Google– (Updated)

I just deleted my Google+ profile. They asked me why, and I told them:

You’ve successfully deleted Google+ and associated social content

We’re sorry to see you leave! Please help us improve by telling us why you are leaving and what we can do better. This survey is optional but your feedback is much appreciated. Please tell us why you’re leaving:

Here’s what I said:

By disallowing pseudonyms, you’ve effectively cut me off from far too many of my friends. I have the luxury of using my real name for my communications, but that’s exactly what it is: a luxury.

I’m a white, middle class male, with socially-acceptable addictions and middle-of-the-road kinks. I live in a tolerant, cosmopolitan city and I wear collared shirts and khakis. And a few of my friends have none of that.

In some cases, their online identities are, in any respect that matters, their real names; the text on the driver’s license is just a minor formality. In some cases, associating their online identities with their real names would only get them hurt or ostracised. In some cases, admittedly rare ones, associating their online identities with their real names, and hence their real addresses, means that there’s a real possibility that somebody else will figure out who, what or where they are, come to their home and beat them up or kill them.

It’s a slim possibility, sure. But it’s real, and these are my friends; I can’t be a part of a system like Google+ that doesn’t let people manage that risk as they see fit.

Don’t be evil, guys, and don’t pretend it’s OK to impose these conditions on people struggling to manage risks you can barely imagine living with, every single day and night forever. You’re Google, and you’re supposed to be better than that.

A little dramatic? Maybe, maybe. But just staggeringly tone-deaf on Google’s part. It wasn’t long ago that Google did the right thing, and fast, when it came to comparable problems with Buzz. I really don’t understand why they’re digging their heels in with Google+, but I’m perfectly happy not to care, and walking away.

UPDATE: Google employee Bradley Horowitz notes:

MYTH: Not abiding by the Google+ common name policy can lead to wholesale suspension of one’s entire Google account.

When an account is suspended for violating the Google+ common name standards, access to Gmail or other products that don’t require a Google+ profile are not removed. Please help get the word out: if your Google+ Profile is suspended for not using a common name, you won’t be able to use Google services that require a Google+ Profile, but you’ll still be able to use Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Blogger, and so on.

According to this page “If your profile is suspended, you will not be able to make full use of Google services that require an active profile such as Google+, Buzz, Reader and Picasa.”

Except every last one of those services, that supposedly “require an active profile” antedate Google+ by years, prima facie evidence that they don’t “require” anything of the sort. As far as I can tell this is nothing more than a disingenuous attempt at covering for an arbitrary, punitive implementation of a misguided policy.

Dear Google: This is really weak, guys. I know you’re better than this.

4 Comments

  1. Jeffrey
    Posted August 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    For intellectual curiosoty’s stake, there have been some speculation of what’s going on inside Google itself:

    http://www.firstpost.com/tech/nymwars-make-google-too-risky-to-rely-on-65579.html

  2. Posted August 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    They’re not making up the thing about requiring a profile. I can’t use Picasa or Buzz any more than I can use G+, because Google Apps doesn’t support profiles.

    I don’t know why they include Reader in that list, though. I use Reader fine.

  3. mhoye
    Posted August 27, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    They are absolutely making up the thing about requiring a G+ profile.

  4. Posted August 28, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    In the sense that they could change it so it didn’t, yes. But what I mean is, they’re not lying about it currently needing one. And Buzz, at least, predated G+ in its profile-needing (it was the original app that Apps users couldn’t use).