Google Users Panic Over Google+ Deletion Emails: Here’s What’s Actually Happening

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Two days ago I posted “Google’s Google+ Shutdown Emails Are Causing Mass Confusion” (https://lauren.vortex.com/2019/02/02/googles-google-shutdown-emails-are-causing-mass-confusion) — and the reactions I’m receiving make it very clear that the level of confusion and panic over this situation by vast numbers of Google users is even worse than I originally realized. My inbox is full of emails from worried users asking for help and clarifications that they can’t find or get from Google (surprise!) — and my Google+ (G+) threads on the topic are similarly overloaded with desperate comments. People are telling me that their friends and relatives have called them, asking what this all means.

Beyond the user trust abusive manner in which Google has been conducting the entire consumer Google+ shutdown process (even their basic “takeout” tool to download your own posts is reported to be unreliable for G+ downloads at this point), their notification emails, which I had long urged be sent to provide clarity to users, instead were worded in ways that have massively confused many users, enormous numbers of whom don’t even know what Google+ actually is. These users typically don’t understand the manners in which G+ is linked to other Google services. They understandably fear that their other Google services may be negatively affected by this mess.

Since Google isn’t offering meaningful clarification for panicked users — presumably taking its usual “this too shall pass” approach to user support problems — I’ll clarify this all as succinctly as I can — to the best of my knowledge — right here in this post.

UPDATE (February 5, 2019): Google has just announced that the Web notification panel primarily used to display G+ notifications will be terminated this coming March 7. This cuts another month off the useful life of G+, right when we’ll need notifications the most to coordinate with our followers for continuing contacts after G+. Without the notification panel, this will be vastly more difficult, since the alternative notifications page is very difficult to manage. No apologies. No nuthin’. First it was August. Then April. Now March. Can Google mistreat consumer users any worse? You can count on it!

Here’s an important bottom line: Core Google Services that you depend upon such as Gmail, Drive, Photos, YouTube, etc. will not be fundamentally affected by the G+ shutdown, but in some cases visible effects may occur due to the tight linkages that Google created between G+ and other services.

No, your data on Gmail or Drive won’t be deleted by the Google+ shutdown process. Your uploaded YouTube videos won’t be deleted by this.

However, outside of the total loss of user trust by loyal Google+ users, triggered by the kick in the teeth of the Google+ shutdown (without even provision of a tool to help with followers migration – “If Google Cared: The Tool That Could Save Google+ Relationships” (https://lauren.vortex.com/2019/02/01/if-google-cared-the-tool-that-could-save-google-relationships), there will be a variety of other Google services that will have various aspects “break” as a result of Google’s actions related to Google+.

To understand why, it’s important to understand that when Google+ was launched in 2011, it was positioned more as an “identity” product than a social media product per se. While it might have potentially competed with Facebook in some respects, creating a platform for “federated” identity across a wide variety of applications and sites was an important goal, and in the early days of Google+, battles ensued over such issues as whether users would continue to be required to use their ostensibly “real” names for G+ (aka, the “nymwars”).

Google acted to integrate this identity product — that is, Google+ — into many Google services and heavily promoted the use of G+ “profiles” and widgets (comments, +1 buttons, “follow” buttons, login functions, etc.) for third-party sites as well.

In some cases, Google required the creation of G+ profiles for key functions on other services, such as for creating comments on YouTube videos (a requirement that was later dropped as user reactions in both the G+ and YouTube communities where overwhelmingly negative).

Now that consumer G+ has become an “inconvenience” to Google, they’re ripping it out by the roots and attempting to completely eliminate any evidence of its existence, by totally removing all G+ posts, comments, and the array of G+ functions that they had intertwined with other services and third-party sites.

This means that anywhere that G+ comments have continued to be present (including Google services like “Blogger”), those comments will vanish. Users whom Google had encouraged at other sites and services to use G+ profile identities (rather than the underlying Google Account identities) will find those capabilities and profiles will disappear. Sites that embedded G+ widgets and functions will have those capabilities crushed, and their page formats in many cases disrupted as a result. Photos that were stored only in G+ and not backed up into the mainstream Google Photos product will reportedly be deleted along with all the G+ posts and comments.

And then on top of all this other Google-created mayhem related to their mishandling of the G+ shutdown, we have those panic-inducing emails going out to enormous numbers of Google users, most of whom don’t understand them. They can’t get Google to explain what the hell is going on, especially in a way that makes sense if you don’t understand what G+ was in the first place, even if somewhere along the line Google finessed you into creating a G+ account that you never actually used.

There’s an old saying — many of you may have first heard it stated by “Scotty” in an old original “Star Trek” episode: “Fool me once, shame on you — fool me twice, shame on me!”

In a nutshell, this explains why so many loyal users of great Google services — services that we depend on every day — are so upset by how Google has handled the fiasco of terminating consumer Google+. This applies whether or not these users were everyday, enthusiastic participants in G+ itself (as I’ve been since the first day of beta availability) — or even if they don’t have a clue of what Google+ is — or was.

Even given the upper management decision to kill off consumer Google+, the actual process of doing so could have been handled so much better — if there was genuine concern about all of the affected users. Frankly, it’s difficult to imagine realistic scenarios of how Google could have bungled this situation any worse.

And that’s very depressing, to say the least.

–Lauren–

Google’s Google+ Shutdown Emails Are Causing Mass Confusion

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UPDATE (February 4, 2019): Google Users Panic Over Google+ Deletion Emails: Here’s What’s Actually Happening

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As I have long been urging, Google is finally sending out emails to Google+ account holders warning them of the impending user trust failure that is the Google+ shutdown. However — surprise! — the atrocious way that Google has worded the message is triggering mass confusion from users who don’t even consider themselves to have ever been G+ users, and are now concerned that other Google services such as Photos, Gmail, YouTube, etc. may be shutting down and associated data deleted (“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 underlying problem is that many users have G+ accounts but don’t realize it, and apparently Google is sending essentially the same message to everyone who ever had a G+ account, active or not. Because Google has been aggressively urging the creation of G+ accounts (literally until a few days ago!) many users inadvertently or casually created them, and then forgot about them, sometimes years ago. Now they’re receiving confusing “shutdown” messages and are understandably going into a panic.

UPDATE (February 3, 2019): I’m now receiving reports of users (especially ones receiving the notification emails who don’t recall having G+ accounts) fearing that “all their Google data is going to be deleted” — and also reports of many users who are assuming that these alarming emails about data deletion are fakes, spam, phishing attempts, etc. I’m also receiving piles of messages containing angry variations on “What the hell was Google thinking when they wrote those emails?”

During the horrific period some years ago when Google was REQUIRING the creation of G+ accounts to comment on YouTube (a disaster that I rallied against both outside and inside the company at the time) vast numbers of comments and accounts became tightly intertwined between YouTube and G+, and the ultimate removal of that linkage requirement left enormous numbers of G+ accounts that had really only been created by users for YouTube commenting during that period.

So this new flood of confused and concerned users was completely predictable. If I had written the Google+ shutdown emails, I would have clearly covered these issues to help avoid upsetting Google users unnecessarily. But of course Google didn’t ask me to write the emails, so they followed their usual utilitarian approach toward users that they’re in the process of shedding — yet another user trust failure.

But this particular failure was completely preventable.

Be seeing you.

–Lauren–

If Google Cared: The Tool That Could Save Google+ Relationships

Views: 1011

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.

–Lauren–

Google Finally Speaks About the G+ Shutdown: Pretty Much Tells Users to Go to Hell

Views: 3503

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

UPDATE (February 1, 2019): If Google Cared: The Tool That Could Save Google+ Relationships

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For weeks now, I’ve been pounding on Google to get more explicit about their impending shutdown of consumer Google+. What they’ve finally written today on a G+ help page (https://support.google.com/plus/answer/9195133) demonstrates clearly how little that they care about G+ users who have spent years of their lives building up the service, appears to put a lie to key claimed excuses for ending consumer G+, and calls into question the degree to which any consumer or business users of Google should trust the firm’s dedication to any specific services going forward.

The originally announced shutdown date was for August. Then suddenly it was advanced to April (we now know from their new help page post that the official death date is 2 April 2019, though the process of completely deleting everyone from existence may take some months).

The key reasons for the shutdown originally stated by Google were API “security problems” that were obviously blown out of proportion — Google isn’t even mentioning those in their new announcements. Surprise, surprise:

“Given the challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets our consumer users’ expectations, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+. We’re committed to focusing on our enterprise efforts, and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses.”

Translation: Hey, you’re not paying us anything, bug off!

And as I had anticipated, Google is doing NOTHING to help G+ users stay in touch with each other after the shutdown. In other words, it’s up to you to figure out some way to do it, boys and girls! Now go play on the freeway! Get lost! We just don’t care about you!

Since there’s nothing in Google’s new announcement that contradicts my analysis of this situation in my earlier related posts, I will herewith simply include for reference some of my recent posts related to this topic, for your possible perusal as you see fit.

I’ll note first my post announcing my own private forum that I’ve been forced to create — to try provide a safe home for many of my G+ friends who are being unceremoniously crushed by Google’s betrayal of their trust. Given my very limited resources, creating a new forum at this time was not in my plans, but Google’s shabby treatment of G+ users forced my hand. No matter what else happens in my life, I promise never to treat users of my forum with disrespect and contempt as Google has:

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

And here are some of my related posts regarding the Google+ shutdown fiasco, its impacts on users, and related topics:

Google’s G+ User Trust Betrayal Gets Worse and Worse
https://lauren.vortex.com/2019/01/29/googles-g-user-trust-betrayal-gets-worse-and-worse

An Important Message from “Google” about Google+
https://lauren.vortex.com/2019/01/22/an-important-message-from-google-about-google

Boot to the Head: When You Know that Google Just Doesn’t Care Anymore
https://lauren.vortex.com/2019/01/14/boot-to-the-head-when-you-know-that-google-just-doesnt-care-anymore

Why Google Is Terrified of Its Users
https://lauren.vortex.com/2019/01/06/why-google-is-terrified-of-its-users

Why I No Longer Recommend Google for Many Serious Business Applications
https://lauren.vortex.com/2018/12/20/why-i-no-longer-recommend-google-for-many-serious-business-applications

Can We Trust Google?
https://lauren.vortex.com/2018/12/10/can-we-trust-google

The Death of Google
https://lauren.vortex.com/2018/10/08/the-death-of-google

As Google’s continuing decimation of user trust accelerates, you can count on me having more to say about these situations as we move forward. Take care everyone. Stay strong.

Be seeing you.

–Lauren–

Google’s G+ User Trust Betrayal Gets Worse and Worse

Views: 14019

When I recently posted a parody “Message from Google” regarding the upcoming shutdown of consumer Google+, I did not anticipate the wellspring of reactions from Google users, including those who were not specifically Google+ users.

An Important Message from “Google” about Google+ !
https://lauren.vortex.com/2019/01/22/an-important-message-from-google-about-google

(Google Docs Version: https://lauren.vortex.com/google-plus)

I had anticipated many folks saying that the posting was funny but in key respects depressingly true — which they did — but I did not expect my inbox to be flooded with consumer and business users telling me that they were abandoning Google services or not moving operations to Google, due to Google’s shabby treatment of so many users, and I did not realize that I was going to become the focal point for desperate, loyal G+ users asking me questions that Google has been refusing to answer.

In retrospect I shouldn’t have been surprised. To this day, Google has as far as I know not emailed ordinary G+ users about what’s going on, has no informational banners up about the impending shutdown, and (believe it or not!) is still soliciting for new users to join G+ and spend their time following other users and getting to know a service that Google is about to mercilessly destroy!

It’s remarkable. Unfathomable. Disgraceful.

And the questions. G+ users are sending me their questions:

What happens to all of the external web pages and posts that link to public G+ posts? Google taking down those G+ posts will break vast numbers of non-Google pages around the web.

What happens to sites that have deeply embedded G+ APIs for displaying “Plus” counts, follower boxes, G+ site login integrations, and more? What happens to Google Contacts data integrated from G+?

What is the ultimate fate of the actual G+ posts and related data? Do they all suddenly vanish from public view, from the control of their authors? Will they continue to be used internally by Google for ad system, machine learning, or for other purposes?

The list goes on and on.

Meanwhile, Google is hardly saying anything at all. It’s obvious that they’re treating consumer G+ — and all of its loyal users — as inconvenient pariahs, tossing us all into their dumpster as quickly and unceremoniously as possible.

My inbox is full of users both angry and sad, who loved Google but are now feeling like they’ve been pushed out of a car and directly into the path of steamrollers.

I’ve always tried to help with Google-related problems when I could. But I really don’t know what to say to these jilted users abandoned so callously by Google, because frankly I feel the same way about how Google is mistreating us, and Google has not been forthcoming with explanations, answers, or even believable excuses.

It’s obvious that Google just doesn’t care. And perhaps that’s the saddest part of all.

–Lauren–