Google Chat

By reeset / On / In Google

Just a few random thoughts about Google Chat.  Since use my Gmail account for quite a bit of communication, I find that I’m nearly always logged in.  Well, because of that, I use Google’s Chat a lot.  Generally, in other chat clients, I tend to never log my conversations — but just today, I was wishing I had and found that Google does.  I’m not sure what I think about that — personally.  On the one hand, it was really handy having an archive of this conversation — while on the other — there are many potential areas for abuse.  I realize that you can simply delete conversations as you would any email — but I’m not sure I like the direction Google has been going lately.  In the past, Google took a very hands off approach to software and feature development — essentially forcing users to opt in when giving up information.  However, that’s seemed to change to an opt out model.  Its a small change — but a big one. 

–Terry

4 thoughts on “Google Chat

  1. Terry, I agree that Google shouldn’t assume that we want to save transcripts by default, but in other areas, they are on the privacy vangaurd. Their “off the record” feature allows chatters to prevent their transcript from being saved in anyone’s account.

    Google is the first commercial chat provider, so far as I know, to say “we don’t need your data”, and that’s huge.

    http://www.google.com/talk/chathistory.html

    Caleb

  2. But again — you have to take action to make this happen. I took a simple poll around the office of users that use Gmail (unscientific — only 9 users) and the chat feature. Do you know how many knew that their chats were logged? 1 — and that was me. So while Google does provide the features to make chat’s private — does this make it ok that users must discover this feature themselves or read the lengthy EULA to see that their conversations really might not be as private as they might believe.? I don’t think so.

    –Terry

  3. Agreed, opt-in would be better. On the whole, it’s not so different from browsers not making us opt-in before we send websites referring URLs.

    There is an implicit contract with every site we visit that they will record our IP address, what pages we visit, search terms, cookies, useragent, referring url and whatever else they can.

    Google made it all explicit by putting ads on search pages and gmail – what we type earns them money, and we all get to use Google in exchange.

    It’s great to see an awareness of privacy issues in chat starting to grow (slowly, as evidenced by your survey).

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