UPDATE (February 4, 2019): Google Users Panic Over Google+ Deletion Emails: Here’s What’s Actually Happening
UPDATE (February 2, 2019): Google’s Google+ Shutdown Emails Are Causing Mass Confusion
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One of the questions I’m being frequently asked these days is specifically what could Google have done differently about their liquidation of Google+, given that a decision to do so was irrevocable. Much of this I’ve discussed in previous posts, including those linked within: “Google Finally Speaks About the G+ Shutdown: Pretty Much Tells Users to Go to Hell” (https://lauren.vortex.com/2019/01/30/google-finally-speaks-about-the-g-shutdown-pretty-much-tells-users-to-go-to-hell).
The G+ shutdown process is replete with ironies. The official Google account on G+ is telling users to follow Google on Google competitors like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While there are finally some butter bar banners up warning of the shutdown — as I’ve long been calling for — warning emails haven’t yet apparently gone out to most ordinary active G+ users, but some users who had previously deleted their G+ accounts or G+ pages are reportedly receiving emails informing them that Google is no longer honoring their earlier promise to preserve photos uploaded to G+ — download them now or they’ll be crushed like bugs.
UPDATE (February 1, 2019): Emails with the same basic text as was included in the G+ help page announcement from January 30 regarding the shutdown (reference is at the “Go to Hell” link mentioned above), are FINALLY beginning to go out to current G+ account holders (and apparently, to some people who don’t even recall ever using G+).
Google is also recommending that you build blogs or use other social media to keep in touch with your G+ followers and friends after G+ shuts down, but has provided no mechanism to help users to do so. And this is a major factor in Google’s user trust failure when it comes to their handling of this entire situation.
G+ makes it intrinsically difficult to reach out to your followers to get contact information for moving forward. You never know which of your regular posts will actually be seen by any given following user, and even trying to do private “+name” messages within G+ often fails because G+ tends to sort similar profile names in inscrutable ways and in limited length lists, often preventing you from ever pulling up the user whom you really want to contact. This gets especially bad when you have a lot of followers, believe me — I’ve battled this many times trying to send a message to an individual follower, often giving up in despair.
I would assert — and I’m not wholly ignorant of how G+ works — that it would be relatively straightforward to offer users a tool that could be used to ask their followers (by follower circles, en masse, etc.) if they wished to stay in contact, and to provide those followers who were interested in doing so, the means to pass back to the original user a URL for a profile on a different social media platform, or an email address, or hell, even a phone number. Since this would be entirely voluntary, there would be no significant data privacy concerns.
Such a tool could be enormously beneficial to current G+ users, by providing them a simple means to help them stay in touch after G+’s demise in a couple of months. And if Google had announced such a tool, such a clear demonstration of concern about their existing users, rather than trying to wipe them off Google’s servers as quickly as possible and with a minimum of effort, this would have gone far toward proactively avoiding the many user trust concerns that have been triggered and exacerbated by Google’s current game plan for eliminating Google+.
That such a migration assistance tool doesn’t exist — which would have done so much good for so many loyal G+ users, among Google’s most fervent advocates until now — unfortunately speaks volumes about how Google really feels about us.