Why is this a big deal? Well, our surfing habits, medical and other personal histories are fundamental features of our identities. When these are gathered and used by one company without our consent or control, it opens us up to rather large risks, including identity theft.
One of the main reasons I post to Facebook is I need a place where I can share information to only those I trust, such as my friends and family. Last year, I wrote at length about the need for a space where users can do this. I can set my privacy as strictly as I can in Facebook for this very reason. If I opened it up to the world, Google could take that information and expose it to search results. That’s precisely what I don’t want. I don’t want some criminal learning so much about me that he can steal my identity, or use the information to in some other way to commit crimes against me or my family.
In the WSJ article cited earlier, Google’s executives claim Google+ is not really competing with Facebook for the practice of sharing with friends and family. They claim the long-term strategy is to provide a way for those using Google Enterprise Servicessuch as Google Docs and Gmailto form hangouts and otherwise collaborate on the projects they manage in Enterprise applications.