I have deleted my Google+ profile, effective immediately.
I know, I know, I was all hot to join Google+, to the point of publicly begging for an invite. But now, after having played with it for a while, and after seeing how Google has once again failed to think their policies through with a social network, I’ve decided that the reasons to leave outweighed the reasons to stay.
In particular, I was concerned about the real-name policy–not because I was in violation, but because of the severity of the penalties involved and how arbitrary the enforcement seemed to be. I won’t recount all the stories (here‘s a starting point), but it reeks of the same lack of forethought that all of Google’s social products have shown.
I also got scared about this story, involving a longtime Google user who had his Google account suspended–and with it, virtually his entire digital life–because a Google bot wrongly flagged an image he had posted as being obscene. At the time, nobody at Google would tell him what was going on; it was only after his story went viral that a human being looked at the offending image and reinstated his account.
To me, these arbitrary and capricious uses of the banhammer are fairly terrifying, even though I’m not doing anything that comes close to violating Google’s TOS. I depend on Google for far too much of my digital life not to take seriously the possibility that I could lose it all because of a poorly thought-out policy, whether enforced by a human or by an algorithm. (Not to mention the fact that I have an Android phone linked to my account, which means a risk of even more pain.)
Add to all this the fact that Google+ doesn’t really offer anything that I don’t already get from Facebook, and that I’ve never been all that comfortable with Google Profiles anyway, and I see no reason to stay with Google+.
And I will also be looking at how to extract at least some of my digital life from Google’s clutches. I won’t be leaving entirely, or immediately, because so much of it is extremely useful. But I’m convinced now that it’s not wise to have so much of my activities dependent upon a single company–especially when that company is looking more and more like the Borg. I think it’s time to escape before I’m irreversibly assimilated.