Friday, May 07, 2021

My Reservations about Google Photo

Whilst I was once a fan of most things google, these days not so much. Perhaps not totally against it yet, I still use it as the simplest way to include images here in blogger and very occasionally as a way to share a photo.

  1. Don't Build on Rented Land. The problem here is you don't really have control of your content. Google have a long history now of just cutting loose otherwise decent applications. Building a large library of precious family memories and them finding (supposedly for free) and then finding you can't add to it or access it, should not come as a surprise to you. The fact that they are proposing to charge for storage after June 1st. is a pertinent reminder of this, but don't panic there are things you can do now.
  2. The Backup & Sync, the little application that google will supply for you computer or phone acts like a vacuum cleaner it such up everything usually before you have had a chance to review them. There are not curatorial tools to help you cull the duds and less than mediocre. So whilst the Ai based image content search are often impressive they are still prone to the common pitfall of any Ai based system, they get used to the garbage and will not reliably find everything that you are looking for. You will see some nice results, and see some clearly wrong results; but you will never know about the gems you missed.
  3. Its a bit spooky, This is really a personal observation. Google is collecting so much about you that even though they claim they protect your privacy they are building incredibly detailed profiles of you and your everyday activities, justified that they will be creating target ads, buy supplying their advertisers with aggregated profiles. There is a specific claim in google photos at the moment that they don't use your photos to target adds. However if you really want to scare yourself take a look at your timeline that is being created in google maps. For sure there will be where you live and work, where your kids go to school ... it is scary when you realize what is available. Whilst it is seldom your photos google also gets other information from Gmail, your phones location data, your google searches and chrome browser. Google does also offer tools to manage which data is collected, but I'm sure you never realized just how much is being collected and aggregated specially on you in the normal working with a google account and their "free" tools.
Unfortunately I have foreseen many of these issue developing, and yet I still keep giving google the benefit of the doubt. So please use google photos with your eyes wide open.

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