If it didn’t come directly from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt it would sound paranoid. But it does:

Google+ isn’t a social network; it’s a way of keeping tabs on you.

OK, so I made the words a little stronger than could be called a direct quote. But I’m not exaggerating Schmidt’s point, and he actually said the first part: Google+ isn’t a social network.

Schmidt said that last week, while trying to explain why Google+ requires you to use your real name on accounts. And I’ll tell you what: I’m OK with the idea of Google not wanting Google+ users to create “fake” accounts, and if they actually enforce their terms of service specifying that only real people using real names can have Google+ accounts I respect the position. Facebook doesn’t enforce their position on the matter, and it’s just one more thing about the king of social networking sites that bugs me.

It’s all about Google taking the position that they are all they or you need and they know what’s best for you, and that’s a little more disturbing. As is the arrogance behind taking that position.

OK, so they’re Google. If anyone can afford to be arrogant it’s The Big G. But when Google+ was unleashed on the word a couple of months ago there was no mention of the fact that Google considered it to be a tracking tool; their lip service was all about the social networking aspect of Google+. Now, Eric Schmidt tells us that Google+ is about identity.

Feels a little creepy, both because of what Schmidt’s words mean and because his willingness to confess Google’s real position is so full of hubris. “Sure, we’re tracking you. What are ya gonna do about it, huh?”

When I said that the best thing about Google+ was that Google was listening, this isn’t quite what I meant.

Again, and speaking as a dyed-in-the-wool pragmatist, I have no problem with Google satisfying their goals as they give us one great tool after another, more or less free. But it feels more and more like the old “Don’t Be Evil” Google has died, replaced by a Google that just does whatever it wants. And that feels like a bad example of business change.

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