As with Google Buzz, there are some awfully sneaky things about it. They got me to invite people who weren't part of their network, people who were in my Gmail contact list. They appeared to have already been part of it, and also appeared to have requested contact with me. Only later did I find out when I got an email from one of my friends thanking me for the invite that I had been used virally. I bet this is how Scoble came to send me the "invite."
Later, as I was doing my normal surfing on my iPad, a lot of which involves looking things up on Google, which is so much a part of my routine that I never even think about what I'm using, I kept noticing the black bar that now has Facebook-like stuff in it. The bar is new, and this Facebook-like behavior is even newer. I found this horribly intrusive. I said later, in my opt-out message, that Google, to me, has always stood for minimal and simple user interface. That they stay out of your way. This goes all the way back to the beginning of our relationship, in 1998, when I -- like a lot of other web users of the day -- chose Google over their competitors because the others were getting loaded down with the kind of crapware that Google is loading up on now.
It was after seeing how they had inserted this into search that I decided I had made a mistake by opting-in. Remembering that it was impossible to opt-out of Buzz (I still accidentally click on the link from time to time, as a Gmail user, you can't get rid of it) I figured that it would be similarly impossible to rid myself of Google Plus. I tweeted at that moment that they had led me thinking about how to eradicate Google search. I had just read an article about a massive bot-net, and how the Republicans have infected the US govt. My mind was on infection, at that moment. I have a feeling this decade is going to be about fighting financial, political and technological infections.
One of my Twitter friends sent me a link to the opt-out page. Thankfully, it gave me the choice of not deleting my Google profile. I seem to recall that opting-out of Buzz made it seem that I'd lose my profile. Maybe that's why the links never went away. I forget. Anyway I was grateful that at this moment, they chose not to blackmail me. Maybe they heard that if you make it hard to get out, that will eventually get around and will keep people from trying your product? It's not so important how a company learns to treat its users with respect, though I would prefer if it came from a set of principles, from self-respect, rather than expedience.
1. A screen shot of the "downgrade" confirmation page.
2. They asked why I opted-out, so I told them.
I see Facebook as a virus too. All those buttons on all those websites. I know why they're there. I don't put them on my sites, though wordpress.com put them on the sites I host there, of course without asking me. Another asshole company. At least Facebook doesn't have the power to put themselves into the search engine that I use 100 times a day. So they have earned a spot in my browser chrome. That's how Google should constrain themselves. Don't force your latest megalomaniac power-grab on your users. Let your designers earn their linkage, instead of giving it to them. Your users aren't as dumb as you think. They know when they're being used. Sure, some of them like it -- but the ones you want to keep, imho, are the ones who don't.
PS: I wish they didn't use words like "downgrade" and "deleted" in the opt-out process. That's so super-dramatic, self-important and one-sided. And makes me want to not try it again, even if you make some of the changes I'd like to see. I don't see it as a downgrade, I see it as restoring sanity. And I didn't delete anything because I never created anything in your stupid social network. Lighten up. The term for what I did is opt-out. That's what you should call it.