I Love Google. I Hate Google.

Oh Google, you’re like that toxic friend who accidentally breaks your stuff on a regular basis, but lets you use his cabin down by the lake.  Except now, you randomly take appliances out of the cabin or shut off the electricity.  Not to mention that one box where we’re supposed to put our coats that we can never get them back out of.  What’s up with that?

So why am I in this quandary?  Because Google is the Hotel California.  You can check out any time you like, but  you can never leave, and they sometimes take your bed sheets.  I understand they have takeout.google.com, but if you have used their services in any genuine way, your data is almost impossible to extract without errors.  Think about that though, why would they be motivated to let you have your data back?

When you use Google services YOU are the product THEY sell

They’ve been reading your email and analyzing your family photos for decades.  Don’t believe me?  Head over to photos.google.com and search for “dog”.  You’ll probably see every photo you’ve ever taken that has something resembling a dog in it.  Even this one (which is clearly a small painting of Oto from the kids TV show “Doki”)

Take just a moment to let that sink in.  I’ll wait.

Google is doing photographic analysis of your uploaded pictures, it is already identifying the contents of them, and storing them as searchable data. Meaning Google knows who and what you take pictures of.  Spooked enough, well now think about the ad you saw on Tuesday for the thing you searched Amazon for on Monday.  Google not only extracts everything they can about you, organizes it, and catalogs it, but then they package and sell it.  Which makes you, the user, a valuable commodity.

Now you know why their service is ‘free’.  It’s free just like ranchers don’t make their cows sign a lease for pasture ground.  We’re just data cows, and Google milks us for our sweet digital gold every time we post a pic, write a review, send an email, receive an email, or do a search.  Let me put that into perspective for you.

Google is the real Big Brother

Okay, now we understand how valuable we are to Google. The next serious problem with  Google is what is happening to Google Apps for Domains, sorry, G Suite.

You remember that service, the bold claim of all the Googly goodness while keeping your very professional sounding iBlowStuffUpForFun.com domain.  You got to have Docs and Drive and Gmail and everything else.  All you had to do was wait a couple weeks after each new thing was released for Google to make sure it was ‘good enough’ for you.  You were special after all.  Google said so.  You had Gmail with your own domain name.  First class, baby!

A short wait for new features, no problem.  Fast forward through the rebranding of Google Apps for Domains as G Suite.  We early adopters get grandfathered in to the “Free Legacy” version without tech support.  New people in the royal guild have to pay per user. Both groups still give Google all the digital milk they have.   For Legacy accounts, not having support isn’t really a problem. The Google product help forums are a cesspools of idiot-experts who don’t read your problem description.

Now for the sinister part.  Google is subtracting features from G Suite users, even the ones who PAY THEM REAL ACTUAL MONEY. You might say, “Oh, They probably told you about it in advance though.” Try again.

As of approximately June 20th G Suite users can no longer rate or review apps they have downloaded to their Android devices.  The date is a fuzzy, because nobody knew about it. Plus there is still no official word from Google.  No mention in a a release notes somewhere, nothing in the ‘whats new for G Suite this month video’. Nothing.

Google silently removed a core feature of its app store from paying business customers.

Silently.

George Orwell 1984 style silently.  Only they couldn’t erase it from the public memory, because they just disabled it for G Suite users.  Anyone of those freeloading peasants with a Gmail account still gets to rate and review all they want.  Paying business users are the real peasants now.  So much for first class, I guess we get to ride with the luggage, because we no longer get a seat.

There are already 4+ threads on the impotent Google product help forums. Yet, Google has still not even acknowledged the issue.  So here we sit, complaining to the void. Waiting for our internet masters to deliver a message from on high.  Is there really a Google prophet left in the land?

Google builds a platform for users to tell them about problems with their services, but apparently just walks away after.  Perhaps they are just too big now to hear the voice of the users. Or, perhaps they simply no longer care about how we feel. We’ve put all their fancy hooks into our meat already.  Just the thought of leaving is now painful.

Here is the part where I tell you to rise up and cry out to your overlords. To declare to the world that the voice of the user will no longer be ignored.  However, I can’t. We’re all just waiting in the lobby at the DMV.  Everybody’s ticket says #1, but there isn’t anyone at the counter anymore.  There probably never was.

So what do we do?  What CAN we do? We can throw our weight around.  Money doesn’t talk anymore.  Ben Kingsley in Sneakers (1992) was right all along.  “It’s all about the information.”

Data talks, money walks

Vote with your data. It’s yours after all. “How?” you ask. Carefully, and with great personal pain. Have a look at these links so you see, and more importantly delete, the data google has collected from you.

  1. https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity
  2. https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols
  3. https://adssettings.google.com/authenticated
  4. https://myaccount.google.com/shared-endorsements
  5. https://plus.google.com/u/0/downgrade
  6. https://www.google.com/maps/timeline

Then you can start trying to find replacements for your current Google services.  Maybe I’ll write another post all about that.

Author: Phillip

Phillip is a dad of three boys married to a beautiful dedicated woman. An aspiring artist and science fiction author. He has been an IT professional for the past 15 years. He is currently working on a full-length sci-fi novel, but he also makes small drawings/watercolors for his school-age son's lunchbox and occasionally pretends to be a comedian. He also still struggles with putting two spaces at the end of sentences.