Facebook Gets it. Google Doesn’t.

Facebook announced a new way for people to log in to apps “anonymously” today. You still log into the (third party) app using your Facebook credentials, but Facebook sends absolutely no information about you at all to the app.

Read all the coverage about it on TechMeme. The tech press is impressed, even to to point of wondering if there’s a catch.

I don’t know the details, such as if this is something all apps have to implement if they want Facebook login, or if developers can opt not to offer it while still using the “normal” FB login.

But it doesn’t really matter. Facebook is addressing a strong desire for privacy by its users.

Distill that even further and it comes down to this – Facebook is treating its users, at least in this case, like its customers.

Then there’s Google. Today I read that they’re going to stop scanning student Gmail accounts (because of a lawsuit). Of course the rest of us who haven’t sued Google get the same old treatment.

I’m also still simmering over Google+ logins. I’ve diligently avoided getting a Google+ account for years now. The times that they’ve auto-created one for me because I clicked the wrong button I’ve deleted it. I’m still able to use Gmail without it, but Google Voice is rumored to be shutting down soon, and the only way I may be able to continue using my Google Voice phone number is if I finally relent and get a Google+ account.

I’m not going to go into the very many reasons why getting a Google+ account may be a bad idea – you can Bing that if you don’t already know. But even though no one wants to use Google+, Google is pushing, whining and pleading with you constantly to sign up – because it’s the only way they can continue to push higher numbers of “active users.”

No one uses Google+, but the whole Internet has an account there.

We’re not Google’s customers. Never were. We’re just a bundle of data to be sold to advertisers, and they don’t give a damn what we think about that.

Facebook may not be all that different, really. But at least today they treated us like human beings. And for that I’m grateful.

Don’t Be Evil™

23 thoughts on “Facebook Gets it. Google Doesn’t.

  1. Kasper says:

    BS. Facebook just delivered better spin and you bought it Mike. They are both spying on us. General rule of thumb: nothing is free, so if they are not charging you it means you are giving them something else of value – in most cases your data.

  2. You’ve “deleted” your Google+ account, suure. With their new TOS it doesn’t matter whether you can “see” your G+ profile, they keep all the data on you either way.

    Of course, I’m not sure how you think this move by Facebook is any different. If you read their very carefully-worded description of this feature, Facebook isn’t letting you use *their* site anonymously, and they aren’t letting you use those apps without having a Facebook account. They’re just providing the option to not share the data that they already have with the other app.

  3. Sorry Mike, you’re wrong on this one. As someone on Hacker News wrote:

    “You’re an idiot if you implement this. On iOS, use the device token and implement truly anonymous login without having to deal with anyone else brokering your users’ data; I’m not sure what the Android equivalent is, but it can’t be much more difficult… Remember, if it was actually anonymous, you wouldn’t need Facebook’s help to implement it.”

    Actually what’s happening is that Facebook has all your info but simply doesn’t share it with the app. (And also provides a different facebook user id to every app.) Facebook is simply letting users decide what to share with apps. About time, the platform has been around for 7 years!

    Why should one company control identity and authentication on the web? This is the kind of crap that happens because of centralization. The web will eventually be decentralized again. Git and Mercurial have already replaced Subversion as the version control of choice for most developers. WordPress is used for blogs instead of blogger. What we really need is a decentralized social network that puts power in the hands of users. Something like http://platform.qbix.com ;-)

    Coming to TechCrunch Disrupt this year?

    • NW says:

      > “What we really need is a decentralized social network that puts power in the hands of users. Something like http://platform.qbix.com

      It looks like ‘Q’ is a framework for application development. There is certainly nothing wrong with integrating social networking features into a custom-designed application. But I don’t think this is quite the ‘decentralized & empowering’ social networking platform you’re looking for. Check this out: http://redmatrix.me

  4. SeanSmith says:

    Regarding your point about email “scanning” (wrong terminology), you could just pay for a GApps account, they apparently are receiving the same treatment: http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/30/google-will-also-stop-scanning-google-apps-inboxes-for-ads/

  5. Charlie says:

    This is smoke and mirrors. Keep in mind, this is not actually anonymity. The app you’re logging into doesn’t know who you are, but Facebook still knows who you are. They know that you logged into this app, and they’re tracking how you’re interacting with this app, and then they’re targeting you better advertisements.

  6. Ben says:

    As a developer, I would never use this because it doesn’t let me have control. Essentially if users are anonymously posting criminal and suicidal messages, we can’t take responsibility or action and it can cause a great deal of other issues as well.

  7. Ryan Pfeffer says:

    You should check out SendHub as a replacement for Google Voice. IMO, a much better voice and messaging experience. You can port your GV number too!
    (Disclaimer I’m a co-founder at SendHub)

  8. Angus MacNee says:

    FB benefits by maintaining control of the user data and by not letting 3rd parties exploit it without benefiting FB bottom-line. Ie also a defensive move.

  9. I hope you realize the you used ‘Facebook’ and ‘privacy’ in the same sentence, even worse, complimenting each other. No.

  10. Tim W. says:

    I don’t quite understand all the tin foil hat comments on this post. A lot of people (1.2 billion) have trusted Facebook with a *lot* of personal data. What they didn’t want was every website or app they log in to having access to all of that data. That’s why they didn’t trust the Facebook login button, and that’s what Facebook has addressed. How is this not an evolution for the better?

  11. I guess it was long coming. With people vying to protect their privacy, this was needed.
    On a side note, I would be obliged if you could also check out my blog DoubleThink. I’ll drop its link below!

    “DoubleThink is an up and coming blog that is extremely satisfying for every kind of a person, be it the thinker, the optimist, the pessimist, the poet, the musician, the couch-potato, the bookworm or the photographer.We are a bunch of people with different backgrounds, contradictory opinions but one voice. And this blog is our voice.”

    Come hear us at :

    http://doublethinkhub.wordpress.com/

  12. Soumya says:

    Reblogged this on Soumya's Weltanschauung and commented:
    Facebook is addressing a strong desire for privacy by its users. This needs be known and understood!

  13. Billy says:

    Google+ is annoying. It’s google spam.

  14. Karl says:

    This comment not related to FB and the merit or demerit of their offerings. WRT Google, you write: “We’re not Google’s customers. Never were. ”
    I am. Many people are. As a user of Google App Engine I generate nice revenues for Google. App publishers on Google Play are in a similar situation. I can wholeheartedly underscore the sentiment. I’ve always had a lingering frustration with getting pushed into all sorts of other services that basically saddle me with the risk of getting locked out of GAE because something went wrong with some remote other service that I didn’t want in the first place. Some may say, use a dedicated account for administrating GAE instead, to which I point to the time back when Google weeded out such accounts.
    So thanks for this post, hopefully product managers at Google read this and think through their offerings from the “real world” perspective.

  15. Steve Nixon says:

    “No one uses Google+” Really Mike? You’re better than that. You’re not techcrunch! Amazingly my G+ feed is *full* of no ones all talking about a myriad of subjects. I have more connections there than I ever had on facebook (account deleted) or Twitter.

    The whole “Google+ is a ghost town” story is old news, and was bollocks even when new. If you want a community that has interesting people who share a passion with you then G+ is the place to find it.

    • Michael Arrington says:

      The company has to use tricks to show increasing active user numbers. Healthy ecosystems don’t need tricks. Your individual experience, while interesting, isn’t statistically relevant. The numbers are what they are, and it’s a ghost town.

  16. tilakn says:

    Reblogged this on tilakn's Blog and commented:
    From uncrunched

  17. FB big-blue accounts look pretty darn stale to me, accounts often had far more activity two years ago, is FB using social identity to claim active users…

    coda: Posit online social networking sites have half-lives due to natural decay effects. Geocities/Friendster/Bebo/ Myspace/Facebook/Google+

  18. Let’s face it, these are big Corporations now with aspirations for global dominance. Facebook might be listening more now in response to public outcries, but they will do anything in their power to generate more new media slaves. Zuckerburg started it and google are aping it, and it is frustrating to be strong-armed into opening a google+ account. Let’s not be naive here, both companies will do whatever they can get away with.

  19. Theo says:

    I tried to find the reasons why a Google Plus account is a bad idea, but can’t really find anything. Can you elaborate on that a bit, Mike? Or at least point us to some articles to read? Thanks!

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