information to remain my personal property and not give my rights to some overgrown self start company like Facebook or Google.

I heard some things about Google’s new service, so I did a little investigating into the Terms of Service and I don’t like what I read.  Read on and see if you are willing to agree to Google’s terms.

11. Content license from you

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions.

11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above license.

So, it’s possible that I post my profile picture and suddenly see it advertising some immoral product or service by Google or one of their collaborators.  They might take portions out of my podcasts to give a message contrary to my beliefs and or morals.

As long as Google has such unjust terms of service, they can keep their social network!


9 thoughts on “Why I have reservations about joining Google+

  1. Anything you share with Facebook, is owned by Facebook. Same goes for Flickr and Dropbox. Read their TOS.

    • I do not think that is terribly accurate. Giving someone “license” to use something is *not* giving them “ownership”. Only an owner can give license. Consider when you purchase a song from iTunes… you do not actually get ownership of the song, you only get a license to listen to it on a particular number of devices or in a particular manner. Even though you “bought” the song you can’t go modify it and sell it, or use it to in a commercial for your parish.

  2. 11.1 bothers me, although the other two requirements are necessary for google to run the service (for instance, it may need to compress your video to transmit it over another company’s network to deliver it to one of your friends).

    With respect to 11.1, it bothers me too, but as the previous poster mentioned I think you’ll find every social networking site has something similar.

  3. From Facebook’s Terms (2.1):

    For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

  4. These are quite common Terms. Google needs your permission to be able to perform the services you’re hoping they can. (i.e. chatting, sharing photos with specific groups, etc.) I’m not a lawyer or anything but I do have a lot of experience as a web developer and here are some good reasons I think they might be asking for this permission:

    “perpetual, irrevocable,” – because it’d be a legal nightmare trying to keep track of which licenses have expired and who needs to renew one.

    “worldwide” – because they don’t want you taking them to court in some obscure place, and because the content will be displayed anywhere your friends login to Google+… they don’t want the technical nightmare of “oh, iPadre only allows us to share this picture in the USA, so we can’t display it in France”

    “royalty-free” – they’re not going to pay YOU so that you can share pictures with people]

    “and non-exclusive” – so you can also upload pictures to facebook, or sell them, or give them away or whatever. google doesn’t want to “own” your stuff

    “license to reproduce” – they backup servers and have multiple copies of everything, perhaps putting your images on servers in various data-centers around the world helps increase speed and reduce cost

    “adapt” – resize your profile pic for example

    “modify” – change from a .gif to a .jpg for instance

    “translate” – what if I’m using the German google+, it’d be cool if google could automatically translate your stuff. Might also be in relation to changing from a “gif” to “jpeg” or even PDF or whatever.

    “publish” – if you don’t give them permission to do this then they can’t show your friends ANYTHING.

    “publicly perform” – I’m fairly sure this is another way of saying publish. Perhaps some places consider the internet “public performance” legally.

    “publicly display” – ditto

    “and distribute” – again, this is vital to the performance of the service.

    I do not think that they would try to use your image for immoral propaganda. However, assuming they did I am sure that there is a bit of room to suggest that these terms apply to and were agreed upon with the understanding that the license was for the purpose of providing Service. I’ll bet that whoever is hosting iPadre.net has a similar agreement.

    Actually, even this comment and all the others on the website are governed by a license agreement with Disqus. (http://docs.disqus.com/help/29/) which includes such language as “Your use of a license [i.e. copyright etc.] in connection with your compilation does not affect Disqus’s right to access and use it in connection with the Services, the Site or otherwise in connection with our business.” 😉

  5. As others have already said, this is pretty much standard on social media. I understand Father Jay’s concern, but that concern must be universal and not just applied to Google Plus. I have OTHER concerns about G+, but I still think I am going to dive-in an early adopt for future use. It will improve as people use it. For some reason, I have more a trust “feeling” with Google, than with FB. Not sure why. Leo LaPorte and his TWIT crew explored this on a few shows, notably, “This Week in Google”. It may not be based on anything provable, and Google does make mistakes, but their “Don’t be evil” company motto means something to me.

  6. Not a Lawyer, but I don’t see anything nefarious here.

    Google + is integrated with search, archival, and other features, requiring the licence as written.

    If due prudence is used in what is posted (unlike the example of accepting friend requests from anti-popes), then there ought to be minimal concern about misuse.

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