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Edward Morbius



Edward Morbius

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Google secretly installs mic-enabling spyware / surveillance on all systems with Chrome or Chromium browsers

What the actual fuck?

Chromium, the open-source version of Google Chrome, had abused its position as trusted upstream to insert lines of source code that bypassed this audit-then-build process, and which downloaded and installed a black box of unverifiable executable code directly onto computers, essentially rendering them compromised. We don’t know and can’t know what this black box does. But we see reports that the microphone has been activated, and that Chromium considers audio capture permitted.

I've confirmed this is present and installed on my own Debian system and that my system mic (typically disabled / zeroed via software) was enabled. I may need to physically cut the circuit.

I also see a need to start firewalling off Google IP and network space.


I've been meaning to nuke Chrome for a while (fucking Stylebot's the monkey on my back). If I can eliminate all Google software from my Debian repos that's not too much.

Correcting one error in the article: Debian don't audit every line of code. There's too much, and the security team's too small. But Debian do have a policy and constitution, and key among the elements of that is that user rights come first.

Also: anyone with tips on physically disabling Thinkpad T520 mics, I'd appreciate the info.

+Yonatan Zunger +Andreas Schou +Lea Kissner +Larry Page +Sergey Brin +Eric Schmidt +Bradley Horowitz +Peter Kasting 

+Steve Faktor +Stephen Shankland +Dan Gillmor +Danny O'Brien +Danny Sullivan +Tess Vigeland 
Google Chrome listening in to your room shows the importance of privacy defense-in-depth. New column on Privacy News.

Yesterday, news broke that Google has been stealth downloading audio listeners onto every computer that runs Chrome, and transmits audio data back to Google. Effectively, this means that Google had taken itself the right to listen to every conversation in every room that runs Chrome somewhere, without any kind of consent from the people eavesdropped on. In official statements, Google shrugged off the practice with what amounts to “we can do that”.

It looked like just another bug report. "When I start Chromium, it downloads something." Followed by strange status information that notably included the lines "Microphone: Yes" and "Audio Capture Allowed: Yes".

Without consent, Google’s code had downloaded a black box of code that – according to itself – had turned on the microphone and was actively listening to your room.

This episode highlights the need for hard, not soft, switches to all devices – webcams, microphones – that can be used for surveillance. A software on/off switch for a webcam is no longer enough, a hard shield in front of the lens is required. A software on/off switch for a microphone is no longer enough, a physical switch that breaks its electrical connection is required. That’s how you defend against this in depth.

Early last decade, privacy activists practically yelled and screamed that the NSA’s taps of various points of the Internet and telecom networks had the technical potential for enormous abuse against privacy. Everybody dismissed those points as basically tinfoilhattery – until the Snowden files came out, and it was revealed that precisely everybody involved had abused their technical capability for invasion of privacy as far as was possible.

Perhaps it would be wise to not repeat that exact mistake. Nobody, and I really mean nobody, is to be trusted with a technical capability to listen to every room in the world, with listening profiles customizable at the identified-individual level, on the mere basis of “trust us”.
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+Edward Morbius Regarding (1), your reasoning seems faulty to me.  You argue that applications can't be trusted with the microphone and we need OS- or hardware-level controls.  Ignoring that you have OS-level controls in all OSes I'm aware of (Chrome can't record from a microphone you've muted), and that OS-level controls are just software and presumably no more trustworthy than controls in Chrome (where does the mistrust stop?), this means it doesn't matter whether Google ostensibly builds capabilities into Chrome that use the mic or they don't: they could, and because they can't be trusted, all applications should be equally suspect.

That means the comments about us "choosing to play in this space" miss your own point.  You're intentionally not relying on whether vendors claim to be choosing to play in the space or not.  You're saying you don't want to trust what people claim to do, and in that sense, Chrome is equally untrustworthy as everything else, regardless of this incident or of any feature we do or don't claim to build, no matter the opt-in state.

And as I noted, this is far from the only feature in Chrome capable of using the microphone, yet even among privacy advocates I don't see people having been up in arms for years about the other mic capabilities of the software (e.g. allowing websites to access your mic with your permission).  To me this suggests that very few people take the sort of full-paranoia stance that the software can't be trusted at all; if we build something and make it opt-in, that seems to be good enough in general.

So the swearing about us being "fucking adults", which implies not only that we're not acting like adults but that you're fed up with it, seems itself childishly petulant to me.

Regarding (2), we're not playing in the free software space.  We don't release Chrome as free software, and we don't release Chromium as a product at all.  Debian are playing in the free software space, and if they want to ship and support a product, they need to ship and support it -- and in this case, have done so, by managing the bug request in their system, communicating to us upstream what they need, etc.  So we're not trying to make free software advocates happy.  And it's not valid to claim this is a red herring.  The vast majority of angry feedback ON THIS SPECIFIC TOPIC has been about the closed nature of the source code, NOT about microphone access to begin with.  This may be a red herring to you personally, but your position is not representative even of everyone who is upset, so it's not valid for you to dismiss this concern as irrelevant.

Regarding (3), I think there's a false sense that, because we didn't happen to put the bits for this feature in the same .zip as our installer, there is some sort of reasonable expectation of user control.  If we ship 10 megs in the initial installer, 10 megs in software the installer downloads, and 10 megs in software that the software the installer downloads itself downloads, why is it suddenly the case that with one of those 10 meg chunks we need to ask and notify users?  This is a low-level, technical implementation detail of when the bits get downloaded.  It is not an optional, configurable part of the program, from the perspective of users.  And our fix for Debian didn't make it one: we made it possible to throw compile-time switches to pull out the feature, just as there are compile-time switches for h.264 decoding support.  Those switches don't mean we have a moral obligation to users to ask if they want h.264 support; that's up to the people packaging the product to decide.

For (4), none of your stated principles demand that the opt-in must come before downloading a piece of code, rather than before executing it.  You've simply decided that that's the standard.  And, again, the analogous functionality in the same product -- mic access for webpages in Chrome -- isn't causing mass hysteria even among privacy advocates.  So while you're welcome to any position you want, it isn't mandated under your own justifications and it isn't one that seems widely adhered to or compelling for me.  So, pardon me if I don't particularly mind that we don't live up to your standard and won't in the future, and neither does ANY OTHER MAJOR BROWSER currently.  (Life is hard when you're going to make demands that no one else makes.)  As for the specific four rules you propose, I don't see why you're putting text in bold and (again) swearing at me about items Chrome isn't even accused of doing, e.g. not remembering user choice.  I happen to agree with you that we should remember such user choices.  And, in fact, we do, so why the rant?

For (5), the distinction absolutely matters, in the same way that you don't get to bitch at OpenSSL maintainers if Microsoft includes SSL code in Windows that doesn't do something Microsoft's customers want.  That's Microsoft's issue.  OpenSSL isn't shipping or supporting Windows, and it's not their responsibility to do so.  Neither is it our responsibility to uphold Debian's principles in a product that Debian constructs and ships to their users.  We are happy to support their requests as upstream vendors of a piece of their software, and have done so in this case.  Claiming this distinction is immaterial is foolish and blatantly contradictory to reality, and it smacks of "I'll blame whoever I darn well wish to blame".

For (6-9), I don't see why you're concluding we haven't had precisely those discussions, and are extremely comfortable with the results.

So I stand by my initial statement.  We've considered this, we're taking what I think is a reasonable position, and while I can understand and respect your disagreement, I don't think that we are obligated to cater to your individual concerns, merely to listen to them and take them into account.  If after doing so we don't wind up where you'd like, well, you will need to decide how to respond to that.  If you decide you don't wish to use Chrome, by all means, please use an alternative that makes you more comfortable, based on whatever criteria you choose.  We released Chrome's source precisely to drive additional competition and improvement in the browser space, it would be poor of us to bemoan when other products succeed.

As I think we've covered the major points and anything further is likely to mostly be a retread, I am unlikely to respond further in this thread.  Hope it was helpful, even if you don't agree with where we stand.

Edward Morbius

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Dear Googles:  G+/YouTube Anschluss -- you've done outed me

I NEVER accepted using my G+ username on YouTube.

I've just checked YT, and my G+ username is how I'm now identified there.

I cannot log out of YouTube without logging out of G+.

I cannot change my YouTube username by any means visible to me.

I do NOT want this username associated with YouTube.

Hell.  I don't want any Google account name of mine associated with YouTube.

The fact that I had the good sense to stop using Google in any way under my given name is the only reason this doesn't actually tie a pseudonymous identity to a real one.  But there's no fucking way in hell it makes me trust you in the least from here on out.

I don't have any means of searching for and deleting my YouTube content that I can find.

I'm aware of two options:  purging my G+ account of all posts, or nuking the account.  Frankly, the latter sounds vastly preferable.

You lost me as a "real name" identified G+ user when you started cramming "Real Names" down everyone's throats.  You lost me as a Google Search user when it became clear just how much search and preferences data you were capturing.  I've stuck with G+ as a vaguely interesting, possibly promising service.  I've put more than a small amount of time into it, including fixing the bejesus out of the screwed up UI if only for my own use.  But it's a big Web and there's a bunch of other places to go.

I'm running a data takeout now.  I'll decide what I'm doing with the service later. and are in my hosts file as committing after this post.

My video viewing is not a fucking social activity.  Nor are my ratings or comments.

+Shimrit Ben-Yair (thanks for lending an ear, hang in there).
+Google+ Help 
+Vic Gundotra 
30 comments on original post
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+T. Pascal I play a long con.

Edward Morbius

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"All violence is an attempt to replace shame with self-esteem."

- James Gilligan

Not convinced. But worth consideration.

Via Jon Ronson, author, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.
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The folks around here are afraid of everything outside of their tiny circle and ashamed of nothing. They have no status, honor, or privilege. They wear stupidity, ignorance, drug addiction, dysfunction, you name it, as a badge of honor. That's what we're working with nowadays.

Edward Morbius

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Amartya Sen has argued that no famine from the last 1,000 years can be attributed to natural causes.

Unattributed claim in /r/AskHistorians. Public bookmarking, though intelligent contributions welcomed.
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Edward Morbius

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Smoking Gun: MPAA Emails Reveal Plan To Run Anti-Google Smear Campaign Via Today Show And WSJ

From the subpoenaed emails:

Media: We want to make sure that the media is at the NAAG meeting. We propose working with MPAA (Vans), Comcast, and NewsCorp (Bill Guidera) to see about working with a PR firm to create an attack on Google (and others who are resisting AG efforts to address online piracy). This PR firm can be funded through a nonprofit dedicated to IP issues. The "live buys" should be available for the media to see, followed by a segment the next day on the Today Show (David green can help with this). After the Today Show segment, you want to have a large investor of Google (George can help us determine that) come forward and say that Google needs to change its behavior/demand reform. Next, you want NewsCorp to develop and place an editorial in the WSJ emphasizing that Google's stock will lose value in the face of a sustained attack by AGs and noting some of the possible causes of action we have developed.

Note that little bit about the Wall Street Paid Political Attack Journal:

Notice that with the WSJ piece, they flat out admit that the editorial will be based on the ideas that "we" have developed. If you work for the WSJ, your editorial independence just got shot down.

Also the use of "nonprofits" to carry political water (I'd love to know who's in the MPAA's Rolodex there).

The Bill Guidera named appears to be this guy:

Former Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.

Mr. Bill Guidera served as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs of News Corp. since January 2011. Mr. Guidera had been with News Corporation since 2007, leading its state public policy initiatives relating to its film, Internet, print and television businesses. He worked particularly closely on Internet safety issues, where he is a national policy leader. He served as an attorney and policy counsel with Microsoft Corporation, where he drove state, federal and international policy development on safety and security.

Also active in Minnesota politics:

HN discussion:
Reddit (among many):
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+Aaron Gilliland Well, Google apparently wanted to share.

Edward Morbius

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Craptacular phone experience == business opportunity

Phone Janitor lets you create filter rules for your phone number. What this means is you never need to get a phone call you don't allow. Get a Phone Janitor number or port your current one over, and when someone calls, you decide what happens to that call based on who is calling and what time it is.

We're serious about you being in charge, and we can prove it. Our CEO's number is 801-618-0059, and you can call it any time. If you're not on his list of approved numbers at the time, it will tell you he doesn't want to talk. If you want to leave a voicemail, that's permitted for an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 PM US/Pacific time. You can feel safe giving out your number to businesses, contests, even random individuals, and never be harassed or inconvenienced if you don't allow it. Change rules at any moment from any browser. Route calls from a specific person or group to your cell, and others to someone else, or to voicemail, or just drop them completely.

I'm not sure this is the specific implementation I want, but it's precisely where the present situation with unlimited access to my phone has driven me.

Via HN:
Phone Janitor lets you create filter rules for your phone number. What this means is you never need to get a phone call you don't allow. Get a Phone Janitor number or port your current one over, and when someone calls, you decide what happens to that call based on who is calling and what time it ...
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+paul wallich Got it. Competitive market / open source might help.

Edward Morbius

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That "Horizon-1 High Tech Experimental Community" video making the rounds is a hoax

Let's just nip this fucker in the bud.

It claims:

Location: "Undisclosed location in Western Europe"
Established: 2006
Population: 2,000

None of the funding organisations (2,000 people, 9 years) have a Web footprint outside the NH-1 page: Horizon Global Project Consortium, The European Centre for Social Advancement, International Institute for Sustainable Cultures.

Nine years' funding for 2,000 people plus labs would likely exceed $1 billion. Yet ... there's not a trace of the sponsors. And ... so many generous anonymous donors.

Named individuals similarly fail to check out.

"Carsten Brunner", "Ginette Beaumont", "Judith Shaw", "Carolina Fierro", "Neela Gadhavi" have no applicable web footprint, despite apparently high technical skills and expertise.

There is a research citation for the last, but in human medicine and cistic fibrosis, not ag tech:

And the smoking gun: The robot shown is actually from an MIT lab:


(Though Sophia's adorbs.)

Update: The "Laboratories" exterior is University of Technology Sydney. h/t +James Lamb

That said, if anyone can ID the actual sources of the attached images, that'd be peachy.
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Edward Morbius

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Gideon on Google, Adverts, Retail, and Interest

Some good thoughts here. My responses:

1. Pinterest's principle failing for now is that, as a non-registered user, every time I land on a Pinterest page I get nagged. Next time ... Ohfuckit. I've just /etc/hosts blocked them.

Recognizing that the vast majority of visitors to your site aren't registered, and that annoying them is likely to be counterproductive, seems to be a lesson badly in need of learning.

Google seem to be catching a slight case of clue:

"Google+: A case study on App Download Interstitials"

As for "The management here is smart enough to recognize the culture differences between G+ and Pinterest", that strikes me as highly generous. Though perhaps some slight progress is being made.

2. Agree strongly with the Google-Amazon battle. My view is that online advertising is increasingly a losing game, quite possibly with only a few years to run, if that. It's inherently anti-user interests (as is advertising generally), and the users are getting increasingly pissed. Google's lack of another comparable income stream, vulnerability to ad blockers, and the increasing trend toward "Reader Mode" browser features (Safari, now Firefox), but Chrome's intransigence in supporting this natively, is a huge problem.

I'm seeing an increasing drumbeat of articles at Hacker News and elsewhere over the increasing dissatisfaction with the online experience: slowly-loading, bloated pages, data disclosures, poor designs (nonzoomable, brittle layouts, poor contrast, bad font choices). I apply a set of fixes myself, but it's a constant battle. Frankly I'd prefer a reading-oriented browser with far less design flexibility.

Given this, Amazon's reliance on actually selling stuff for revenue seems like the right place to be. Google's got some interesting fingers in this pie, but nothing fully developed. I've been watching with interest for some years. Facebook seems the likely big loser.

4. I also see the Interest Graph (intersecting with the Author graph) as a likely way forward. It's what I've been advocating for on Ello, and seem to have some traction there. Google's initial steps on Collections have been largely disappointing, though I find the concept useful in principle.

That site is developing in interesting ways -- a very rich authoring + content environment, with extensive formatting (bold + italic, numbered and bulleted lists, headers, tables, and embeddable graphics, video, audio, and other elements). Still very much under development, but shaping up nicely.

Google heading the Pinterest / Cards route would be disappointing.

Developing more along interests, slimming down the UI, improving search, greatly enhancing filtering, improving post formatting and content capabilities, those could be useful.
Pinterest as Google+'s New Target

If it's not abundantly clear already, Pinterest is emerging a much more clear competitive frame for understanding the future of Google+. It's an over-simplification, as there are significant difference, but it's still a useful one. 

A Newly Emerging Google Plus Strategy
The catalyst for this post were some thoughts from Bradley Horowitz just a couple hours ago: 

"Relieved of the notion of integrating with every other product at Google, Google+ can now focus on doing what it’s already doing quite well: helping millions of users around the world connect around the interest they love. Aspects of the product that don’t serve this agenda have been, or will be, retired. But you’ll also see a slew of improvements that make this use case shine."

Connecting people around "interests they love" is another way of saying connecting people through an "interest graph." The battle for the social graph is pretty much over, and Facebook clearly won. Google's new strategy is a clear acknowledgement of this and an indication that it sees the battle for the interest graph as: a) important and b) far from decided. 
So, why is the interest graph so important, you ask? 

Supporting the Knowledge Graph 
Google is making a huge bet on its Knowledge Graph, as a central strategy for maintaining the technological superiority of its search engine. In fact, you could say that this service is actually in the midst of transforming from a search engine to a knowledge engine. Google Now is the visible end of this wedge, a wedge which will soon emerge as a Virtual Personal Assistant, and eventually as a much more powerful artificial intelligence agent. 

Understanding which people care about and have influence on particular topics will be one of the very valuable products of deepening Google+ investments in the interest graph. That, in turn, will strengthen the company's ability to execute on its Knowledge Graph strategy. 

The Bigger Battle with Amazon
In the big picture, the real competitive battle that Google faces as a company - is with Amazon. People were recently asked their top three places for researching gift purchases in the holiday season. “Online search” registered 45%, down from 49% a year ago. Meantime, the channel growing the most in popularity was the one that includes Amazon, jumping to 37% from 31%. 

The Google-Amazon battle is actually a battle of business models, with Google running an advertising strategy and Amazon a commerce strategy. Sure, there are exceptions, and the lines can get very blurry with things like "buy now" button ads, but by and large, that is how the competition is falling out. When you think about it, the searches that Amazon is increasingly winning from Google are searches that are most closely tied to actual sales. They are, in other words, some of the most lucrative advertising that Google has. 

Going back to the interest graph, perhaps more than any other company in the world, Amazon has a very detailed and extremely valuable mapping of the products and services you care about. It has, in short, a very lucrative interest graph, deeply embedded into its commerce business model. 

As noted above, monetization isn't the only reason that Google is building its interest graph. That said, it will be monetizing its interest graph, and it will be doing that through an advertising strategy - not primarily a commerce strategy like Amazon's. 

The Pinterest Opportunity
Pinterest was founded in 2010, one of many startups launched around that timeframe based on the premise of the interest graph. The rest have long-since failed, but Pinterest is now valued at $11 billion and its revenue generating potential is just starting to build steam. 

Pinterest's monetization efforts around things like "buy now" buttons are generating lots of intrigue, but I believe the company represents something more than that. They are a kind of fusion between online advertising and a retail environment. Pinterest's CEO Ben Silbermann likes to differentiate Pinterest from Google by noting that the service is about "discovery," not "search." People like to browse collections in Pinterest, to become inspired, to have their interests piqued, to discover stuff through seeming serendipity that they weren't specifically seeking in the first place. In other words, there's a kind of grazing, browsing behavior on Pinterest that does sort of feel like a retail store. 

In other words, Pinterest, with its strength in discovery, falls someplace in between the Amazon and Google commerce and advertising strategies. Just as importantly, behind the scenes, Pinterest is building an interest graph, tied to commercially valuable topics. And unlike Amazon, they're not integrating this interest graph with the core competencies of warehousing, returns, fulfillment and other aspects of a commerce company. In short, they're building the kind of interest graph that's of interest to an advertising giant; an interest graph chock-full with all kinds of insights into what end users care most about. 

Like Google. 

The Differences
Just to be clear: I'm not saying that Google+ will or should suddenly start looking and behaving like Pinterest. Despite the new Collections feature, Google+ is a very different beast. I would be very surprised if we woke up one day to find "buy it now" buttons showing up on Google+. And I don't even think that we'll be seeing many collections of "my favorite lipsticks" or "my favorite dresses" - the kinds of collections that are very common and natural on Pinterest. 

That just isn't the culture here on Google+. No, I don't see Google attempting to replicate the kind of "retail" environment strategy that Pinterest seems to be headed towards. The management here is smart enough to recognize the culture differences between G+ and Pinterest. Although now that Google+ is freed from its broader corporate mandates, which I think helped it take a pass on revenue-generating expectations, I will go on record here saying that I would not be at all surprised to find Google reversing its policy of 'no ads' here on Google+ - possibly within the next year or two.

What I do see quite clearly is Google moving down a path where Google+ becomes a more powerful addition to its interest graph building capacity. Search is already a very powerful tool for tracking end user interests over time. What it's missing is the ability to note interest in a more passive browsing mode. This is the discovery mode that Pinterest makes so much of, and it maps nicely to the streams, photos and sharing that now describes the team that will be remaking Google+. 

Bradley Horowitz post on Google+ changes:

Pinterest CEO and co-founder Ben Silbermann, talking about Pinterest's strategy and the central importance of the interest graph:

The Interest Graph Maps Our Connections to Ideas and Things

Google’s  Biggest Competitor…is Amazon

What is Google+ (Really)?

#sharedinterestgraph   #pinterest   #amazon   #googleplus  
35 comments on original post
Gideon Rosenblatt's profile photoEdward Morbius's profile photoWilliam Rutiser's profile photoScott Montague's profile photo
+Gideon Rosenblatt (Gideon and I are sharing this discussion across posts, though I think I'll leave this as my final response)

some of the pressure Google is facing and it's part of the Trusted Store and all that stuff, along with the delivery experiments.


Also: Amazon can iron out the bad experiences but often doesn't.

Another angle: if Amazon goes to a dedicated commerce application, it bypasses the browser entirely. This is already the Mobile experience. Apple as well (iTunes).

owning all the merchandise is harder to scale

But Amazon doesn't. They own the marketplace. Increasingly through affiliates. Which is more scalable. As you point out.

Worth mentioning as well: Ello seem to have something up their sleeve for monetization though it's not clear just what. But it's not ads.

Good stuff.

Edward Morbius

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Google retreats(?): #Anschluss  is over

It's not clear to me if this is a division of G+ from what it had been, or a rebranding of what had been "Google+" to "Google", particularly as a unified platform. I'm cautiously optimistic.

I'm inclined to close comments here, but will leave them open. Comments aimed for Google / Bradley really should go to his post though.

At HN:
At reddit:

Actually, surprisingly little discussion on this elsewhere. Nobody cares?
Everything in Its Right Place

It’s been a little more than a quarter since I took on leadership of a newly formed team, which we’ve christened SPS: Streams, Photos, and Sharing.

In that short time, I’ve had some time to reflect on the products we’ve built over the last few years, and also the opportunity to oversee the launch of our new Google Photos product. I’ve concluded that it’s time for a “pivot”... or more precisely time to talk more openly about a pivot that’s been underway for some time (and in fact is reflected in the name of the new team). We're going to continue focusing Google+ on helping users connect around the interest they love, and retire it as the mechanism by which people share and engage within other Google products.

Four years ago when we conceived of the “Google+ Project”, we made it clear that our goals were always two-fold: Google+ aspired to be both a “platform layer that unified Google’s sharing models”, and a product / stream / app in its own right.

This was a well-intentioned goal, but as realized it led to some product experiences that users sometimes found confusing. For instance, and perhaps most controversially, integration with YouTube implied that leaving a comment on YouTube (something users had obviously been doing successfully for years) suddenly and unexpectedly required “joining Google+.”

We decided it’s time to fix this, not only in YouTube, but across a user’s entire experience at Google. We want to formally retire the notion that a Google+ membership is required for anything at Google… other than using Google+ itself.  

Some of the consequences of this shift in thinking have already been deployed. Others we’re rolling out as fast as possible (e.g. the changes to YouTube we referenced today). And many more will roll out over the rest of the year.

What does this mean for Google+ the product? Relieved of the notion of integrating with every other product at Google, Google+ can now focus on doing what it’s already doing quite well: helping millions of users around the world connect around the interest they love. Aspects of the product that don’t serve this agenda have been, or will be, retired. But you’ll also see a slew of improvements that make this use case shine (like the recent launch of Collections -

It’s been incredibly gratifying to see how this strategy has played out as realized in the recent Google Photos launch, a product which in many ways embodies and telegraphs the changes discussed above. Google Photos not only doesn’t require a Google+ account, but as much of the functionality as possible doesn’t even require an account at all. It was important to me that when we launched Google Photos, we stressed the product implements sharing by any means a user prefers… without compromise or agenda. This is the right thing for users and the feedback and usage has been extremely validating.

I’m excited to share this strategy with the world, excited about what it means for Google+, and most of all for all of Google’s users.
165 comments on original post
Adam Black's profile photoJulian Bond's profile photoT. Pascal's profile photoEdward Morbius's profile photo
+T. Pascal Yeah, that thought's occurred to me as well. Cooking up something that addresses that point, among others.

Edward Morbius

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Chrome Engineer's[1] response to issues feedback


Edward, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be responding to you further.

This doubtless convinces you of the accuracy of your frustrations about "unresponsive and uncaring entities", but the truth is that:

(1) I'm an engineer, not a CSR, and not a PR person.  I don't owe you anything.  It's not my job to be helpful; rather, if I help, it's because I'm willing to do so on my own time.  I'm often happy to do so, but I don't take well to being taken for granted by random people I've never met and know nothing about.

(2) I haven't ever worked on any of the issues you've bugged me about.  Chrome is a huge umbrella with thousands of people.  So it's not usually trivial for me to try and find out the right way to deal with particular concerns.  We have public help forums precisely for sharing concerns.  Those are the right things to use.  Not contacting me.

(3) You have a tendency to make interaction unpleasant by a combination of long-windedness (something I'm guilty of too), condescension, and some sort of anger/entitlement thing going on that means that by the time you ping me about something, you're already pissed off.  I'm sorry, but I wasn't the one to piss you off, I wasn't involved in your past interactions, and I don't deserve to bear the brunt of your frustration.

My last, admittedly snarky message was a warning sign that I was at my limit.  You responded with what I took to be condescension and a lecture.  That's your prerogative, but it's not a form of interaction that I want to spend my time dealing with.

I hope you're able to find a way of getting the behaviors you want.  But that way is going to have to involve someone other than me.



1. Who shall remain nameless here. In both post an comments.
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They may not be perfect but searching and posting in seems to get the work done most of the time.

Asking questions in a public place instead of privately has a massive number of benefits: incitation to research before asking, more people looking at the question, lets non-experts help each other and offload experts, forces the poster to ask a better question because of the increased exposure, discussion automatically archived and published for the future, etc.  

Edward Morbius

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"I refrained from judgement, not on the grounds of superior discernment but rather because early reports on almost any topic of feverish interest are inevitably bullshit."

--+Robert Rambusch
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+Brett Legree Not so much that as to commit to a truth others do believe but is in fact false and based on either missing information or worse: misinformation.

Edward Morbius

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A declaration of the causes which impel the State of Texas to secede from the Federal Union

Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated States to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility [sic] and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery--the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits--a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?

February 2, 1861

Yeah. "States' rights". Sure.
DECLARATION OF CAUSES: February 2, 1861 A declaration of the causes which impel the State of Texas to secede from the Federal Union. Related Links Narrative history of Secession and Readmission | Narrative history of Annexation
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Exactly +Edward Morbius. The laws concerning slaves were simply appalling on every level +paul beard. In fact, legal code and human decency are often completely out of sink with one and other; even to this day.

To use the vernacular; history sucks, and in posting your response you are simply preaching to choir.
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Technological Archaeologist
I'm strongly reconsidering participation in G+ following the YouTube Anschluss, November 2013.  Content subject to deletion at any time.

Comments privileges on my posts are limited.  Email me if you cannot comment and would like to be added.

Google have time and again violated several key principles:

Respect.  Of my time, my attention, my expressly stated desires, and most of all, my intelligence by repeating these and other insults time and again.

Trust. I will share very limited slices of me online.  Time and again Google reached for more, and time and again I had to push back.  This last violation (which, had I not already gone fully pseudonymous would have fully outed me as it did others) was one step too far.  I extend trust once, not twice.

Privacy.  This is the immediate concern here, and I've tried to create a walled space within which I can act.  I no longer feel safe to act there.

This incident again has made painfully clear that Google don't understand the fundamental nature of privacy, of social norms, and of spaces.  Of the desire for individuals to keep different aspects of their life and online activity, even within a single pseudonymous identity, separate.  Yes, there are some smart people at the Plex, but socially, you're collectively beyond retarded.  And I no longer care.

I'm actively looking for alternative platforms to use.  
For the time being I'm retaining the Gmail account associated with this ID ( though I'll be migrating that as well (and am accepting recommendations).  Correspondents are strongly encouraged to use my GPG key:  C210 9883 FFB4 3AC1 DEBF  9A2C AC6F 1E84 420A B7BD

I may be found:

As "dredmoribus" on Reddit:  

Primary content and engagement on "the dreddit", a/k/a Dr. Edward Morbius's lair of the Id.

On the subreddit   My primary publishing point for now.

Blogging on DreamWidth: (presently inactive)

All of which is subject to change, of course (though Reddit's likely to be a good contact).

RSS/Atom feeds for the above are:
Feel free to drop those in your newsreader of choice.  It's a bit clunky, but notably less so than G+ itself is.

I do plan on leaving a tombstone account on G+ with forwarding information and last details, though I'll be removing most or all of my content eventually.

G+ was to an extent an experiment to see if I could participate on terms I was comfortable with in a large commercial social networking space.  The answer to that question has been found, and it is "no".

░░░░░███████ ]▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄              Bob is building an army
   ▂▄▅█████████▅▄▃▂             ☻/  against Google Plus
Il███████████████████].      /▌    Copy and Paste this all over 
  ◥⊙▲⊙▲⊙▲⊙▲⊙▲⊙▲⊙◤..     / \    Youtube if you are with us!


I don't do IM / Google Chat / Hangouts.
They're horribly intrusive and annoying.

I've blocked them in the G+ UI.  I don't check them. 
I've disabled all access / invite privileges.  
I'm not ignoring you, I simply don't see you.

If you want to reach me directly, either send a private G+ post, or email me (
I may respond to one or the other of those.

I thought I had a comments moderation policy here.  Apparently I don't.  Apologies for the oversight.

 See my /r/dredmorbius subreddit policy for the general parameters.

In particular, if you're requested to provide references, or context for naked links (particularly multimedia Audio / Video), do so.

I don't mind opposing viewpoints.  Viewpoints must be substantiated on request.  Failure to substantiate, or engaging in disruptive tactics, is grounds for deletion and/or banning.

The arbitration policy for moderation disputes is:  Moderation battles are short and boring: the moderator wins.


"If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged."  
 - Cardinal Richelieu (a/k/a  Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu et de Fronsac)

E pluribus unum


You can #Quack that:

Nature abhors a maximum.
 - William Ophuls

"Pseudonyms and anonymity are also an established part of many cultures -- for  good reason."
  - Alma Whitten, former Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering, Google

I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use.

Somewhere, there are two kids in a garage building a company whose motto will be "Don't be Google".
Bragging rights
I don't exist. I'm not here.
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