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How Google Killing Accounts Can Leave Androids Orphaned 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the changing-the-locks dept.
jfruhlinger writes "As we've heard in cases of pseudonym-users in Google+, or in the case of Dylan Marcheschi that went viral last week, Google can kill your account at any time — and since Google is keen on tying your account to its entire range of services, that means you could lose data stored everywhere from Gmail to Picasa. Blogger Dan Tynan examined one particular aspect of this problem — namely, the plight of someone who's been Google-executed and who uses an Android phone."
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How Google Killing Accounts Can Leave Androids Orphaned

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  • by kotku (249450)

    Why would you create an anonymous google account and then use your real name when complaining that it was deleted?

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Nobody did, so the only wierd thing is that you would come to that conclusion.

      • by kotku (249450)

        From the summary!

        "As we've heard in cases of pseudonym-users in Google+"

      • by Rhaban (987410)

        The only wierd thing is spelling wierd wierd.

      • by kotku (249450)

        "The google account tied to my phone is completely unrelated to the google account that has my email/etc. What sort of crazy person wouldn't create a random google account when setting up the phone in the first place?" - nedlohs

        Ahhhhh.. I guess when Google revokes your account you'll ring up and complain using your pseudonymous name right!

        • The google account tied to my phone is completely unrelated to the google account that has my email/etc. What sort of crazy person wouldn't create a random google account when setting up the phone in the first place?

          Ahhhhh.. I guess when Google revokes your account you'll ring up and complain using your pseudonymous name right!

          You do not have to use pseudonyms, use your real name. For example John Doe might create john.doe and jdoe. Use one for an Android Market account and nothing else. Google has to allow duplicate names in account profile info.

    • by Ash Vince (602485) *

      Why would you create an anonymous google account and then use your real name when complaining that it was deleted?

      The example they give did not have his account deleted for a pseudonym, it was deleted as an image he had in picasa was borderline child porn. Also, Google eventually turn his account back on after a human being reviewed his case. It was only turned off by an automated system that red flagged the image. None of this is really that surprising.

  • by wjousts (1529427) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:01AM (#36920136)
    Really? Putting all your data in the hands of a third-party means they could arbitrarily shut you out for whatever reason they want. Film at 11.
    • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Friday July 29, 2011 @10:34AM (#36921172) Journal

      On the other hand "Company with generally good service locks multiple accounts for minor infraction on one product; generates bad press" is quite surprising. It's not a shock that they can do this, it's a shock that they did do so in a competitive market when they have a history of providing the better product - coming from a telecom company I'd say this kind of thing would be par for the course, coming from Google it's a surprise and a shame.

    • by bonch (38532) *

      You don't understand--this is Google. Everywhere else, that doesn't mean a whole lot, but on tech news sites like Slashdot, Google is flawless because they use Linux and talk about "openness" a lot. That's all you have to do to get a free pass in the techie crowd.

    • Hate to say it but I told you so [slashdot.org]: "Google+ gives just too much power to Google. They already own our search, our emails, our videos and many people have Android OS phones, but now they want facebook and twitter? What's left? What won't belong to Google if we all leave facebook and join Google+?"
  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:04AM (#36920166)

    From the article

    "... found out why. A Google bot that automatically scans Picasa for illegal images flagged something Marcheschi had posted as child pornography. .....

    It turns out that the image he posted, though admittedly disturbing, was not technically porn. In fact, he says his reason for posting the image – to a collection he curated called “The Evolution of Sex” -- was to make a point about how you can post images of minors being sexualized without breaking any laws. (Marcheschi says Google deleted the image, he has no other copy, and doesn’t remember where he found it on the InterWebs, so there’s no way to judge for yourself.)"

    While I don't like the idea that google can delete your account, this is suspicious as anything to me. The fact that he also broke all traces of the image now kinda makes it suspicious to me. (Not to mention that its prolly copyright infringement too, but that's unrelated).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Marcheschi says Google deleted the image, he has no other copy, and doesn’t remember where he found it on the InterWebs, so there’s no way to judge for yourself.)"

      It's on Wikipedia, and it is the cover of the album Virgin Killer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Killer

      The naked virgin is 12, and clearly posing sexually. This image is highly illegal in many countries, including Sweden.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by xaxa (988988)

      The fact that he also broke all traces of the image now kinda makes it suspicious to me. (Not to mention that its prolly copyright infringement too, but that's unrelated).

      What about an ancient Greek vase depicting a naked, aroused, male youth? I'm pretty sure they exist (try Wikipedia, I'm not willing to look at work). Some countries would consider that child pornography.

      What about a 6 year old girl wearing a padded bra? There were news stories here recently criticising this kind of thing (e.g. here [dailymail.co.uk]). Wearing something equivalent but flat (e.g. swimming wear) is fine, and there are plenty of pictures on clothes store sites. But is the padded bra sexualisation, and does (s

    • by Hijacked Public (999535) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:22AM (#36920338)

      But it isn't really 'your' account. You merely signed up for a service created, implemented, and hosted by Google. You paid Google nothing for it and although I haven't read the Picasa TOS I suspect it contains some amount of favoritism toward Google, since Google wrote it.

      All of this internet service type stuff is very new, but even non-technical people need to be reminded that any digital sandcastles they might build on someone else's beach are subject to being washed away at any time without notice and regardless of the difficulty it might cause. All a person need do is sit down and read one single TOS in its entirety to understand that.

      • by bertok (226922)

        But it isn't really 'your' water pipe. You merely signed up for a service created, implemented, and hosted by the water company.

        Or your electricity. Or phone service. Or mail service.

        The thing is, with Google, if you do one thing wrong with one service, free or not, they instantly cut you off from everything, even the paid services, with zero warning. This is akin to a billing dispute with your water company resulting in your gas, electricity, and your phone getting cut off simultaneously.

        And what's "wrong"

      • by webheaded (997188)
        Yes, but is it necessary to cancel your ENTIRE account over a transgression in ONE service? I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty pissed off if my gmail and Android phone were suddenly gone because of something I did on Picasa or Google Plus. I've been gung ho for Google since my Junior year of highschool (2002-2003) and this is honestly the first thing about them that has REALLY given me pause. This seriously disturbs me. I get that I shouldn't keep all my eggs in one basket, but quite frankly doin
    • The fact that he also broke all traces of the image now kinda makes it suspicious to me. (Not to mention that its probably copyright infringement too, but that's unrelated).

      Regardless that it's the cover of an album of Scorpions, If he got the pic to make that point about legality, he reasonably wanted to isolate his procuring activities as much as possible to be accountable and/or on the safe/legal side (only one copy, never return to the original place). Of course, Google was not happy to find out that such collection was in its servers and it kicked him out. In the end he won't be prosecuted and got the exposure he was looking for, in exchange for his Google Account (and ev

    • by DaAdder (124139) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:53AM (#36920688) Homepage

      From the article

      "... found out why. A Google bot that automatically scans Picasa for illegal images flagged something Marcheschi had posted as child pornography. .....

      The fact that he also broke all traces of the image now kinda makes it suspicious to me. (Not to mention that its prolly copyright infringement too, but that's unrelated).

      Clearly the way you got about storing and concealing your child pornography is by creating an on line web album of it on picasa.

      Also, I find it very strange indeed that Google can make these claims, highly dangerous claims to make about anyone considering what they can do to your reputation or indeed your life, and then refuse to give you a single reason why they did it. Not even a hint of a reason, just a brick wall.

      It's strange how a highly public company that we trust with most of our data can act this way and get away with it, that it in fact can even be legal. There should be some form of due process or consumer right involved her that couldn't legally be signed away with a simple EULA. Free service or no free service, both parties should have certain obligations as long as they're in business. Whether that business be eyeballs for emails or any other form of relationship, especially a commercial one such as this.

      • Also, I find it very strange indeed that Google can make these claims, highly dangerous claims to make about anyone considering what they can do to your reputation or indeed your life, and then refuse to give you a single reason why they did it. Not even a hint of a reason, just a brick wall.

        From reading the article, I got the impression that Google did not "make these claims, highly dangerous claims to make about anyone considering what they can do to your reputation or indeed your life", in fact they went out of their way to avoid making that claim, in that their legal folks wouldn't let them the user why his account had been shut down, and it was only after a lot of digging on the user's part that a Google chap was allowed to tell him what had happened and why.

  • by Bloodwine77 (913355) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:05AM (#36920182)

    I think Facebook will end up benefiting from Google tying everything together under one umbrella. I can't speak for everyone, but I couldn't care less if my Facebook account got banned or closed. I primarily use it to socialize with some distant relatives and old classmates. It is not essential. If I lose my Facebook account it doesn't affect my email. Facebook doesn't track my Google searches.

    Facebook may be a hated company, but at least they are relatively isolated.

    It just doesn't make sense to put all your eggs in one basket. By using Google for everything you end up with a single point of failure.

    Best-case scenario is that Google scares Facebook enough that Facebook improves their privacy controls and updates their friends lists to be more front-and-center like Google circles.

    • by EvilStein (414640)

      What continues to scare me are the numbers of people that still insist how awesome Google services are. Threads about email? "Just switch everything over to Gmail." Hosting? "Use Google Apps, it's awesome." Photos? "Use Picasa.." Phones? "Oh, get an Android phone. Apple is evil."

      Google blew past evil and kept on going. They just did it right under everybody's nose.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Google blew past evil and kept on going. They just did it right under everybody's nose.

        Not really, it's just the public being fickle. Or /. to be more precise. The same things happened with Amazon, Apple, Second Life, MySpace, and Facebook - at one point it was all adoration, then hatred, and now indifference. Google's just the next party on the list (at the adoration stage), while Apple is at the hatred stage.

        About the only company not on that list is Microsoft, but I guess the "adoration" part happened ea

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        I think it is a little unfair to say that they blew past evil. It is more of a case that they seem to have lost their drive to actively be good. Give the great power they wield, a neutral attitude towards good and evil will produce some evil results. Unlike MS or Apple who started out evil and have actively worked towards a goal of evil, Google started out good, and is sliding towards evil.

        My one futile hope with Google is that they will end up as our Rosa Parks of Corporate abuse. Realistically I kn
  • FUD article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cheburator-2 (260358) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:05AM (#36920190)

    Google doesn't suspend Gmail and Picasa when it disables Google+ profile, only Google+ and unfortunately Google Reader gets suspended. And in case of Dylan - well, just don't put anything resembling child porno in Picasa, and you'd be ok.

  • by david.given (6740) <dg AT cowlark DOT com> on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:10AM (#36920224) Homepage Journal
    So factory reset it and associate it with a different account. I do Android development and we do this as a matter of course to switch to different accounts. Am I missing something? What's the problem?
    • by timepilot (116247)

      I think the article was written by someone who has never used an Android phone and couldn't be bothered to take the time to verify the nonsense that they were passing on.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Thantik (1207112) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:26AM (#36920384)

      And then every purchased market app suddenly goes byebye...

    • by Tim C (15259)
      Well quite apart from it being a complete hassle as you'll have to recreate all your contacts, copy your music, etc back to it, and so on, you'll also lose access to any apps you've purchased. Apart from that sure, it's a great solution to Google's fuck-up.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by NatasRevol (731260) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:44AM (#36920584) Journal

      Testing != real life. You actually tie things to an account in real life.

      If they block my account, I can lose access to my email, photos, custom setups, calendars, documents, voicemail/phone number, blog pages, adsense accounts, billing, credit card info, perhaps actual money from adsense.

      See here for a list of what can be taken from you.
      http://www.google.com/intl/en/about/products/index.html [google.com]

      Granted, it's a free service with no guarantees, but that doesn't mean there isn't real impact on real people.

      • by Sloppy (14984)

        I can lose access to my email, photos, .. calendars, documents, ..blog pages

        Surely you see this situation as insane, all Google+ issues aside. If people are really relying on a third party to store the one and only copy they have of these kinds of things, perhaps it is a good thing that people are getting banned on Google+. You had a problem brewing anyway, and now here's the wakeup call to deal with it.

        If you lose all that data later today, then perhaps shame on Google. If a week from now, or later you

        • These aren't my specific issues. I was using them as an example of what people could lose. Yes, lots & lots of people store photos, emails, documents, etc in one place.

          And any billing/money issues always go through a third party. You can't really back up money.

          You can't push the Google+ issues aside, because these losses are the consequence of those issues.

    • by kiwimate (458274)

      Well, I have zero credentials as I don't have an Android phone and don't use GMail or Google+ or really any of Google's services at all, but I can read the article.

      I asked Google what would happen. The news is both good and bad.

      "Your Android phone would still function, for example to make phone calls, surf the Web, send and receive texts, etc.," sayeth a Google spokeshuman. "Obviously Gmail, Contacts and other services tied to your Google Account wouldn't work."

      In that case, your only option would be to create a new Google account and, yes, start from scratch. That would likely involve a factory reset of your phone, so kiss your contacts, text messages, and other stored data goodbye.

      So...I don't think it's quite as bad as the attention-seeking story headline makes it sound at first read, but it's still inconvenient at best. I lost several (not all) of my contacts a few months ago when my company upgraded my BlackBerry and it's a pain in the proverbial. If you're doing this for development purposes, you probably don't have ac

    • It's more reasonable to use your real google accounts with gmail, calendar, picasa, etc on the phones, where it's actually USEFUL, and limit G+ to the fake google account on a pc.

      (And after this brouhaha, to find non-google solutions for your phone data.)

      Damn, this is the FIRST TIME I've wished I'd standardized on iPhones instead of Androids. Never heard of apple (or even MS) basically bricking phones.

      • by mcmonkey (96054)

        It's more reasonable to use your real google accounts with gmail, calendar, picasa, etc on the phones, where it's actually USEFUL, and limit G+ to the fake google account on a pc.

        (And after this brouhaha, to find non-google solutions for your phone data.)

        Damn, this is the FIRST TIME I've wished I'd standardized on iPhones instead of Androids. Never heard of apple (or even MS) basically bricking phones.

        Why? You've never heard of Google bricking an Android phone either.

        I having a hard time finding the story here. I don't have an iPhone, but I assume you could use an iPhone to work with Gmail. What would happen in that case if Google closed your Gmail account? Your iPhone would still do everything it does, except work with your closed Gmail account.

        So what happens with an Android phone and Google closes your Gmail account? Your iPhone would still do everything it does, except work with your closed Gmai

        • I think if the standard android user (think non-rooted) suddenly lost their google acct for whatever reason, they'd be shocked to learn exactly how integrated the phones are with google. Forget gmail; think calendar (years' worth of files, dates, appts, notes), picasa (which many of us used well before google acquired it and decided to become Morality Police), Voice (voicemail, esp archived ones), and esp Contacts, not to mention market apps, all seamlessly integrated under your gmail account. (And many peo
    • by Dunega (901960)
      Shh, that doesn't make Google and Android look bad.
    • > Am I missing something? What's the problem?

      Big, huge bit of advice: don't link your Market developer account to a Gmail account that does anything besides sit passively and be an otherwise-unused Gmail account. If you associated your Market developer account with a gmail account associated with G+ and they suspended it, you'd be *beyond* screwed commercially. Depending upon how aggressively Google wanted to mess up, you might not even be allowed to *create* a new developer's account for Android Market

  • by cronot (530669) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:10AM (#36920236)

    I don't like that my G+ profile shouts my real name everywhere too. So I was looking around in my profile, and guess what: There's a "Nickname" field in there - but the profile form explicitly says that it won't be shown in the profile. Why the hell are they doing that? Why have this field if it's not going to be used?

    The dumb part is that Google could be fixing this problem in a much less disrupting way: Make the "Nickname" field actually useful, make it the default field shown for the public, or have the user setup if he wants the Nickname to be shown or his real name. Hell, if Google is so bent into real names, at least make the Nickname the field to be shown to the public, and the real name only to your friends / circles. What a waste.

    • by bkaul01 (619795)

      So I was looking around in my profile, and guess what: There's a "Nickname" field in there - but the profile form explicitly says that it won't be shown in the profile. Why the hell are they doing that? Why have this field if it's not going to be used?

      The "Nickname" field is searchable so you could, for example, fill that as "cronot" and anyone from Slashdot who wanted to follow you would be able to find your profile by searching for your username here.

    • by ADRA (37398)

      I think the appropriate words are 'work in progress' to describe a lot of the facets currently available through G+.. here's hoping the have the time and effort to really push em out sooner than later.

    • by jvkjvk (102057)

      It is used to tie you to other Identities that they may not currently associate with your real name.

      They don't particularly care if it is useful to *you*, but it is very useful to *them*.

      So, now you are seeing what their priorities are. Of course, this should probably already be obvious to everyone.

      Regards.

  • If a guy is a lot older than you, make sure to always use his android phone when calling.
  • by alta (1263) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:14AM (#36920268) Homepage Journal

    I'm glad my iphone isn't controlled by some mega-company... ;)

  • by suraj.sun (1348507) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:14AM (#36920278)

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, backup your google docs, gmail while you can... 'coz believe it or not even though I do not have Google+ or Adsense etc in last 2 weeks I've came across "Account has been disabled" screen twice while logging into gmail though somehow after waiting for few minutes both the times i was able log into gmail. And now I'm taking gmail and docs back few times a day to a folder which is being synced with Skydrive.

    Gmail : http://www.gmail-backup.com/ [gmail-backup.com]
    Google Docs: http://code.google.com/p/gdocbackup/downloads/list [google.com]

  • ...why anyone would use Gmail for anything other than utterly disposable correspondence?

    Google Takeout designed to help you move most of your stuff off G-services. The problem? It falls down badly when it comes to Gmail – probably the most important Google service for most of us.

    • by Namarrgon (105036)

      Good thing it supports POP3 and IMAP. Not the most efficient way, but certainly well supported.

        A mailbox that didn't let you get your mail out wouldn't be a whole lot of use.

    • by Jonner (189691)

      ...why anyone would use Gmail for anything other than utterly disposable correspondence?

      Google Takeout designed to help you move most of your stuff off G-services. The problem? It falls down badly when it comes to Gmail – probably the most important Google service for most of us.

      I have been using Gmail (as well as my own mail server) for many years and it's been very reliable. The main reason I haven't been motivated to stop using it is that Gmail is easily IMAP-accessible, so I can use any client I want and I will be able to move all my mail any time I want. I'm not sure what failure the article is talking about since it links to a Google page explaining exactly how to get your Gmail messages out using POP3 or IMAP.

  • by Spiffy (16623) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:31AM (#36920432)

    Instead of calling it "Google execution," how about simply "excommunication"?

  • I've been meaning to ask this, but how does Google know that my real name isn't "Pope Ratzo"?

    Do they do background checks on Google+ users? Urine tests? Genetic profiling?

    • how does Google know that my real name isn't "Pope Ratzo"?

      Because you gave the game away here on Slashdot! Google is too smart to be mislead by a extraneous space. :)

  • A few days back, a Google exec said that a Google Profile ban wouldn't affect GMail, Docs or other Google services. Only Google+ and Reader. Now, the Google spokesperson quoted by the article is saying that Gmail, Contacts and all other Google account services won't work. Which is it? Given that I have so much of my data in GMail, Docs, Reader, etc, the idea of being banned for my name not being "real enough" makes me nervous.

  • by robmv (855035) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:38AM (#36920520)

    Google has explained [google.com] that being banned only from G+ does not ban you from other services

    MYTH: Not abiding by the Google+ common name policy can lead to wholesale suspension of one’s entire Google account.

    When an account is suspended for violating the Google+ common name standards, access to Gmail or other products that don’t require a Google+ profile are not removed. Please help get the word out: if your Google+ Profile is suspended for not using a common name, you won't be able to use Google services that require a Google+ Profile, but you'll still be able to use Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Blogger, and so on. (Of course there are other Google-wide policies (e.g. egregious spamming, illegal activity, etc) that do apply to all Google products, and violations of these policies could in fact lead to a Google-wide suspension.)

  • by Camahueto (1349531) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:54AM (#36920708)
    Google should offer a way to get your data out of the system, even if your account is locked.

    PS: Google said they werent blocking entire accounts just Buzz and Google+ [google.com] a fact is confirmed by some Hong Kong users here [google.com]

  • much with (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nimbius (983462) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:55AM (#36920720) Homepage
    smartphones as well as social networks, in the immortal words of Richard Stallman, "you are the product, not the consumer." so kindly continue your farmville farming, twitter tweeting, foursquare check-ins and placement of those to whom you relate closest into magnificent target demographic circles. the sausage factory doors are to remain locked for a reason.

    Google and Facebook have a shareholder responsibility to ensure their product is of the highest quality, you see. in terms of produce, what google is doing is the equivalent of removing rotted tomatoes from their sales cart. So long as you continue to perform normally and consume regularly, there will be no problems. Champion no unsanctioned social causes, boycott no sponsors product, and subvert not the model afforded to you.
  • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Friday July 29, 2011 @10:36AM (#36921214)

    It seems that no one took Google seriously when they labeled Google+ as a beta project. The thing is still under construction and people are complaining that it doesn't work perfectly. Gee, I wonder why.

    I'm not into the social networking stuff so I haven't bothered trying to get an invite, but representatives from Google have stated that Google+ deactivation shouldn't deactivate Gmail and other services. This Marcheschi guy didn't get his G+ account banned, the article didn't even say whether he has one, he got his main Google account banned for posting questionable pictures in Picasa.

    In fact, he says his reason for posting the image – to a collection he curated called “The Evolution of Sex” -- was to make a point about how you can post images of minors being sexualized without breaking any laws.

    So he set out to get his account banned and it worked. Then he publicly griped about it because he's an attention whore. Nothing to see here.

    Anyway, what type of sick fuck wants to show images of minors being sexualized, legal or not? Apparently Mr. Marcheschi is fairly computer illiterate considering he doesn't know where to find a picture that was on his computer at one point. Or maybe he just knows no one would defend him if he actually made it public. After all, how is an image of a child being sexualized not child porn?

    • by Cederic (9623)

      It seems that no one took Google seriously when they labeled Google+ as a beta project. The thing is still under construction and people are complaining that it doesn't work perfectly. Gee, I wonder why.

      Maybe it's because the beta service is leading to non-beta services being withdrawn, broken and otherwise fucked up.

      Shit, if you can't sandbox your beta then it isn't a beta, it's a badly written live release. And yes, people will complain about that.

    • by Xacid (560407)

      "Anyway, what type of sick fuck wants to show images of minors being sexualized, legal or not? Apparently Mr. Marcheschi is fairly computer illiterate considering he doesn't know where to find a picture that was on his computer at one point. Or maybe he just knows no one would defend him if he actually made it public. After all, how is an image of a child being sexualized not child porn?"

      Are you one of those "oh think of the children" types who knee-jerk at everything?

      It could have been him making a larger

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