142320v10 max 250x250 How Google+ Shut Me Down for Impersonating Myself

I don’t like Google +.

Never have.

But I do see it as important; nay, a necessary evil.

I think it’s a rather clunky platform that still suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. I’ve tried using it, and aside from how you can connect your blog to it for the rel=auth feature for SEO, I don’t see a whole lot of value. At least for me. But Google seems intent on making it a success, so they keep rolling more of their regular features into it, almost forcing people to use it. For instance, do you use G-Chat? BAM, it’s now Google Hangouts, and part of G+. Oh, and not to mention the recent move to tie G+ to YouTube’s’ commenting system.

I have friends who love Google +, and they have tried to sway me on it’s virtues, but I’m still not buying it. But again, I play the game in the name of SEO and best practices. I’ve created personal and business profiles. I’ve connected them to my site, and Google Local/Places page. I’ve regularly share both my own blog posts and those of others there. I’m a quiet, yet good, citizen of Google +.

And then this happened yesterday:

google +2 1024x303 How Google+ Shut Me Down for Impersonating Myself

That’s right, despite having a YouTube channel (owned by Google) under my own name for years, and a Gmail account, along with other Google properties, I’ve been shut down by Google+ because my “profile impersonates someone.” So, I have my picture and my name, and I’m impersonating someone? Myself perhaps?

Now see, I don’t mind that Google takes very seriously it’s goal of people representing themselves and not hiding behind anonymous monikers, or fake names, dog names, or what not. I like that. But perhaps they are a bit too vigilant? After all, I know of several folks who have circled me on G+ who are clearly using fictitious names. Why haven’t they been shut down?

I also know it is possible to report accounts as follows, one of which says that the profile is impersonating someone, which of course might have happened. Yes, I have enemies; people who like to see me squirm, because I’m such a horrible person.

google report How Google+ Shut Me Down for Impersonating Myself

But again, this all happened without any notice. I’m not even sure when it happened, because I don’t actually log in very often. I share posts to Google+, but using the +1 button on various websites. It would have been nice to have gotten an email letting me know, because they do know my email address (Gmail, hello?). In fact, with how many Google properties and accounts that I have all connected together, they should have been able to figure out that I am me pretty easily.

Oh, but it gets better. They actually have a means of petitioning them to have the decision reversed, which is good. The first option is to provide them with,

“Links to online locations where a significant community knows you by this name.”

In other words, I was to cut and paste my profile links for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. That’s right, Google was asking me to use other social networks as social proof of who I am. Kind of ironic. And seriously, couldn’t I have faked those as well, if in fact I was impersonating someone other than myself?

And if that wasn’t enough, they give me other options. On their page titled “Name Changes and Appeals on Google +,” they tell me that I can actually attach:

“Scanned official documentation, such as a driver’s license or passport”

Really? I’m going to scan my driver’s license and send it off to them in a day and age when we’re concerned about identity theft? I don’t think so. And even so, couldn’t I fake that with a little photoshop action? Or they suggest scanning and submitting articles I’ve written. So maybe I’ll just scan in some copies of Stephen King novels and claim to be him.

So, I submitted my other social network profiles and was told they would review them, and get back to me…some time. And that could apparently take up to 60 days. I doubt it took them that long to decide to suspend my account. In the meantime, I can’t post to Google+ and it hampers my ability to work with client accounts.

Oh, and when a friend suggested I ping the Google+ Help account, I thought that might work. One problem: I can’t even do that while my account is suspended. So when your account is suspended you can’t even use it to get help. Go figure. Fortunately I have friends looking out for my back and taking care of things for me.

But I shall wait. I shall bide my time.

And I’m not the only one who has ill feelings toward Google’s social platform. I posted an image of the suspension on Facebook, and got quite the conversation going. Some of the comments were rather funny. You can click through on the embedded post below and read the comments:

[facebookpost https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151815694846843&set=a.167213066842.121391.501456842&type=1]

I guess I just want them to be a bit slower to pull the trigger, and to give me some notice, and also to find a better process for reinstating accounts that were improperly reported or shut down for some reason. I mean, if it was the result of someone reporting me, does that mean I can just randomly go reporting people and have their accounts suspended…just because? I sure hope not!

I’ll keep you up to date on how this all plays out.

Have you ever had a situation where one of your personal or business accounts on a platform was inexplicably shut down?