Google’s Antisocial Behavior

Dear Google,

It’s our two week ban-niversary and I bet you are wondering what to get me. Cake would be nice. Or some socks. Perhaps you could drop a short email to let me know you miss me.

It’s been 14 days since you suspended my access to Google Reader, Data Liberation, Google Profile, and various other services because the name I signed up to Google+ with didn’t sound right to you. How the time flies! You’ve always been slow to respond, it took 56 hours to respond to my appeal, but now you seem to have stopped replying all together.

When I first filed my appeal you told me that my name violated Google+’s Terms Of Services, which simply stated that I needed to “use the name that I commonly go by in daily life”, so I responded with newspaper articles (Village Voice, Wall Street Journal, etc) and statements from past employers that verified my daily name (or common law name) has been “Doctor Popular” for more than 12 years. Despite all this evidence, your support staff told me the only way to regain access to my accounts was to send in a copy of my government issued ID.

Vic Gundatro (Google’s Senior VP Social) isn’t using his “real” name and Natalie Villalobos (Google+ Community Manager) stated on this thread that “providing a government ID is an optional part of the Common Names process and our reviewer is incorrect when he says that he needs a government issued ID to confirm the name.” You guys could all get together and work this out over lunch sometime.

Two days after you told me I lost my appeal, I was notified via Twitter that my account was reactivated. I was so pleased to finally have access to Reader again, I couldn’t wait to see if “planking” was still a thing or not. Just as I was enjoying your company again, my account got re-suspended!

I quickly submitted another appeal, because I love Google Reader that much, but have yet to receive any response! At this point, I’d even take the old “It’s not you it’s me” line. Just give me a response.

Currently I’m still locked out of various Google Services because of a TOS that I didn’t actually break. I’ve sought help through email, on the Google Support forum, and even tried writing your community managers directly (through Twitter and email). The support on Google+ seems pretty awesome though… if only I could post on G+ that I can’t access my G+ account.

I’ve sought out help of other jilted lovers. I’ve held a couple of “Banned by Google” meetings in SF and have heard stories of people getting suspended, submitting their ID, and being told the name on their ID was not acceptable and their appeal was denied. Newly banned users are still being required to provide ID. Your support forum is filled with hundreds of folks using their birth names and unable to get their accounts reactivated. At this point, the first thing folks probably hear about Google+ is that if you sign up for it, you may permanently lose access to other Google Services.

By discriminating against users based on their names, Google has accidentally stumbled into the middle of a hot debate over the rights of users to their own identities on the internet. You’ve left a trail of broken hearts in your wake, but that’s not really what I’m writing about.

I’m writing as a long time user who has been suspended from various Google Services without breaking any Terms of Services. The Google “Support” team clearly have not been made aware of Google’s policies and have decided that not replying is the best way to handle users that have lost access to their Google Services.

And so today, after two weeks of being locked out of Google Reader, I’ve decided to give you some publicity: If you sign up for Google+ you risk losing access to your other Google Services.

Happy ban-niversary!