When you perform a Web search on Google, you might not be expecting to find that email from Aunt Sally, but it could show up thanks to a new initiative by Google to make its search more useful to the normal user. Finding information (both public and private) in a hurry is a service that Google is betting will allow it to close the gaps between it and its lagging competition.
But how does something like this make you feel as a user? Obviously, Google has to read your email to build a database of keywords used to bring these messages up in Google search results. Do you really want a multinational corporation that already knows everything about you to essentially rub this in your face every time you search? Heaven forbid you share a computer with someone and private messages you never intended them to see appear when they aren’t even trying to rummage through your email.
We decided to take this question to our community in hopes of finding out exactly what average users felt about this situation.
Some folks appreciate the initiative and see it as a convenient tool that makes it easier to find information regardless of where it sits in your digital reach. If the answers to the questions you’re asking can be found in an email within your Gmail account, all the better that it’s discovered through this new feature.
Here are some of these responses:
Long Nguyen — Convenient.
Brian Johnson — Signed up for it and eager for them to give it to me!
Jason Dragoo — If it’s in your own search results, that’s cool. The impression some people have is that your email will show up in other people’s search.
Jayson — (It’s) pretty convenient and awesome. Thoughtful.
Travis Koger — Love the idea. Don’t have it just yet; waiting for activation.
John Hattan — I’m signed up. Sounds like a good feature. I already have stuff like news in the sidebar. I’d like to also have Gmail and Reader search over there. Mind you, Google already has its own search, so it’s a minor convenience.
As with any software or hardware initiative, there will be folks that don’t find it as useful or particularly necessary as others. While this feature is said to be strictly opt-in, one can only assume that eventually these terms may change as Google continues to expand and enhance its offerings.
Here are some of these responses:
Jamie Patrick — No good if you’re showing somebody something and private messages appear. Probably likely able to switch this off…
Jeff Bone — Few people take the time to read the Google EULAs. Thanks for pointing out yet another way that Google lives by the words “Don’t be evil.”
Jeffrey Hunt — Creepy. Let me pretend my data isn’t in some giant pile on a server somewhere.
Chris Harpner — Imagine doing a live webinar or a live presentation on a big screen and you forgot you’re logged in and do a Google search and any of the following shows up:
- Political email subscriptions (now, you’ve just announced to your potential customers, coworkers, and/or employer that you’re a Democrat, or Republican, or Socialist, or Communist, or whatever else….
- Financial email with your SSN# or other critically confidential numbers like your salary, etc.
- PW recovery email, showing your password, or a URL to reclaim an account.
- Love letters between you and your significant other.
- Love letters that reveal things you expected to stay secret forever.
- Private information about your clients or employees that was never meant to be seen by anyone but you and them.
- Embarrassing things you’ve said about your customers, employees, coworkers, employer, or loved ones.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of embarrassing and compromising information.
Where Do You Sit?
This is where you can jump in and give your take on where Google is heading with initiatives such as this one. Integrating email with Web search may be quite concerning for some, but the bigger issue could very well be the fact that most folks don’t realize Google really does have free reign to read and use your email for profit.
Image: Google Gmail Logo