Thank you, Google

(This post is starting in the middle of a conversation. It’s in response to Google’s account name policy for its new social networking service, Google+. In brief, Google has conflicting policies about what you can call yourself and is implementing them inconsistently. Try an internet search for “real names policy” or #nymwars.)

Ha! I cleared out my gmail accounts (one for “suttonkenneth” and one for “otenth.paderborn”), and so I also figured I’d clear out my contacts. That resulted in erasing all the people I had in G+ circles. Oh well, that’s probably for the best. I’ll put back in only the people I want to communicate with via G+ (which may end up being vanishingly few, after all).

As of tonight, I’ve found a replacement for Google Reader (I’m using NewsBlur); I’ve set up an Otenth email account on my own internet host as well as a “use this email when some website requires one” account (as I should have done long ago), cleared out the gmail box, and set up a “vacation” responder on the Otenth one with no end date; I’ve deleted all Google docs that were mine alone, leaving some Radio Riel shared docs that I’m just not sure what would happen if I wipe them (I’m happy using Dropbox to share files); I’ve deleted my YouTube account and will carefully assess whether I “need” to have an account; turned off or deleted analytics, and several other arcane services. I’m no longer staying signed in to Google when I leave a Google service, so that if I want to use Google search it’s not getting all gummed up with whoever Google thinks I am or thinks I know.

I’ve turned off Gchat, which I actually enjoyed quite a bit with a tiny handful of people. I haven’t set up any replacement, but there are lots of alternatives.

That leaves only the AetherChrononauts calendar created with my otenth.paderborn gmail account as the unresolved, not easily replaced service. I *have* fully shared permissions with my “real name” self, should anything happen to the pseudonymous account.

Time will tell if Google plus becomes something irrelevant to my life, or if they manage to articulate (and practice!) a coherent policy on account names that will allow any of us to feel secure using their services. I had a thriving, nascent community of online friends for the first couple of weeks I was in Google+. Almost all of them are either gone or ignoring it now.

On a side note, all the attention to Internet safety and good hygeine made me take a closer look at Facebook’s settings, too. I’ll no longer be playing a couple of games I quite enjoyed, because they “require” permission to get information about my friends that they have no business having. (I may be willing to give them my [now fake] birthday or my political or religious affiliations [which are blank], but I can’t justify handing over my friends’ information just so I can play Scrabble.)

So, thank you, Google, for showing me how foolishly I put so many of my eggs in your basket, for opening my eyes to my ignorance about the risks of internet identity theft, and for making me an advocate for pseudonyms.

One Reply to “Thank you, Google”

  1. I have been having growing concern about the “trading information for trinkets” aspect of online community. As a friend of mine said “If you aren’t paying for the product, you ARE the product” and I think it is true.

    I absolutely love my Android Phone, but I am beginning to feel a bit nervous about the smartphone data harvesting — simply how impossible it is to manage your own privacy. A friends company’s IT department felt a similar way and went to a “Blackberry Only” policy because the privacy terms made more sense for them.

    Many of the cheap/free things on offer aren’t actually cheap or free — there is a price, and while privacy may very well be impossible, we can work to at least manage the data outflow somewhat.

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