Google just released an update to Google Reader. The update automatically displays your ‘shared’ items to anyone on your GMail/GTalk contact list if they also use Google Reader.
I saw this update, and thought nothing of it. JASN. Just Another Social Network.
That was until I went to read my feeds in Google Reader. My ‘news river’ was spammed to hell and back with shared items. Some interesting, some otherwise. My first thought was how this new feature would be a quite handy spam tool. Others are wondering about the less savory problems. Steve Gillmor has a general privacy take: don’t use it if you didn’t ask.
My opinion: this is symptomatic of Google’s larger problem. Google has gathered, with consent, and absolute mountain of user data, gestures, search history, and more. The quantity of data is so enormous, that even the tiniest of exposure (via a mashup/integration/’share’ or whatever) is bound to air someone’s dirty laundry.
The problem: if you inspect enough laundry, you’ll find dirty underwear. And Google has been doing the web’s laundry for a long time.
I honestly can’t see how they can monetize this data store (other than the existing targeted ads) without upsetting someone.