How Google Plus became “Uncool”

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Internet
Tags: , ,

You would think that a company worth half a trillion dollars would take their reputation a little more seriously.  Apparently Google is unaware that its latest “social network” offering Google Plus has become the most hated social network ever.  Today admitting that you have a Google Plus account is as bad as admitting you had an aol.com account back in the 90’s.  It has become the symbol of the brazen corporatization of the social internet.  Negative press is coming from major publications and from across the blogosphere.  What is amazing to see is that Google’s reaction to all this negative press is to stick to their guns and make matters worse.

The principle reason for all this negativity can be explained with one made up word: Nymwars.

Google Plus started on June 23rd, and was by invitation only.  Apparently someone at Google saw The Social Network and decided to follow the creed that “exclusivity creates demand”, so they limited the number of people that could join Google Plus, and somehow ended up with 25 Million within a month.  That to me sounded fishy right away.

Then came the Nymwars, Google started booting out people with funny names on suspicion that they were “fake”.  Google demands that all users of Google Plus use their real legal names or go somewhere else.  Being someone who goes by four different names (my legal name being my least used) this debate over “What is a real name?” has been very surreal one.  To me, Google is acting like a narrow minded bigot who thinks all sex is hetero and in the missionary position.  There are lots of different kinds of names.  I am someone who never goes by my legal name, and it is extremely helpful, because anyone who calls or writes to me using my real legal name is instantly someone who I don’t want to deal with. Friends, family, and even all my financials are all under another name.  At work I go by a nickname, a variation of my legal name, that everyone uses for brevity.  Finally everyone online knows me as Ariane, or ArianeB.  I cannot join Google Plus and stay within the rules they prescribe, so I don’t.

People that follow the rules, with foreign names, single word names, and words in their names not normally associated with being names are being unfairly targeted by the Google gestapo demanding, “Papers Please!” in order to get back in.  Their new “Verified” tags are down right embarrassing, and just making the situation worse.  If it was just their stupid social network, nobody would give a damn, but Google is threatening people who don’t comply with termination of all Google based services, some of which people need for their employment.  Such tactics are creating a small but growing movement away from all things Google.

Why is Google doing it?  Why are they threatening their customers on some made up issue?  It is because they think they can get rich off of it. Fake names are not real customers, according to Google.  They want your information, so they can sell it to advertisers.  They are like those ugly naked creatures from Futurama: Bender’s Big Score, who profit off people’s gullability that Google is not evil.

Here is the bottom line.  I work in the tech industry, with lots and lots of fellow computer geeks who are always on the cutting edge of internet culture.  When Google released “exclusive” invitations to Plus, most of the company had invites within days.  Just two months later, and nobody at work is talking about Google Plus anymore.  I can’t find anyone who uses their account, and those of us who do not have accounts, don’t really want them. It is has been shunned as “uncool” by the techie masses.

Google Plus is another flash in the pan idea, from the makers of Google Wave, Google Buzz, Google Orkut, and Google Lively.  I’ll admit that Google Plus is built on superior technology and tools than Facebook, and that is what drove initial interest, but cool tech only goes so far.  Reputation is everything, and the quicker Google figures that out the quicker they will dump Google Plus, Google Profiles, and everything else associated with this marketing disaster.

Comments
  1. When it comes to internet activity, I am one of those who shun social networks. Facebook doesn’t interest me. I’m mostly interested in the 3D graphics associated with games, still pictures and animations. The activity that counts to me are some various web-forums, eg. at DAZ3D.com, Shark’s lagoon and a couple of others. The reason is pretty simple, I don’t have time for all this activity!

    There is only 24 hours a day, and most of it is taken by work, sleep, eat and so on. The rest is spent on doing the interesting things that I like; set up scenes and render them (posing the figures and adjusting the materials takes 80% of the time), games.

    Yes, I love games, I was one of those yahoos that was first playing Portal and Portal 2 when that came out. And I interact with players through Steam; eg. I used to spend a lot of time playing Counter Strike: Source, and when Team Fortress 2 came out, I really loved that game.

    I recently logged over 1 thousand hours playing Fallout: New Vegas since the release last year. It’s a bitch because it was (and still is) a bit buggy as it can crash to desktop, but I do play it as it’s one of those games I feel free to do whatever I want. Last week I rounded Old World Blues, and it was a spoof on old fashioned science fiction-evi scientist-them (albeit the scientists weren’t really evil, just forgetful….).

    So, when do I have time for Facebook?

  2. “… anyone who calls or writes to me using my real legal name is instantly someone who I don’t want to deal with…”

    Exactly!
    If I get a phone call where someone asks for me by my full legal name, I usually tell them they have the wrong number.

    As for G+ and Google’s new attitude, I could do without both but I what I can’t do without is my Android phone so I feel slightly hypocritical while going on about how wrong I think Google is for turning on it’s users the way they did while at the same time the best way to contact me is thru Gmail, GTalk or GV…..sigh

  3. tautha says:

    Ariane isn’t your real name? Ahh, my ilusions are shattered! :)

    I share you frustration with google of late. I never bothered with google+ but watched with interest what went on. Seems they are more interested in getting a firm grip on mobile network at the moment. We watch with keen interest over at Elreg. If you haven’t been to the site before I think you’d like it. “Biting the hand that feeds IT”. It has little respect for the industry as a whole, and it shows… http://www.theregister.co.uk

  4. Rob Gordon says:

    Good post Ariane. When I was young and stupid, I organized a union at a food research company where I worked on the night shift and threatened a strike. The management there took it completely seriously. They immediately organized a meeting to discuss our issues and even made a few minor concessions. As a result, my career as a union organizer was rather short lived. You are right – Google has let Nymwars take root – they are not nearly as smart as I once thought they were.

  5. [...] Originally Posted by Desmond Shang A few quick points. 1) Technically Linden doesn't need proof of anything, per se, to permaban. In California (maybe everywhere? I'm no lolyer) it can be as simple as "no shirt, no shoes, no service" or "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." Of course, there's less nonsense later if there's a reason, but, getting hung up on proof is kind of pointless. I think it's clear that even members who were barely and peripherally involved with w hat or Woodbury got permabanned in the past. They took a 'cut out the tumor' approach. 2) Going by what I've seen on group chats alone, I can tell everyone right now that the average general user of SL has probably racked up enough "disclosure" to warrant a permaban three times over, on a purely technical basis. Think about it. Every time someone says "oh, Francine left work and is now with her cousin Claudia buying a new chainsaw in Toledo." Even worse, what about RFL? There's an entire litany of RL disclosure of deeply personal medical information that can last for an hour or more. 3) There is some deep irony in the zealous, assiduous collection of data to show what's wrong with the JLU. I'm beginning to wonder if it won't be some big, messy, mutually assured destruction kind of thing in the end, when all sides suddenly air every scrap of dirty laundry they can on everybody. My guess is that if they go down, they will take at least a few down with them. * * * * * All this boils down to "don't do stupid stuff that will get you banned" and that applies to every single one of us. If only all parties could just stop it right now, and pledge not to do any more stupid stuff. But that's asking too much, maybe. I concur. And yet, I think you either miss or fail to state the essential point as being too obvious. Trust me, it isn't. It's clearly not obvious enough to Linden Labs – and much much bigger players have missed this point ENTIRELY. Most of us make these slips because we are among friends, friends whom we are concerned about and care for. There is no malicious intent. We aren't trying to gain an advantage or "take someone out of the game." That is the end that tos restrictions on these typical means are trying to achieve. But really, the important consideration here is a term called "game balance." As much as I hate people who say to those in emotional distress, or those who've lost huge investments due to the malicious efforts of others or their own foolishness – it IS a very complicated and game at the design level. The money is part of a system intended to keep score on one critical axis. A successful game cannot have an inherent bias toward one or another sort of player. The outcome should not be predictable at the moment you "roll up an avi." And that is exactly what the JLU is trying to do. Make the grid safe for the sort of people they want to see on the grid. And I don't want to play in any game they mod. Seriously, my dear lindens, stop hiring experts and talk to your users. Else… THIS! [...]

  6. sorornishi says:

    I have deGoogled my life… I would love to know how many others have done so…

  7. tautha says:

    WTF? Having had the time to look at the 2 links below and read further blogs and forums, it appears that Google has taken something of a sinister turn. Just what sort of ‘Identity Service’ is it that G+ is suposed to be? Who on earth would expect to have to provide proof of identity just to use it? Between this and the patent wars it’s currently engaged in, Google is becoming some sort of corprate monster. If things get much worse I think I will be following Sorornishi’s example.

    OT – that’s not an episode of Futurama – it’s 3 Parliment members on holiday :)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cartoon/2011/sep/07/steve-bell-nadine-dorries-cartoon

  8. I was around when spam from AOL users was rampant… “cn you sand me piktre of nkud wiman, plez” I’d get similar e-mails several times each week, it amazed me that people who were so ignorant could actually get an account with an ISP and manage to fumble an e-mail.

    G+ is *nowhere* as bad as AOL ever was.

    At the moment, for whatever reason, I haven’t been booted from G+, If I am well that’ll end that experiment.

    Quora was far worse… people correcting my questions, which didn’t need correcting. I think you can see that I can put together a few words all on my own, thankyou.

    Then telling me that I couldn’t use my nym or photo, and if I didn’t change it, I’d be removed.

    I flipped the bird and left them.

    So far I’m still using G+, and many of my friends are… But some who should never have been thrown off, have been, much to my annoyance.

    If it wasn’t for this peeve, G+ *could be* better than Facebook, but I can’t say that it is.

    As for those who write “I have no time for…” Well you don’t really count as you’d flatly refuse to *try* anything that was on offer.

    It’s not about the social network, you don’t phone friends on your landline and chat about the lovely phone you’re using, you chat about life… You don’t use the phone, you lose contact with friends… you don’t use social networks, then you don’t meet people, who could be awesome.

    it’s about the people, stupid.

  9. Klaus says:

    You guys are insane or just plain stupid.

    The “verified account” is to make sure “celebrities” are who they claim to be.

    Wtf is wrong with that? It has nothing to do with privacy or anything else.

    If I were to follow “Britney Spears”, I’d be darn happy to know that it wasn’t a fake profile…

    Is that really so hard to understand?

    • tautha says:

      Tsk.. now now Klaus, you have to play nicely with the other children.

      I think it has a little more to do with than making sure you’re cyberstalking the right person. No other community networking platform does this, or is planning to as far as we know. Hopefully we’ll know more in the near future. What is annoying is that many people have created groups on G+, and now Google is moving the goalposts in a rather abrupt manner, and they don’t feel fairly treated.

      Is that really so hard to understand?

  10. Actually, one of the best bits I’ve yet seen about this may be found here:

    http://t.co/UxoCx3m

    Spot. On.

  11. tautha says:

    Thanks for that Bonnie – very interesting.

  12. fjpoblam says:

    One wonders when they’ll get around to the “real name” requirement for *all* their services, not just pluzz.

  13. I think privacy is dead, or is at least dying. I think the digital (information) age is killing any form of privacy we may have thought we once had (we never really had much to begin with, you´d be surprised what governments know about us all) and technology has stripped off the last remnants. The thing is for governments and corporations this is a two way street, we know more about the dodgy dealings of both than at any other time in history. So many documentaries bring to light the inner workings and disgusting behaviour of our overlords and their minions. (Posted as logged into Facebook which also knows oh so much about me). :P

  14. Thanks so much for including a link to my blog in this article!

    I am really thrilled that the community has responsed and been heard outside of our “little electronic ghetto.” I am very proud of this community for speaking up and saying, “we have a voice in how the net is used and works.”

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