This article originally appeared on 60 Second Social and is part of the ‘Be Safe. Be Social’ series.

Nothing in life is free, nearly everything comes at a cost. At the Google I/O developer conference last week, Google announced a big revamp of its cloud based photo sharing and storage service. They removed it from the constraints of Google+ and made it into its own app and service.  

The big talking point though? Free unlimited cloud storage on the Google Photos service, something that no other service in the industry currently offers. There is also a paid version if you want to upload and store hi res content but for most people the free option will be ideal as it allows storage of 1080p video and photos up to 16mp.

So how free is Google Photos then? I mean we know that it won’t cost anything from your bank account, so what is the catch? Data. Google’s own marketing materials on the Google Photos service themselves remind us how photos are not just a collection of pixels. The offer of storing your photos for free is a big lure for many people and why would it not be? We love free stuff!

Out of the deal Google is gaining oodles and oodles of data, data which they can apply their mining algorithms to. Google’s algorithms see more than just the pixels and we know that because Google introduced a new consumer lure, a computer vision-powered image search which will let you search for photos using natural language and getting rid of the need to tag content in order to find it.

“Convenience cuts both ways,” said Christopher Budd, a global threat communications manager at Trend Micro when he spoke to marketwatch. “Things that make it convenient to share what I want in ways that I want also make it convenient to share in ways I don’t want.”

In the same way you can search in the new Google Photos app, Google can do the same thing too. The Google algorithms are also smart enough to geotag images based on what is in the photo. So if there are significant landmarks in shot and you have location information disabled in the app it is still possible for the algorithm to work out where you are.

Visual images on the internet is huge, people gravitate and notice visual images. Why do we recomend using Twitter cards? Or why do we recommend posting a tweet with a photo when you link to content you created? Because it stands out, it grabs attention and gets you noticed. Google realises this and are offering to give you free photo storage, in return you give them access to your camera roll.

Google had the following to say regarding privacy and data in the Google Photos app.

Your Google Photos account is just as private and secure as any other Googleservice.

We don’t share your information with others unless you explicitly choose to share it with them.

Google Photos will not use images or videos uploaded onto Google Photos commercially for any promotional purposes, unless we ask for the user’s explicit permission.

Lets be clear, Google is not some big monster looking to take all your data for malicious intent. However I think that given the amount and scale of privacy concerns we have these days online there is a need for transparency.

Google is not going to use your photos commercially without permission however what they do have the ability to collect is information such as where you go, what your read, what you eat ect. This data is information that could be sold onto advertisers or marketers.

Cloud storage is not a new thing however it is important to note that while Google may tout that the cost is free, your data is the price.


 

About The Author

Mark is the founder of 60 Second Social media where he provides social media news and digital marketing analysis. He has an Advanced Diploma in Psychology and a Diploma in Digital Marketing And Social Media. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow 60 Second Social on Twitter here. Or you can drop Mark an email at, [email protected]

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