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If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.
Clearly no one at Google has heard that phrase.
Gmail announced an update yesterday that allows Google+ users to email you whether or not you’ve given your email out to them. I know that I can get pretty sarcastic (or dare I say ranty?) in this column, but this time I’m not alone. My bloggers-in-arms are standing with me in outrage. From Mashable to The Verge, social media experts are calling out Google for this sleazy idea.
When I say sleazy, I mean both on Google’s part and for the people who will be taking advantage of this tool the most. Let’s start with the latter group.
People don’t give out their email addresses for a reason. Melissa Fach recommended creating multiple business cards, some with personal information (like your email address and phone number) and some with social information for people to follow you. This is because you might only want someone to contact you via Twitter or Google+ when you meet them at a conference or networking event.
Imagine leaving the aforementioned someone – who you avoided giving your email address to in the first place – and finding that they’ve already sent you a follow-up email before you’ve even left the conference hall. Thank you, Google+.
In the grand scheme of things, the email is the digital equivalent of the home address; it’s not something people want posted all over the net for every Tom, Dick, and Larry to find.
Google+ was this close to winning over bloggers in 2013. Google authorship has been growing in popularity and content creators have been using the site to build their networks and share their posts. So why would Google create a tool that makes it easier for spammy guest posters to contact them?
CopyPressed has a generic email address that is regularly flooded with bad pitches from people trying to get links on our site. As a result, we reject about 90% of the emails sent through there. As this blog’s editor, I wouldn’t want my email flooded with pitches from people who found me on Google+.
Here’s a direct excerpt from the Official Gmail Blog:
When someone in your circles emails you, the email will appear in the Primary category. But if you don’t have them in your circles, it will be filtered into the Social category (if enabled) and they’ll only be able start another conversation with you if you respond or add them to your circles.
Yes, people outside my circles will only be able to email me once unless I reply, but that’s still one too many times.
First You Ruin YouTube Comments, Now This?
This isn’t the first time we’ve been force-fed Google+. Google recently updated YouTube (beloved YouTube, land of cats and parodies and tutorials) to require users to sign in with Google+ in order to comment. They also launched a new algorithm that’s meant to bring comments from power-users to the top of the list.
This too, was not well received by users. Many complained that they didn’t want to sign up for Google+ just to comment on a video and others noticed that users with large Google+ followings were pushed to the top. This meant Google was rewarding the true Google+ users and punishing those who resisted.
Google+ is the world’s second largest social network behind Facebook, but you wouldn’t know it. Rarely do advertisers use Google+ in their calls to action, preferring Facebook and Twitter instead. Outside of the marketing sphere, few people gather around Google+ to gossip over their friends’ wedding photos or baby announcements. 500 million members is nothing to sneeze at, so why are they all so quiet?
A while back Danny Sullivan explained that active users are, “people who have Google+ accounts who also do something within Google.”
Like comment on YouTube videos.
That explains it.
All of these updates are presented as opportunities to make our lives easier and finally integrate these day-to-day tools, when really they make our lives more difficult in the name of Google profitability.
The Thing is, Google+ isn’t Actually That Bad.
Personally, I love the idea of Google+. Posting to different circles, holding conference calls via hangout, and integrating with other sites actually seems pretty cool. The problem is that each of these updates makes me like the social network less and less because I’m being forced into it, which decreases my likelihood of using the site.
One last thing: Gmail users should be receiving an email explaining these updates, check out the Gmail blog to opt out of this option.