Google 101: Google Details Its New Good to Know Campaign

Just after the market closed in the U.S. today, Google released more details on its Good to Know site and campaign, which it says will help the majority of non-techie Google users figure out how to stay safe and secure online. Is it a pre-emptive move against privacy watch dogs?

Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Google just minutes ago expanded on the Good to Know campaign it announced yesterday. And sure, it would be good to know exactly what goes on with your data when Google sucks it out of search and integrates it with data it’s got on you from Gmail, Googledocs, Youtube, Google+ so it can charge the highest possible rate for advertising.

Business is business, I get that. But read this. It’s the update Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy, product and engineering, posted on the official Google blog just minutes after the bell rang on Wall Street.

Good to Know is a campaign and website Google designed, execs say, to educate consumers as to the basic tech skills they’ll need to be safe and secure online.

Google doesn’t say it straight out, but the emphasis here clearly is privacy or the appearance of it. It has to be. Privacy concerns bring Google and Facebook a lot of trouble US, EU and other nations and it will only get worse as Google continues to integrate search and aggregation with data from its Google+ social network.

Something about this feels preemptive to me, but we’ll see.

I doubt many of our readers will need Google education, but maybe you might email this piece to a computer-handicapped friend and colleague. They’ll likely ditch it, but you’ll be doing like the Google motto says: No evil.

So what do you think?

Is it a CYA move — or is it something Google and all big data aggregation companies should have been doing all along? Or does it matter. The phrase Good to Know reminds me a lot of former US First Lady Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No solution for alcohol and drug addicts.

If computer users don’t want to learn more about their computers and haven’t yet, will throwing a lot of money at them help? I’m doubtful, but I could be jaded. Humor me here though. If that isn’t the point, what is? Reporting news commentary from the department of the obvious department at aNewDomain, I’m Gina Smith.

Here’s Whitten’s post in full:

I mean, have you ever tried to delete your Facebook account. You practically need a manual, its wormed into your system so well.

As we digest this, thought I’d post this right away so we can do some analysis. Here’s the complete text of Whitten’s post at the Official Google Blog. With all the focus on privacy and on the melding of Google+ and search results in particular, this sure is well timed. And notice the announcement came just a few minutes after the markets closed.

Read Whitten’s Google Blog post in full below.

Does this person sound familiar? He can’t be bothered to type a password into his phone every time he wants to play a game of Angry Birds. When he does need a password, maybe for his email or bank website, he chooses one that’s easy to remember like his sister’s name–and he uses the same one for each website he visits. For him, cookies come from the bakery, IP addresses are the locations of Intellectual Property and a correct Google search result is basically magic.

Most of us know someone like this. Technology can be confusing, and the industry often fails to explain clearly enough why digital literacy matters. So today in the U.S. we’re kicking off Good to Know, our biggest-ever consumer education campaign focused on making the web a safer, more comfortable place. Our ad campaign, which we introduced in the U.K. and Germany last fall, offers privacy and security tips: Use 2-step verification! Remember to lock your computer when you step away! Make sure your connection to a website is secure! It also explains some of the building blocks of the web like cookies and IP addresses. Keep an eye out for the ads in newspapers and magazines, online and in New York and Washington, D.C. subway stations.

The campaign and Good to Know website build on our commitment to keeping people safe online. We’ve created resources like privacy videos, the Google Security Center, the Family Safety Center and Teach Parents Tech to help you develop strong privacy and security habits. We design for privacy, building tools like Google Dashboard, Me on the Web, the Ads Preferences Manager and Google+ Circles–with more on the way.

We encourage you to take a few minutes to check out the Good to Know site, watch some of the videos, and be on the lookout for ads in your favorite newspaper or website. We hope you’ll learn something new about how to protect yourself online–tips that are always good to know!

As for me, it would be good to know what you think about this. I know there is zero chance of explaining to my sister what a secure password is, and most people I know outside of Silicon Valley and the tech communities internationally aren’t even on Google+ yet.