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Does Picasa Tagging Violate Your Google+ Privacy?

Is tagging an image the same as sharing an image?

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Does Picasa Tagging Violate Your Google+ Privacy?
[ Social Media]

Google+ is really concerned about privacy, or at least, that’s the approach Google takes. When new users sign up, Google has a number of “are you sure” responses when privacy settings are adjusted. Clearly, they are trying to pick up the slack where Facebook failed. What, then, is the problem with a new feature in the updated Picasa platform, Google photo-sharing software? Apparently, Google’s motto concerning tagged images is “tagging is sharing,” and it has some users unhappy with the feature.

Before the reaction is addressed, Google explains the tagging feature quite clearly:

Tag approval
You’ll receive an email letting you know you’ve been tagged in a photo. By default, name tags by people in your circles are automatically approved. You can view or remove tags at any time on the photos homepage in Google+ as well as the Photos tab on your Google profile. You can also update your settings to manually approve every name tag. When a tag is approved, the tagged photo is posted to the Google+ stream.

Tag visibility
Name tags are visible to people that can view the album. Approved tags link to your Google profile. Unapproved tags are still visible on the photo, but they don’t link to your profile. In addition to appearing on the photo itself, photos of you with approved tags will be displayed on the Photos tab on your Google profile and the photos homepage in Google+.

Now, the fact that tagged photos automatically appear in a Google+ stream is what has people up in arms. Understandably so. Sharing is not something that should be standard. Users should be able to pick and choose what they share. Apparently, from Google’s eyes, when you add a tag, you are agreeing to share it. Nevertheless, people aren’t happy with this discovery. Over at the Picasa help forum, reaction isn’t kind:

Apparently I can no longer organize my web album without sharing it to the world!?
In this help doc http://picasa.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=1306701 you say that “Tagging is sharing”, that means that if I choose to rganize my web album with tagging people in it I (by default and no option not to) share it to everyone I tag EVEN if I do not share it with a single soul! This is WRONG and a major PRIVACY concern!

And [sic]s are included:

I completely agree. This move goes against Google’s supposed philosophy of controlled sharing within circles. Like many others, I use PicasaWeb as a backup and for organising my photos, choosing exactly who I would like to see them. I pay for the extra storage and have been very happy with it. Why on Earth would I want everybody that I tag in my photos for organisational purposes to be emailed about it, and then able to share my album with whoever he or she pleases? I also do not want others to have control of the tagging of my photographs, which I organise so meticulously. PicasaWeb was not a social network, and forcing it into becoming one renders it useless to all of the people who have used it for so many years. I thought that Google were going about + the right way up until now, but this is a disgrace.

And one more:

Here’s a specific use case which highlights why this is completely unacceptable unless something is changed:
I import all my photos from my camera using picasa to a “photos” folder. This folder is “synced” – meaning any changes are updated live to the web album. Eventually, I like to reorganise those photos copied from the camera into separate folders… but this takes time. In the meantime, if “people” tab in picasa identifies some of my friends in some of those photos… well, guess what? If I accept the people tags (without easily knowing which folder those photos were from) then the WHOLE FOLDER is shared with them… and the potentially anyone else in the world.
Why is this REALLY, REALLY BAD? Here’s an example of things I’ve taken photos of that are in my photo folder right now: my passport, my lease, my room and personal items, friends in private gatherings, etc.
Someone could potentially use this information for identity theft, etc.

There is NO WAY that this is going to work, google. NO FREAKING WAY.

Is this overreaction or is Google subtly pushing Google+ on to the masses now, by making tagging such a universal sharing feature? Comments like the ones featured go on for two pages, and if this isn’t addressed by Google, it will only get worse from here. Of course, one wonders why someone would take a picture of their passport and post into a publicly-shared album, but then again, the user obviously didn’t know they were sharing such images.

Currently, there isn’t much response to glean further information from, but you can bet if the outcry gets loud enough, Google will take Picasa’s tagging feature back to the drawing board, at least in terms of Google+.

Does Picasa Tagging Violate Your Google+ Privacy?
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  • http://onlymeworld.com Shiromasa Yamamoto

    Over the next few years as competition heats up among social networking sites such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Content, features, and services will be important but the two most important deciding factors will be Privacy, and the sharing of Ad Revenue.Privacy regardless of social and/or information is not as protected as most people think on social networking sites such as Google+ & Facebook. If you have an email address or real name, there are companies today who are able to track this information. Most search engines that crawl these sites are able to atleast get Jane Doe’s User Name. Both Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin have excellent privacy settings, and different ways to protect it’s users privacy, but both fail to address the real issues at hand. The real issues most people have today about privacy is the amount of information these sites are collecting about its users, the way this information is being collected, and how this information is being used. One thing that social networking sites today don’t want to tell you, is that any site can be hacked! The only way for sites to combat this problem is to not ask it’s users to provide their real names, and email addresses.As to the sharing of Ad Revenue, there is only one site today that allows it’s users to place their own Ads on both personal & business profiles.ONLYMEWORLD is less the 20% complete, and may not be as savvy as some of the other social networking sites, but early on seem to realize that Privacy and the sharing of Ad Revenue is paramount to both longevity & success in the industry. Their platform is similiar to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Linkedin, yet differ because of their willingness to protect it’s users privacy, and the sharing of ad revenue. The best part…It’s Absolutely Free!

  • http://www.varunmittal.info varun

    Keep your picassa backup pics as private albums and then tagging in them wont send any e mails…