android / digital lifestyle / smart phones

Google tightens the Google+ noose

From what I observe myself and other’s using, Google’s killer web apps are (in no particular order) GMail, Youtube, Maps and of course Search. Other projects have been hit and miss and many have been shut down from lack of interest, like their CSS reader. Some do OK but are heavily competed, like Google Drive versus Dropbox.

Then there is Google+, Google’s response to Social Media in general. When first launched, it quickly became the laughing stock of Social Media. So Google doubled-down. If it’s not likeable, they tried to make it useful.

First up there’s Youtube. As everyone knows, Youtube was the dumping ground of Internet discourse, the comments rife with adolescents throwing badly spelled homophobic slurs at each other. So by forcing everyone to use Google+ and use their name, Google brings a layer of accountability to YouTube. In response I chose to stop commenting on YouTube.

Next came Shared Endorsements, where Google puts your face on products. I responded by leaving Google+.

After the endorsement debacle, and the resulting loss of angry Google+ users, Google doubled-down again. This time it’s in their other Killer App, Android.

Two months ago I signed into my new Android phone, and found myself a member of Google+. So I unjoined Google+ again, used my phone for a few days, and found myself in Google+ again. So I started madly shutting down Apps and Permissions in Settings and eventually the problem went away. I never did find out what exactly caused me to rejoin Google+, because I was never asked. (Actually the one time I was asked, I declined).

Now, to leave a rating on the latest AT&T or Verizon crapware polluting your smart phone without your permission, you have to give up your privacy and join Google+. This ties in nicely with your carrier’s TOS that says you cannot publically criticize them. Google already knows your account information when you signed up for GMail to activate your Android phone. Your carrier already knows your account because you have their crapware Android App installed on your phone (and you can’t get rid of short of re-ROM’ing). So now with Google+ your wireless carrier can connect your App Review criticism to your account without even asking Google who left the critique.

So in response, I am moving off of Google as much as possible. Yes, I will maintain a token email account to manage my Android devices and Apps. Not much I can do about that.

I present My Google Acceptable Use Policy:

1. No factual personal data on Google. If that means lying about my name, sex and birthday, so be it.

2. No data stored on Google Drive. At all. Hello, OwnCloud!

3. Use another primary mail address for all business, not GMail. Keep no mail on GMail, download it immediately and delete (use POP or IMAP settings for this)

4. Use a different primary mail address from a competing service for all social media, not GMail. That keeps advertisers from “connecting the dots”.

5. Opt out of everything Google related.

6. Stay logged-out of Google/GMail/G-Whatever while surfing. Use Bing or Yahoo while logged-in to GMail. (Since I still need GMail to manage my Android).

7. Chaff. Use my now-mostly-bogus Google account to search for things I haven’t the slightest interest in, driving down the signal-to-noise ratio of my personal data.

8. Unlock/Root my phone, and if that isn’t enough to move all the crapware off, ROM it.

All this will take time. But I’m over half way there already.

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