YouTube's New "Find Your Friends" Feature a Little Too Friendly

Last Updated Oct 23, 2009 1:06 PM EDT

I know YouTube is a social media site where I can subscribe to the channels of my friends, but lately it's been getting a bit too friendly. At some point recently, though I've had trouble finding out exactly when, the site introduced a new "Find a friend" feature. To help me find friends, it's been cross-referencing my Gmail contacts with those Gmail contacts of mine that have channels I could potentially subscribe to on YouTube. Instead of feeling all warm and fuzzy about Google helping me find my friends, I'm creeped out. When did I agree to this?

I suppose somehow, at some point, I sort of agreed to this by clicking, or not clicking, on some box in a settings page, but that doesn't make it right. I never asked Gmail to start finding my YouTube friends. In these instances, Google, or any other social network provider with multiple databases at their fingertips, should check first with users to see if this kind of friend-finding interests them, and, if not, lay off. I became a Gmail user in July 2005; Google announced it would buy YouTube in October 2006. In other words, at the time I set my Gmail account, the possibility that it would one day be cross-referenced with contacts of mine with YouTube channels didn't exist. I can't figure out what's going on here, but it's nothing good.

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