Google+ could now have close to 50 million registered users, which makes it by far the company's most successful attempt at taking on social-network sites Facebook and Twitter. People who have not joined yet may be wondering what exactly Google Inc. plans on doing with the information users give it via the new platform.
Facebook famously infuriated thousands of its members with the launch of the Timeline function, where all of a user's Facebook activity is charted, not just recent updates. Privacy was cited most often as the reason for their fury. Now Google+ wants to spread people out in circles and then use that information to integrate it into everything else Google already does, Google vice president of products Bradley Horowitz told Wired Magazine last month.
Google will no doubt use people's Google+ info to improve search results, but it seems reasonable to think they will also use it to better target their advertising. Google is already way ahead when it comes to advertising because of the popularity of its search engine, but put its existing data together with all the added info from a social network, and it is no wonder other search companies and even the U.S. Justice Department are worried about how powerful Google could become.
Privacy has long been a subject of much discourse in the online world, but social network sites like Google+ are shaping the digital space in a whole new way, and Google seems to be in the best position to wield the mighty power of information like no other. It is becoming more powerful than any Web company out there, but with that power will come more scrutiny and that is also something that can't be predicted. How much interconnectedness in one place will people stand? Tell us in the comments if you think Google can avoid being evil.