Google+ Instant Upload: Intrusive user delight

Conspiracy theory: Google knows everything that I did online, ever. My favourite colour, my political opinions, the size of my underwear (I made that up. I’ve never purchased undergarments online). But I was shocked to know that Google knows what pictures I take with my phone camera!

One fine morning while logging into my gmail account, I saw a small number on a red square (G+ alert) asking for my attention and intervention. I clicked on it, thinking this must be someone adding me to their circle or some such fun thing, but I got a different message. I was told that my ‘pictures’ were ready to be ‘shared’ with my friends! I did not remember making any such requests, let alone have any idea about what pictures Google was talking about. To my horror, the pictures which were presented to me were the ones I took with my camera only the previous evening! A sunset. A close up of my wife’s smile, my daughter’s attempt at drawing Angry Birds, including a shot of the sky that I must have inadvertently taken! How did these pictures end up on G+?

Hastily I googled (!) for such occurrences and discovered that it was a niftily placed switch inside my google plus settings on the phone. I had, by default, given permission to G+ to upload all my pictures onto web! And this delightful thing was called Instant-Upload! I had to OPT OUT of it if I wanted to keep my pictures to myself! Although google places these pictures in a private album and the whole world does not immediately see it, it was no consolation post that mild heart-attack! When privacy issues are on top of everyone’s concerns list, the least G+ could have done is to let users opt in to this feature.