Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

Summary: A number of Google+ accounts have been deleted in the last 24 hours as the new social network struggles with real name policy.

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A striking number of Google+ accounts have been deleted in the last 24 hours as the new social network struggles with its community standards policy around real names - alienating and frightening the people it aims to serve.

Removed but restored through influence is Limor Fried - AKA Lady Ada / Adafruit Industries: She was recently featured on the cover of WIRED Magazine.

Google suspended Limor Fried “Ladyada” Google+ profile, no show-and-tell tonight… 

Her account has just now been mysteriously restored, though only after a groundswell of complaints. Suffice it to say, the rest of the deleted accounts will not have such well-placed advantages.

Many have now been purged and not restored.

The message I received this morning from the source in my previous Google+ article summarized it,

Google+ suspended my acct "After reviewing your profile, we determined the name you provided violates our Community Standards."

After the next few messages repeating the same thing, it was clear that the dam had burst and Google+ is on an account suspension rampage.

Just Like Facebook's Real Name Hypocrisy

Ex-Google employee Kirrily "Skud" Robert. Irony? The former Google employee that originally applauded Google Plus' statements about real names had their account suspended. Kirrily "Skud" Robert writes in I've Been Suspended From Google+:

So today, I got off a plane this afternoon to find a pile of tweets, emails, and blog comments asking whether it was true that my Google+ account had been suspended. When I managed to get some wifi and check, it turned out that it had been.

They are asking the ex-employee for ID verification. Kirrily "Skud" Robert continues,

It then asks me for my name (uh, don’t you know that already?), email (ditto), link to my profile (ditto), and asks me to provide documentation. I can either give them a scan of my photo ID (obscuring “personal information”, whatever that means), or links to places on the web that demonstrate that this is my name.

They suggest using Facebook (the site that allows Google founder Sergey Brin to go under a pseudonym, and whose own founder has a page for his dog) as evidence. I have something better, though, because I expected this to happen and I had already collated my evidence. I linked to that page and submitted the form.

It raised a chilling spectre in the background about what happens, exactly, when Google suspends your account.

Page 2: [All Google services suspended for some; Coca-Cola's Google+ account "for sale"]  »

Bill Noble writes,

To be clear, the stories we're hearing so far are of people being suddenly frozen out of EVERYTHING, all their data and resources, not just one or a few Google functions. Given who we early adopters are, even a few more days of this unreasonable behavior could abort the whole G+ effort.

Others are indicating uneven application of punitive measures:

When my account was suspended it was only my profile. I could still get to Documents, Calendar and Gmail. My G+ Stream was still updating, I just couldn't post to it.

Madge Weinstein just tweeted,

Just happened to me- but they not only suspended gplus, but rather all google services incl gmail! The notice just said i violated TOS- nothing specific.

Multiple Account Sign-In Breakdown?

It is not a simple matter of using a "real name" - as much of a problematic grey area as that is. Another person cited in my Google+ article has now had their account deleted for the simple reason that they were using Gmail and Google+ with multiple account sign-in:

This is tremendously disappointing for a variety of reasons, not least that the multiple linked login functionality made G+ just about perfect for what I need. I was a big proponent of and encouraged many friends to come over here.

Oh, and for clarity: there was nothing like objectionable content in the suspended account. I simply have details of my life that I would like to put in my PROFILE that I do not care to share with all my contacts. Details that extend beyond Google's privacy controls for Profiles.

Meanwhile, this chilling post is making the rounds on tech messageboards today:

Dear Google, I would like to bring to your attention a few things before I disconnect permanently from all of your services.

On July 15 2011 you turned off my entire Google account. You had absolutely no reason to do this, despite your automated message telling me your system “perceived a violation.” I did not violate any Terms of Service, either Google’s or account specific ToS, and your refusal to provide me with any proof otherwise makes me absolutely certain of this. And I would like to bring to your attention how much damage your carelessness has done.

My Google account was tied to nearly every product Google has developed, meaning that I lost everything in those accounts as well. I was also in the process of consolidating everything into my one Google account. (...)

To say that this issue is deeply concerning is an understatement to anyone and everyone that has their businesses and personal lives tied to Google services and have an interest in participating in Google+ - even Limor Fried was participating as herself.

A.V. Flox, occasional contributor to the LA Weekly, LA Times' BrandX, Village Voice Media and section editor at BlogHer has just had her account suspended as well.

Well known nerdcore rapper Doctor Popular lost his account today - like Lady Ada, he's also a personality in tech circles, and a Laughing Squid contributor. He tweeted,

It appears my Google+ profile has been suspended because it lists my name as Doctor Popular instead of Brian Roberts. Totally lamehole.

Would they do the same to Lady Gaga? Currently there are multiple Lady Gaga accounts.

Personally, I doubt it.

Kirrily "Skud" Robert is currently compiling a database of those who have had their accounts deleted over alleged name violations. If you have had your account deleted you can contribute information at the Suspended Google+ Accounts page.

Update: Colleague Ed Bott tells me,

"Meanwhile, this profile is still alive and well, six days after it was created and after many people have reported it."

"And this one has been added since then."

Image by Kevin Dooley, under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic license, via Flickr.

Topics: Apps, Google, Social Enterprise

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171 comments
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  • such bull.

    It seems that Google+ implemented the same filtering process they use for AdSense Policy violations. They're gonna get a lot more heat for this move than they do for AdSense shutdowns though, that's for sure - I'm 99% certain they'll reverse a majority of the mistakes they made & I'd be willing to bet they don't make the same mistake again.
    nrek
    • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

      @nrek
      google was merely cutting spammers and impostors.
      a few M$ drones are badmouthing google for that, nothing more people.
      Linux Geek
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @Linux Geek There are many people, who for whatever reason CANNOT use their real ID's online. Most probably members of the GLBT community who are not out publicly to family and friends. Google's actions will just make it harder for them to have friends online who they can talk to and discuss ways to come out.
        noraadrienne@...
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @Linux Geek
        Why on Earth would you try to bring Microsoft into this, even? To garner some ill-gotten support for your incessant trolling? (Google made a huge mistake, quick, must be Microsoft fans fault...). Proof or STFU.
        TechNickle
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @Linux Geek Wake up man and get out of your mommy's basement! This is NOT an Apple and Microsoft vs Google issue but Google vs it's users issue. This is GOOGLE who is deleting accounts without any sort of warning or justification and the sad fact of the matter is you STILL have to invent conspiracies that do not exist.
        athynz
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @Linux Geek : Boy you are brainwashed! Typically blame anyone or any company but google. Google can never be wrong or make a mistake. Right? Hah!
        Gis Bun
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @noraadrienne
        You have to live with it.
        A responsible American should have nothing to hide from NSA, TSA, DHS, IRS, etc.
        using google+ is privilege not a right!
        Linux Geek
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @Linux Geek: you don't understand two things:
        1. This has nothing to do with Microsoft, and quit with the immature "M$".
        2. The question isn't whether or not one has anything to hide from this increasingly tyrannical government, but our 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.
        Please post some more, I am looking forward to see what new idiocy you can spew.
        avonolszewski
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @avonolszewski:

        Your "4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure" applies only to THE GOVERNMENT. If anybody else takes your stuff, the laws regarding larceny/burglary/theft, etc., protect you, not the Constitution.

        The Bill of Rights lists rights that cannot be taken away by the government. You can relinquish any of these rights by entering into a contract, such as one spelled out in the terms and conditions of a web site. If you then think there has been a breach of that contract, you can sue the other party in civil court (unless of course you agreed to arbitration when you clicked that button). I haven't read the Google+ TOS, but I'd be willing to bet that it says they pretty much own everything and that they can do whatever they want with it, within certain limits proscribed by privacy laws.
        Cyraxote
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @noraad As a gay person, I'm not buying that excuse. IF you've got to hide, then don't reveal your sexuality on Google plus the same way they're hiding their sexuality in person. You can't expect Google to open the door to frauds and scammers just for this marginal excuse.

        No one needs Google plus to have online friends or discuss ways to come out. Try posting at The Advocate for that.
        jgm@...
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @jgm noraadrienne said LGBT. The germane letter here, regardless of your feelings about disclosure, is T. Lots of trans people out in the world don't have 'documentation' to back up the name everybody but the government and their parents know them as. Which, really, isn't that different a situation to that of professional nom-de-guerre holders, except that the issue of going by one's original legal name is a lot stickier, and the fallout from accidental disclosure can be very real and very nasty. There has to be a third way that addresses the issue of scammers but leaves room for people using a single, consistent non-legal name.
        viciousscuttlebutt
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        "google was merely cutting spammers and impostors."

        Says the guy posting as "Linux Geek"...
        wcb42ad
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @Linux Geek

        You say, "A responsible American should have nothing to hide from NSA, TSA, DHS, IRS, etc."
        You may not be aware, but the US Government is not the only entity that trolls for personal data online. Many of those truly responsible Americans who guard our freedom (the Military) prefer not having information that can be used to target their families openly available online.
        Wiredog71
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @Linux Geek

        Are you nuts, have you been paying attention. Google is wiping out everyone. They suspended me for name policy violation too. Ewww... Jeff Hall... there is no way that could be my real name or I must be trying to impersonate someone REALLY famous. Get your facts straight before you comment!
        jefferyshall
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @Linux Geek There may well be people who gave entirely accurate details about themselves but were culled by an automated system, through no fault of their own. Unless you have very specialist knowledge as to what is happening inside the Google + software, I doubt your comment which would apparently claim it was exclusively " spammers and impostors " who were culled, is well based.
        Adrian_Wainer
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @Linux Geek

        " You have to live with it.
        A responsible American should have nothing to hide from NSA, TSA, DHS, IRS, etc.
        using google+ is privilege not a right!. "

        The argument that all those organizations would be operating to basically properly moral and legitimate objectives might be reasonably assumed but is not proven. Furthermore, even if they were, individual employees who had access to their databases might utilize the information available to them for their own criminal purposes contrary to the polices of the organization they were employed by. What also is concerning is that unless one was to suppose that the entire US intelligence operation was quite incredibly incompetent, at least one US intelligence agency and possibly several must be aware that Facebook is massively compromised by hackers and that the hackers, ( who support Islamic extremism ), have very substantive control over numerous official US Governmental Facebook pages including the White House Facebook page. The hacking situation has been continuing for months and whilst there could be legitimate reason(s) as to why the US Government is not disclosing that Facebook is hacked, I hope that there is / are legitimate reason(s) for that non-disclosure, as if there is / are not, one is getting in to some very murky territory indeed as to precisely what is the attitude of the US Government to the hacking and why.
        Adrian_Wainer
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        @Linux Geek this is not about security at all. it's about money and data mining everyone. google only cares about having accurate data compiled. that's where the money is, they don't give a **** about anything else. anything positive that comes from google is a by-product.
        peachhhh@...
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        I'm not sure what's confusing about using your real name rather than an alias. Apparently people are just surprised that Google wasn't kidding and is cracking down on the obvious offenders. It's a social network for real people to connect to real people. If you "have" to use an alias then you're doing it wrong. You're obviously not intending to connect only with people you actually know.
        <a href="http://www.escortincontriitalia.com/Escort_Girls/Napoli/">Escort Napoli</a>
        user202
      • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

        This is exactly what i came here to comment on. "no clear answers" suggests that it is a mystery as to why the accounts are being removed, however in the description they tell you exactly why, people arnt using their real names which is a requirement of a google+ account.
        <a rel="follow" href="http://credit-report-government.com/">Credit Report from the Government</a>
        services21
    • RE: Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

      @nrek I am not one of the tech elite who has been allowed to have a Google + account, so I can't say from personal experience what is going on but my guess is that it is a new system and Google will be trying to tune it. On the other hand, Facebook is an absolutely a shambles and a disgrace at every level, hackers who support Islamic extremism are running their own command, control and analysis software on Facebook's servers and Facebook's moderation is biased in favor of ideologies such as for example Nazism, Stalinist Communism and Islamic extremism.
      Adrian_Wainer