If you’ve ever needed more evidence that Google just doesn’t care about users who have become “inconvenient” to their new business models, one need only look at the saga of their ongoing handling of their announced Google+ shutdown.
I’ve previously discussed what I believe to be the actual motivations for this action, that’s suddenly pulling the rug out from beneath many of their most loyal users (“Can We Trust Google?” – https://lauren.vortex.com/2018/12/10/can-we-trust-google). But let’s leave the genesis of this betrayal of users aside, and just look at how Google is handling the actual process of eliminating G+.
What’s the technical term for this that I’m searching for? Oh yes: disgraceful.
We already know about Google’s incredible user trust failure in announcing dates for this process. First it was August. Then suddenly it was April. The G+ APIs (which vast numbers of web sites — including mine — made the mistake of deeply embedding into their sites, we’re told will start “intermittently failing” (whatever that actually means) later this month.
It gets much worse though. While Google has tools for users to download their own G+ postings for preservation, they have as far as I know provided nothing to help loyal G+ users maintain their social contacts — the array of other G+ followers and users with whom many of us have built up friendships on G+ over the years.
As far as Google is concerned, when G+ dies, all of your linkages to your G+ friends are gone forever. You can in theory try to reach out to each one and try to get their email addresses, but private messages on G+ have always been hit or miss, and I’ve had to resort to setting up my own invite-only forum for this purpose (“A New Invite-Only Forum for Victims of Google’s Google+ Purge” – https://lauren.vortex.com/2019/01/05/a-new-invite-only-forum-for-victims-of-googles-google-purge).
If I’d been running G+ and had been ordered from “on high” to shut it down, I would have insisted on providing tools to help users migrate their social connections on G+ to other platforms, or at least to email! Google just doesn’t seem to care about the relationships that users have built over the years on G+.
You know what else I’d be doing if I ran G+ at this point? I’d be showing respect for my users. I’d be damned well warning everyone about the upcoming shutdown on a continuing basis — not just with an occasional post on G+ itself visible only to users following that official G+ user, and not relying on third-party media stories to inform the user community.
I’d have “butter bar” banners up keeping all G+ users informed. I’d be sending out emails to users updating them on what’s happening (so far as I know, only G+ API users have been contacted by email about the shutdown).
And with only a few months left until Google pulls the plug on G+, I sure as hell wouldn’t still be soliciting for new G+ users!
Yep — believe it or not — Google at this time is STILL soliciting for unsuspecting users to sign up for new G+ accounts, without any apparent warnings that you’re signing up for a service that is already officially the walking dead!
Perhaps this shows most vividly how Google today seems to just not give a damn about users who aren’t in their target demographics of the moment. Or maybe it’s just laziness. We can assume that consumer G+ is being operated on an ever thinner skeleton crew these days. Sure, encourage users to waste their time setting up profiles and subscribing to communities that will be ghosts in a handful of weeks. What do we care?
The upshot here though isn’t to suggest that Google is required to operate G+ forever, but rather that the way in which they’ve handled the announcements and ongoing process of sunsetting a service much beloved by many Google users has been nothing short of atrocious, and has not shown respect for Google’s users overall.
And that’s nothing short of very dismal, and very sad indeed.