(Trigger Warning - violent swearing and criticism of your employer / focus of your fanboi-ism.)
Google knows me. I've been using Google since long before they were fashionable. I have a Gmail account (in my name), YouTube (also in my name), an Android developer account (name and bank details), Play account (name, credit card, and PayPal), and I've successfully reported security bugs to them. Google, I would suggest, has a pretty good idea of who I am.
My initial thoughts were... !ti kcuf
Who uses Google Plus? I don't! Earlier this year I wrote a mildly popular blog-post about how to make your G+ profile private. Frankly, I think Google+ is a massive mistake and I actively resent the rare occasions when I have to use it. Having my G+ blocked? No great loss.
Until I went to YouTube...
Arse! Because of Google's relentless desire to force the shit-sandwich of G+ down everyone's throats, they made me link my YouTube and G+ pages. What utter .sniatsknaw
I use YouTube as part of my professional portfolio. Clients often ask me to share on YouTube a video of what I'm building them. I also monetise some of my videos - Google pays that money straight into my registered business account WHICH HAS THE SAME BLOODY NAME ON IT AS EVERY-SODDING-THING ELSE!
Right. Ok. Deep breath. What magic incantation do I have to do in order to appease the Google gods?
Yeah... I'm that popular that someone wants to make a "fan page" for me. If you are one of my hordes of rabid fans - I'd rather you fed me horse-crap than created a G+ page.
Fine... Here we go!
I've never been quite so glad to live in the industrialised world with enough funds to buy a Government issued ID! I was also feeling pretty smug that I'd had the wherewithal to save a photo of my passport for just such an occasion.
Of course, lots of people have a copy of my passport. Every job interview I've been to has taken a copy. Every hotel I've stayed in wants my details. Countless bars, bank-tellers, travel agents, and HR staff have had their grubby paws on my passport. If someone was pretending to me - how hard would it be to obtain a copy of my passport?
Or, why bother - I'm pretty sure that the monkey-fiddlers at Google wouldn't know a fake passport if it bit them on the meatus. But screw it, let's upload it and wait.
It was at this point I began to get worried for all my other Google-linked services.
- G+ was down, so I couldn't share my location with my wife.
- No YouTube - which meant grovelling to clients.
- Analytics seemed fine. Oh, yes, Google has validated several of my websites which have my name in the WHOIS. If I'm impersonating myself, it's a long con.
- All my apps were still available in the app store. If someone was impersonating me - they were free to infect Android phones with whatever piss they liked.
- Gmail - thank the maker that they didn't destroy my Gmail! Ok - everyone hates email, but it is kind of a necessary evil.
- Hangouts - luckily I've abandoned Google's pathetic chat offering for something more stable and secure.
- Wallet - weirdly, Google was quite content to let me send and receive money through them. Fraudtastic!
- Who knows what else?! The ADHD-addled toddlers there have so many half-finished ideas lying about, that it's possible I.... OOOH! SOMETHING SHINY! LET'S "SUNSET" THE BORING STUFF!!!!!!
While I waited, I realised that I'd been given a bit of a wake-up call. There's no due-process with multinational corporations. One lives and dies entirely at their whim. The feeling of helplessness when faced with an uncaring monolith is profoundly depressing.
A day later, and G+ had decided that my account was legitimate.
It's not much of an apology - and I particularly like the way that they continue to imply that I did something wrong and should stick to their terms & conditions.
But, sadly, that didn't solve all the problems created by the vomit-munchers in Mountain View.
— Terence Eden (@edent) November 13, 2015
Several hundred YouTube videos set to private. What a gloriously twuntish thing to do. Of course, rolling back a change is a bit too hard for the flange-ticklers at Google. Move Fast And Break Customers' Things!
YouTube does offer a bulk editing tool - but I couldn't use it. Around half my videos were already set to private or unlisted - mostly the ones I share either with clients or close friends. So I had to painstakingly go through every single one to validate what I wanted to do with it - all the while cursing every Google employee.
*click* cockwombles *click* cloaca drippings *click* litter-bugs *click* melon-farmers *click* toad-lickers *click*.
Finally, all was fixed. I was out of Google purgatory.
Oh shove a duck up my arse and serve me for Christmas dinner! What fresh hell is this?
An utterly ancient app - which I probably should have removed years ago - is all of a sudden in violation? Of what? Literally all the app does is play that dramatic "Dah-dah-daaaaaaaah" sound. That's it! It doesn't impersonate anyone. I don't even think it works on modern phones. I'd be jiggered if anyone downloaded it in the last couple of years. What kind of nincompoop would design a system which would mark that as...
Oh, just forget it. I'm done.
I've no way of knowing what has caused these problems. It could be an innocent mistake, an internal or external party with a vendetta, something I've done... But there's no way for me to find out. Google doesn't do customer services - that's part of its business plan. Got a problem? Feel free to kindly piss right off.
That's no way to live. Constantly in fear that one day the most powerful information gatekeeper on the planet can decide you are persona non grata.
It's time to start moving away from Google. I know it won't be easy, but it's now obvious it is the right thing to do. If I'd been away on holiday, or couldn't afford ID, or wasn't acquainted with several Google employees - this could have been an absolute disaster.
It's not going to plain sailing either - running services is hard. But if it goes wrong, I will only have myself to blame - not some faceless giblet-flicker a thousand miles away.
Google have broken my trust - and they aren't getting it back. Wankers.