How Do You Feel About Gmail Messages Appearing in Your Search Results?

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.

Approve

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.

Critical Responses

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

13 comments On How Do You Feel About Gmail Messages Appearing in Your Search Results?

  • Can’t understand why people don’t jump ship on Google! If I want to search my emails, I will log into my email-account and search there. I would rather stick with that. Haven’t you all experienced that situation when a friend wants to show you something but cannot remember the web page anymore? And then usually you google for it with the friend right next to you…

    Now either you google anyway, not knowing if by some chance google will show up personal and sensitive data of yours while your friend, boss, or family member can watch… or

    …you turn off that feature while they are standing next to you. But even in that case you make yourself suspicious with no reason.

    Seriously… everyone has let a friend google something real quick on their laptop, desktop, tablet, etc.

    Google might as well drop the whole password verification alltogether and make all email accounts pubilc! Seriously, because signing out after reading my mails means practically= I am still signed in! And if I forget… I might accidentally share data that was never intended to. In my world that is a leak.

  • It probably wont effect me any because I don’t use gmail. I wouldn’t want to see my emails in search results because all I desire is a basic search engine with caching ability. Anything more is like bloatware AFIAK.

  • What? So that private message I sent to my girlfriend with our financial information on could so up on a Google search for the whole world to see? No thanks. If there is no option to turn this feature off, I will be switching to someone else.

  • Is this just another way to convince us non-geeks that all is well with the Eworld? No thanks and I for one would appreciate it if Google would rest satisfied with its present ad horde and notify me and the rest of my fellow users when they’re in the midst of trying to create so-called improvements that involve me and my information. What does Chris say about it?

  • As long as it’s a option and not forced then I really don’t care.

  • This is idiotic in IMO. I have a place for my email, it’s called Outlook (Gmail included in it). How come some idiot always thinks he’s doing a great thing by creating crap like this? Also, besides the embarrassing factor listed above by everyone, what if you’re an email hoarder with 30,000 emails? Does this mean every search takes 20 minutes until it parses all that data?

    I smell a Gmail cancellation in the future. It’s nothing more than my garbage address I use for all the spam anyway.

  • Time to face reality: there is no such thing as privacy in this digital age. Orwell was certainly prescient.

  • I don’t Google anything; I won’t even use Chrome because of it’s Google roots. Google’s become big brother’s enabler and it sickens me to no end. For general searches, I use Yahoo; for secure searches I use IXQuick (https://www.ixquick.com/) which even offers you the option to proxie your clicks. I know Chrome is suppose to be open source and I’m a huge fan of open source, but there’s just something about Google that really creeps me out. My gut meter pings everytime I do have to use Google (many sites that I frequent using an embedded Google search tool for that site). I have other reasons to dislike Google too but will leave those comments out of this discussion. 🙂

  • I don’t Google anything. Won’t even use Chrome because of it’s Google roots. It even creeps me out when I have no choice but to use Google at sites that use an embedded Google search tool. For general searches, I use Yahoo; for secure searches I use IXQuick. 🙂

  • My private E-Mails are exactly that – PRIVATE! I will thank Google and all other companies to keep out of that which is none of their business!

  • This is a great idea! I use a similar extension in Chrome that searches my Evernote notes and I love it! The thing to understand here is that the searches will be displayed only to the user when they are signed in and not to the entire world.

  • I’m horrified. I will be so careful what i put in email now. I’ll just phone the person if I have anything personal to say.

  • “When you sign into google anything you are signed into google everything!”

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