Is Google Soft On Privacy?

There’s been quite a lot of news this week about Google and privacy so I thought I’d break out some of the links from tomorrow’s This Week In SEO post and devote tonight to a post about Google and privacy. I’ll toss in some of my own thoughts as a bonus.
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An Update On Paid Links

Over the weekend Matt Cutts updated his now infamous post on reporting paid links with a Q&A session. The update was designed to shed more light on what links to report as well as alleviate some of the concerns webmasters might have. While most of Matt’s answers do shed some light and alleviate fears I think the answer to the most important question was missing.
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Are You Drinking The Google Kool Aid?

Tamar linked to an interesting WebmasterWorld thread, Todays Webmaster & Their Relationship with Google, this week. The original poster makes some good points about how we’ve fallen under Google’s spell, spend too much of our energy focused on Google, think that Google’s guidelines are what define ethical seo, and give Google access to more data than we should. I agree, though not completely with most of the points and think they make for an interesting discussion.
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Privacy Concerns With Google

On Friday I mentioned that privacy advocates are becoming even more concerned with how much information Google knows and will know about us. Two recent events are causing the uproar. First is Google’s proposed acquisition of DoubleClick, which would come with a large amounts of user data the ad company has collected over the years. Second is the slightly more recent expansion of search history to web history within Google’s personalized search. Both will give Google more information about our surfing and searching habits than any company has ever had.
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Google vs. Paid Links

Over the weekend Matt Cutts published three posts that had sent the seo community into a frenzy by Monday morning. The main theme of the posts causing all the chaos was paid links. The first post Hidden links, mentions paid links almost in passing, but seems to tie them into the manipulative practice of hiding links. The second post simply agrees with and points to one by Matt Mullenweg On Sponsored Themes discussing the practice of paying to have your link included in a free blog theme. Both of these posts might have passed without much fanfare had it not been for the third post, How to report paid links.
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