Seen this on your Google Plus profile page?
“We’ve preapproved some custom URLs for your profile”
My “custom” URL, for instance:
Should we take them up on it?
Google Plus never made the grade as a competitor for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Heaven knows they tried. For awhile anyone with a Google account (gmail, YouTube, Zagat restaurant review, etc.) was required to create a Google Plus profile and account. Suddenly a user who wrote a restaurant review, for instance, might find that review linked to their Google Plus page, without their knowledge or permission.
This idea bombed for obvious reasons, and eventually Google stopped requiring that their customers have Google Plus accounts. Maybe discovering that enrollees only visited for about 3 minutes a month (compared to Facebook’s seven hours), contributed to the decision to loosen up.
Google Plus also got into trouble by requiring user’s real names. This was supposed to hold people accountable for online behavior. Facebook, who also has a real name policy, could have warned them otherwise. Anyway, GooglePlus customers who used pseudonyms were deactivated, including people like the Iranian activist Vahid Online, who’d been keeping his identity secret to keep from getting arrested. This led to much controversy and debate over people’s rights to control their online identity. Eventually the real name requirement was dropped, and hopes rose for a better reception. Not to be had. People did increase time spent — to about 7 minutes a month. A New York Times writer called it a Ghost Town.
Google Plus did not die, however. It has morphed into something called an Identity Service. It helps Google figure out who you are and what you like by merging the identities you create on, say Blogspot, YouTube and other services offered by Google. Forget helping you connect with others, this is purely a way to connect you with things to buy, and a way to boost Google’s revenues.
Creepy? No creepier than any of the other social media services. Remember Facebook’s secret experiments in manipulating people’s emotions?
So, what about the custom URL? The URL (Uniform Resource Locator), the name/info/address you use to connect to a website, helps anyone searching for your Google+ stuff or YouTube videos, if you post videos.
Check out Terms of Service. Google reserves the right to:
(1) take back your custom URL, and
(2) might start charging you for it in the future.
There you have it. Another (desperate?) move to woo us to Google Plus, but with little effort to hide the bait and switch. Should you take advantage of a Google Plus custom URL? Only if you don’t mind that it isn’t really yours, isn’t really custom, can be taken away at Google’s whim, and that you’ll probably be asked to pay for it in the future.
Am I wrong? Are you using a Custom Google+ URL? If you’re signed up for Google Plus, what do you think?