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商业 - 科技

谷歌与Facebook之争:隐私政策定胜负

Kevin Kelleher 2011年07月14日

谷歌的社交媒体技术终于可与Facebook匹敌。但它真正别具一格的是其隐私政策。

    在网络行业,模仿远不仅仅是一种由衷的恭维,而是代表承认他人的成功,并努力赶上行业领袖,以期超越对方。

    在社交媒体领域, Facebook近几年来一直是各家公司模仿的领头羊。谷歌(Google)几度试图超越,但都功败垂成。不过,这个月情况发生了变化。Google+是一个强大的社交媒体平台,在很多方面可与Facebook媲美,有些方面甚至超越了后者,例如实时群组视频聊天。虽然Facebook迅速应对,也推出了视频聊天服务,但仍然无法匹敌谷歌。两者之间的这种“拉锯战”可能还将持续一段时间。

    十年前在搜索领域,谷歌和雅虎(Yahoo)也有过一场类似的激烈竞争。当然,谷歌最终胜出。但是所有的搜索引擎用户也获益匪浅,因为这种竞争使得搜索技术突飞猛进。网络用户也可能从Facebook与谷歌的竞争中受益,只不过原因有所不同:两者要想使自己的社交媒体服务与众不同,最好的方法是通过保护个人隐私。

    换句话说,如果Facebook与谷歌的竞争愈演愈烈,那么隐私问题在社交网络领域将会获得高度重视。因为其中一方所进行的任何技术创新很快就会被另一方抄袭。

    In the web industry, imitation is much more than a sincere form of flattery. It's an admission of another's success, and an effort to catch up to the industry leader in hopes of surpassing them.

    In social media, Facebook has been the leader everyone imitates for several years. Google (GOOG) tried a few times and came up short. But this month, that changed: Google+ is a formidable social media platform that matches Facebook in many ways and surpasses it in others, like realtime group video chat. Facebook quickly responded with its own video chat service, but couldn't match Google's. This back and forth is likely to continue for some time.

    A decade ago, Google and Yahoo (YHOO) entered into a similarly intense competition over search. Google eventually won, of course, but anyone using search engines since then has also benefited because that competition advanced search technology very quickly. Web users may benefit from a Facebook-Google rivalry, but for a different reason: The best way for these companies to differentiate their social media offerings is by preserving personal privacy.

    In other words, if things really heat up between Facebook and Google, privacy could become a real priority on social networks. Any technological innovation that one company produces can be copied quickly by the other.

图片来源:CrunchBase

    谷歌和Facebook一直在互相抄袭各自的发明创新。Facebook率先从简单的互联网网站转型成囊括了几千家网站的互联网平台;谷歌随后也开始计划在其核心业务之上建立一层“社交网络层”。谷歌率先暗示社交网络应该被分解成多个网络;随后Facebook也开始推介自己的“群组”功能。现在,Google+的Hangouts推出了视频聊天服务,而Facebook则引进了Skype提供的视频聊天。

    这种创新、模仿,再创新、再模仿的循环意味着任何公司都无法长时间保持技术上的优势。不过两家公司在用户隐私方面的差距可能会拉大。他们都在隐私方面都遇到过大麻烦。谷歌 Buzz的默认隐私设置曾遭致媒体大量恶评,导致Buzz不得不以失败收场,而它的其余隐私问题也引起了监管机构的注意。至于Facebook,其隐私政策在长期以来也遭到不少批评。

    不过谷歌和Facebook在处理个人隐私的方式有很大不同。马克•扎克伯格似乎很看好用户将会越来越乐意和他人以及广告商分享个人数据,后者对Facebook尤为重要。扎克伯格去年曾表示,“用户不但真的越来越乐意分享更多不同种类的信息,而且也更公开地与更多人分享这些信息。”这番论调随后引发了不少争议。Facebook大胆地重新设计了其网站,以便用户能够更为开放地分享信息。毫无疑问,与Twitter这类公司相比,此举为Facebook带来了更多广告收益。

    由于在隐私管理方面曾经遭遇一系列麻烦,谷歌的隐私策略相对保守。但这并不意味着谷歌堪称保护个人隐私的楷模。虽然谷歌仍希望通过用户分享数据以获得更个性化的搜索结果,但管理谷歌的隐私选项还是要比Facebook容易得多。对Google+的评测指出,该产品具备优秀的个人数据管理功能;分享个人数据的手段更为透明;提供了删除所有个人数据的选项。事实上,关于Google+发布,值得注意的一点是,隐私问题鲜有提及。虽然Google+仍爆出了不少缺陷,随后才得到修复,但与Buzz当时的惨败相比,这些缺陷无关痛痒。

    Google+面临的问题在于,测试版用户对该社交服务的好评能否渗透到到已经熟悉了Facebook的主流用户。假如对于很多人而言,更好的隐私保护真的是个重要因素,那么Google+可能很容易地就风靡开来,届时Facebook将不得不改进自身的隐私政策。

    然而,假如扎克伯格说得没错,大部分人对于在网上共享哪方面的个人信息已经毫不在意,那么Facebook可能将继续保持它在社交媒体领域的主导地位。

    译者:项航

    Google and Facebook have been copying each other's innovations for some time. First Facebook transforms from a simple web site to a web "platform" embracing thousands of other sites, then Google begins plotting a social "layer" over its core services. First Google hints that a social network should be broken up into multiple networks, then Facebook introduces this very feature with "Groups." And now that Google+ features Hangouts' video chat, Facebook has Skype-driven chat.

    This cycle of innovate-then-imitate means neither company can hold the technological edge for long. Where there is likely to be a bigger gap is in privacy. Both companies have had major privacy snafus. Google Buzz flopped after its privacy defaults garnered bad press, and other privacy issues have drawn regulators' scrutiny. Facebook has a long history of privacy concerns of its own.

    Yet there are important differences in the two companies' approaches to privacy. Mark Zuckerberg seems to be betting people will grow more comfortable sharing personal data with people and, more importantly, advertisers. "People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people," he said last year to some controversy. Facebook has unabashedly designed its site to entice people into sharing more openly. As a result, it's drawn much more ad revenue than, say, Twitter.

    Google's privacy mishaps has left it with a relatively conservative approach. That's not to say it's a model of privacy protection. The company still wants users to share data for more personalized search results, but it's much easier to manage Google's privacy options than Facebook's. Reviews of Google+ mention its superior ability to manage personal data, better transparency on how that data is shared and the option to delete all your data. In fact, one of the more notable things about the launch of Google+ is that privacy was barely mentioned. There were a few bugs spotted and fixed, but nothing on the scale of the Buzz fiasco.

    The question facing Google+ is whether the positive reception that beta users are having over the social service will cross over to a mainstream audience already familiar with Facebook. If better privacy is in fact a big factor for many people, then Google+ could easily become so popular enough that Facebook will be forced to improve its own privacy policies.

    But if Zuckerberg is right that most people have simply grown cavalier about what they share about themselves online, then it may maintain its role at the center of the social media industry.

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