Google and its Public’s Relations


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Here’s a term that executives at Google have apparently been looking up: Privacy as a PR issue.

The CEO of the search engine, Eric Schmidt, has been media storming lately, trying to play down the level of information it knows about us, its users. But in doing so, Schmidt is also revealing just how much Google really does know about us, and the access it has to our personal information.

During a recent interview on CNN, he said that while Google does not read Gmail, it does keep all searches we conduct for up to a year and a half. And because so much data is available and being tracked, privacy is more important, not less important.

“There’s a reason why private thoughts were invented by generations before us. And the fact that teenagers, for example, will blog every known internal thought that is now retained on the Internet for the rest of their lives – (that’s) not a good thing.”

As a society, Schmidt continued, we have to think about that. “The Internet, because it has a sort of perfect memory, remembers all these things, including things that are not true.” Yikes!

Still, it’s an improvement from a year ago, when Schmidt told CNBC, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

Ouch. A little media training might have coached him to say, “maybe you shouldn’t be posting it on the Internet.”

More recently, in the spring, Google caught heat after admitting that it had, unwittingly, collected personal data from unprotected Wi-Fi networks across the globe. I blogged about that in May.

Look, it should be no surprise to us that the list of groceries we just bought will be examined, sliced and diced and finally applied to marketing strategies that will reach us by email, direct marketing or on smart phones. But consumer researchers take great pains to mask identities and protect privacy.

Communicating that protection is as important as product innovation, pricing strategies and customer service.

Lisa Biank Fasig
Lisa leads the creation of editorials and feature stories for COLLOQUY and oversees the work of contributing editors and writers. With 18 years of reporting experience, most in business and specifically consumer behavior, she is highly skilled at researching data and teasing out the trends. A background in graphic design enables her to see ideas in three dimensions and tell the story visually.


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