Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est

The Latin quote, often translated to English as “Knowledge itself is power” and attributed to both Sir Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes.

There’s another quote I’d like to reference: “Don’t be evil“. Often thought to be informal corporate motto or slogan of Google, but it’s more formalized than that as it actually appears in their Code of Conduct as well as their corporate philosophy.

So while the veracity, quality & attribution of the former translation might be suspect, the latter is completely unambiguous.

Don’t. Be. Evil.

I blog this not to be an asshole (that’s a separate issue), but to make sure you’re informed.

Find out what Google knows about you by checking out your personal Google dashboard.
See what their ad products think of you (so you can see how they’re targeting you).
They also have a guide to data (both online & for Google products).

After you’ve made yourself smarter, square that knowledge with their recent blog post explaining privacy policy and terms of service updates.

Don't be evil.
Don't be evil.

I leave it to you to decide whether or not Google’s being evil. The main issue, as Forbes points out, is likely that of framing.

From a comment by the author of that post:

I think the problem here is framing this as a privacy issue. There’s no change in the information that Google has about you, but rather in the way that it’s used.

I think, first and foremost, most folks underestimate just how much Google knows about them.

And why would they or why should they care? Things like the social results brouhaha from last week prove that people care about the sausage-making of their search results and that serving the user (another of Google’s core tenets) is key.

So while Google has every right to make their policies more uniform, users ought to know (and they can by clicking those links) what Google knows.

You just can’t say you weren’t informed, though. Arm yourself with knowledge and decide for yourself.

Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est

UPDATE: Here’s a good tool for folks who want to see how search would work without some of Google’s recent social enhancements.

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