Editor’s note: This weekend, Google+ started cracking down on users who were flagged as having non-real names. A huge number of people have reported having their accounts disabled, and one of them was a member of the Livid Lobster team. She tells her story below…
Google+ is the new shiny social network that was recently opened up by Google. I was as happy as every other geek who got an invite to get in. Within a week, I was addicted to the real-time status updates, happy photo-posting and tagging, and
hacking, I mean, updating of my profile. There were some fun discoveries to be made on Google+, like being able to add multiple photos as your profile picture. Add a few and click on them and they rotate! Pretty neat! The interface was quite clean and who doesn’t love dragging and dropping friends into circles?
The new environment was an exciting platform to help me get back into creating content, adding comments, and just contributing to the community as a whole. But it all halted yesterday when my friend noticed that my account was suspended. I was out (and away from a desktop computer) yesterday, so I was using just the mobile app. My friend, Josh Long, noticed that my account had a 404 error. I didn’t see or notice this because everything worked perfectly fine on both the web app and the native app. I was able to +1 posts and create status updates on the mobile version, at least I thought I could!
Once I had access to my desktop, I saw the big red box saying that my profile was suspended.
Your profile is suspended
After reviewing your profile, we determined that the name you provided violates our Community Standards.
If you believe that your profile has been suspended in error, please provide us with additional information via this form, and we will review your profile again.
So I didn’t put in my full last name. I had “.net” in there instead because it didn’t let me leave it blank. I see that I am at fault. I was in violation of this:
To help fight spam and prevent fake profiles, use the name your friends, family, or co-workers usually call you. For example, if your full legal name is Charles Jones Jr. but you normally use Chuck Jones or Junior Jones, either of these would be acceptable. Learn more about your name and Google Profiles.
After reading this, I updated my profile to include my last name and filled out their form. It’s been over a day and half and I haven’t gotten a response yet. No reply saying that they’re working on it, or they received my form. My account status is kind of in limbo right now — not deleted, but not visible to the world either.
Wouldn’t it have been more considerate (customer-service-wise) if Google flagged these accounts, and put a warning on their profiles? This gives users a chance to fix their violation, and then Google can run their script again to see if users complied. Instead, users were accused and suspended before even given the chance to make any corrections. I felt like I was thrown in /usr/bin/jail without any warning (or even that one phone call).
I understand, this is Google’s product, and they can proceed how they like. But if they want to foster a positive experience within a community, this may be one wrong move. The happiness I felt using Google+ has quickly diminished as I experience this guilt they’ve put on me for such a small crime.
So, what does it feel like having a suspended account? The good news is, it’s not deleted (at least for me). All of my data (at least I hope) is still there. The photos are intact, as well as tags. But I’m unable to see my old status updates, so I don’t know if they’re still there. My old comments and +1 are still there on my friends’ posts.
If you go to my Google Profile, you will see a 404 error. However, I’m still able to log into Google+ and read all of your posts. I just can’t comment, +1, or even update my status.
On the mobile app side, there’s no real way for me to see that my account was suspended. I can create a new status post and submit it, but I’m pretty sure it just goes to /dev/null. I can +1 posts, but it doesn’t really get added. There’s no red box to tell me, “hey, your account is suspended. Log into a desktop to fix the error.” I can still see all the photos from my Picasa account and all the people in my Circles. And Huddle works fine too. I’m able to IM people on it, except their notifications will say “null sent you a message.” The only giveaway that something is wrong with your account is the Profile page. Click on it and it will be blank. The “About” and “Posts” tabs will both be empty, and your profile photo will be gone as well. This goes the same for the web app (except there’s no Huddle on that.)
I hope Google+ can resolve this issue soon. I think it’s a great product that’s both innovative and changing the way social media works. But there are definitely some kinks that need to be worked out.