Sorry, Google+, We Still Won’t Come to Your Party
Sorry, Google+, We Still Won’t Come to Your Party: By now, it’s a depressingly familiar business tactic from Google. The search giant changes a feature somewhere in its arsenal of services to make that service integrate more tightly, and annoyingly, with the social network Google+. Sign-ups are required. Engagement is mandated. Then Larry Page gets to claim increased Google+ user numbers on the next quarterly earnings call — perhaps in the hope that having those numbers widely reported will in itself create an inevitable, Facebook-like rush to join the service.
At the end of 2013, it was YouTube comments, which now require a Google+ login. On Thursday, it was the turn of Gmail, that storied, highly respected, 11-year old free email service, to be saddled with a feature nobody wanted. Gmail users can now be contacted by anyone, anywhere on Google+ (they have to add you to their Circles first, but that’s a formality).
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You can choose to opt out of this feature, of course. But we know how this movie ends: millions of users will be too busy, or they’ll miss the opt-out email, and the first they’ll know about it is when they get a message from some guy they met at a conference once, someone they didn’t give their email address to for a reason.
What Page and Google seem maddeningly unaware of is that nobody can ever be forced into having a party. That in fact, the forcing is what makes a party impossible. If a host made you promise to go to his party before you could pass comment on a TV show in your own home, if he co-opted your local mail service to send you constant invitations from people you’ve never heard of, if he boasted about how many other people were going because he’d forced them to RSVP — well, would all that make you more or less likely to attend his shindig?