Don't see evil
October 8, 2018 10:52 AM   Subscribe

 
Well, shit.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:55 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


Can we get the + operator back in searches now, Google? Please?
posted by ardgedee at 10:57 AM on October 8 [107 favorites]


I was wondering how long it would take to ax that service. Google usually kills things off much faster, and Google+ has been limping along for years and years now.
posted by wires at 10:58 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Man, the last thing I posted there was in 2016, and that was just a "free bonus drawing points for posting this to social media!" thing. So I posted it to Google+ where I knew nobody would see it. Before that? 2013.

Fine job on your social media platform, Google.
posted by Kyol at 10:59 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Phooey. Now where do I go to?
I do have a Twitter account but nothing else. Facebook is unacceptable, and Instagram seems to be all about photos. Where is everybody going to migrate to?
posted by Nyrath at 11:00 AM on October 8


Mastadon

https://mastodon.social/
posted by I-Write-Essays at 11:01 AM on October 8 [19 favorites]


Nyrath, lots of Mefites are moving to Mastodon. Check the Metafilter wiki or search the site; I am not on there myself and don't know the details.
posted by wires at 11:02 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]




I couldn't care less about the SEO infested ghost town that is Google+ but Google being plagued by these security breaches is super worrying. Their security teams - Project Zero and others - are arguably some of the absolute best on the planet and if they can't keep Google's services secured, then what hope is there for other, less resource-y actors.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:04 AM on October 8 [30 favorites]


In case you didn't click through to the official blog post announcement by Google, note that they're also making changes to an Android-related API:
...Some Android apps ask for permission to access a user’s phone (including call logs) and SMS data. Going forward, Google Play will limit which apps are allowed to ask for these permissions....
posted by brainwane at 11:06 AM on October 8 [15 favorites]


Fine job on your social media platform, Google.

I thought it was. They built a great product; unfortunately, people didn't take to it. Maybe they were just too late.
posted by thelonius at 11:08 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


security isn't a fixed cost. Being bigger makes security harder. Smaller firms woukd have smaller security costs. And so it's not right to look at google and figurr they ought to have the resources. At every scale security is all about managenent having the political will to support those efforts even when they don't improve your bottom line in the short term. And at every scale, we lack that will because capitalism can't see the benefit. Privatize the profit, socialize the risk
posted by I-Write-Essays at 11:10 AM on October 8 [12 favorites]


Their security teams - Project Zero and others - are arguably some of the absolute best on the planet and if they can't keep Google's services secured, then what hope is there for other, less resource-y actors.

Project Zero is incredible. But Google has a huge attack surface. Other, less resource-y actors can take some solace in knowing that their own attack surface is probably smaller and (importantly) less interesting.
posted by Jpfed at 11:11 AM on October 8 [5 favorites]


I was wondering how long it would take to ax that service. Google usually kills things off much faster, and Google+ has been limping along for years and years now.

I think it was very difficult for Google to pull the plug because it meant abandoning the social layer of their entire platform. Like literally billions of people use their products every single day and Google can't create a decent social network to connect all those people? Must be very frustrating that with all their vast resources they can't even create something like Instagram or Reddit, two fairly simple products (compared to everything else Google does).
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:13 AM on October 8 [9 favorites]


I'm actually a little upset about this. I'm a big fan of tabletop RPGs, and there are several G+ communities which have formed around specific games or creators or parts of the hobby. I understand why it was probably on life support to begin with, but still, finding a new home for the communities and archived content and such is going to suck.
posted by Alensin at 11:14 AM on October 8 [22 favorites]


Fine job on your social media platform, Google.

I thought it was. They built a great product; unfortunately, people didn't take to it. Maybe they were just too late.


My impression was always that Google simply missed their moment and had a flawed rollout plan. Their product was fine, and a lot better than Facebook's contemporaneous offering in many ways. Facebook became a goliath because of the inadvertently brilliant way they rolled their platform out to progressively less demographically attractive social groups, starting with college students at elite universities and slowly broadening out to include everyone, their grandma and their crazy Aunt Sue. Facebook was perceived as the exclusive, hot new thing for years on end due to the rollout strategy.

Google+, by contrast, started with tech nerds and then completely lost their way once they got some nerds to use the platform.
posted by killdevil at 11:15 AM on October 8 [20 favorites]


Vic Gundotra (VP of Social at Google during the WannabeFacebook years) is now at AliveCor, making smartphone EKG apps. Why on earth would you hire someone from Microsoft to be your VP of Social, because they did a reasonable job at .NET evangelism?
posted by benzenedream at 11:19 AM on October 8


Yeah there was a weird week in March this year when the CISO of Twitter, the CISO of Facebook, and Google's Director of Information Security Engineering all resigned within a three day period. Not saying any of that is related...but it seemed a little odd then and maybe there was some "I don't really want to stick around for the hell that is about to descend on us" going on...
posted by inflatablekiwi at 11:23 AM on October 8 [9 favorites]


Let's not forget Google+ fucked up almost immediately with their bullshit real names policy, as well as requiring your gender choice to be public, which drove a number of early adopters off their platform (and iirc spurred the first wave statusnet adoption). It took them three years before they finally backed off. And remember when they required a Google+ account to comment on YouTube, because no one would ever think to be an asshole online if they had to use their real name? Yeah. G+ was a social network built by asocial people who lived in a bubble of privilege had no experience of the wider world. No tears here.
posted by phooky at 11:25 AM on October 8 [72 favorites]


My hazy recollection of a subject I didn't particularly pay attention to is that Google slowly dribbled out access to G+ to try and make it "cool and exclusive". What that actually ended up doing was, since no one could get on it while it was being talked about, it got filed in the "not useful to me" pile in most people's brain.
posted by haileris23 at 11:26 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Two big features that Google+ has that are not found on many other offerings are circles and communities. I've never figured out (or trusted) how Facebook manages that kind of selective visibility. I've started going back there because of the Ironsworn community, now I don't know where that will go. Reddit maybe?
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:29 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Google+ Circles were basically a reskinned version of Livejournal's privacy settings, which were correct and right and implemented twenty years ago. I remember very early on complaining on G+ about people giving Google credit for circles when they were just imitating LJ... only to get a wink emoticon from Brad Fitzpatrick, who they'd hired, in reply!
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:36 AM on October 8 [44 favorites]


Mastodon makes me feel like I did in 1999. Nice people having conversations and not just shouting at one another. I closed my Tw*tter account over a month ago as a protest over the Alex Jones BS, and decided I don't miss it and won't go back.

I follow back all MeFites: https://mastodon.social/@rickscully
posted by terrapin at 11:37 AM on October 8 [7 favorites]


Shutting Google+ down? Did not realize it was still open.
posted by AugustWest at 11:37 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Why on earth would you hire someone from Microsoft to be your VP of Social, because they did a reasonable job at .NET evangelism?

Gundotra was hired to be the head of mobile, or something that was not G+ at any rate. Once upon a time there was a "mobile" division at Google, before it was table stakes for every app to work on mobile devices. I mean, the dude joined before Android was released and years before anyone even conceived of Google+. He presumably did a good job at whatever that was and got promoted.
posted by GuyZero at 11:42 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


So, all three people who were using Google+ are affected?
posted by xedrik at 11:43 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


A timeline of the Google+ name policy debate, 2011-2014, from the Geek Feminism wiki.

Cory Doctorow's retrospective on G+ includes: "Googlers' bonuses were tied to their ability to integrate Google+ into every product Google offered..."

Oh, and Google Plus was the sequel to Google Buzz (which itself had serious privacy problems).
posted by brainwane at 11:43 AM on October 8 [5 favorites]


I'm mostly hanging out in Discord and Slack for my casual social these days, and Twitter for my more public-facing commentary. Mastodon killed all interest I had during the Wil Wheaton thing. Not kicking him off in itself -- I have no problem with social places setting their own consistent rules, it was the fact that it was 'oh, a bunch of people made fake reports, this is too much bother, I'm banning him' and then pretty much the same behavior with non-famous users over the deez nuts harassment. Basically made it clear that Mastodon was going to be subject to the sort of dogpile/harassment behavior that would make it an unpleasant environment in the long run. So the bad side of network effects and less of the good in terms of fewer interesting people than Twitter.
posted by tavella at 11:45 AM on October 8 [5 favorites]


Well, good riddens to bad rubbish.

I'd have no skin in this game except that 1) I don't sign up for social media that tries to force you to use your real name, and 2) I like to occasionally comment on Youtube videos. A while back, Google combined the G+ and Youtube comment systems and made it impossible to comment on YT without having a G+ account. And I dug my heels in like the mule I am and couldn't comment on videos (or even thumb up other comments) for a good long time.

The requirement went away a while back, but I was never completely sure if it really went away or if Google managed to slip a signup for G+ past me.

So, yeah, I'm sorry that G+ isn't around anymore for those who liked it, but I'm happy that it failed after Google pulled that crap.
posted by anthy at 11:45 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]


i do use it as login for apps like duolingo tho... i'm not too clear how i'll be affected yet.
posted by cendawanita at 11:45 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Can we get the + operator back in searches now, Google? Please?

They killed AOL Keywords, Google Edition ages ago, but never brought back + as the required operator, sadly.
posted by dragoon at 11:47 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Farewell, Freddie from Vermont who never stopped believing I was his nephew pulling his leg. Farewell, itchy guy I used to share a twin-sized cubicle with. Farewell, seventeen retirees with my last name who arrived from some genealogy group. Farewell, former poetry bloggers who found me from my former poetry blog and thought we should use this Google+ thing to be awful together in yet another place, another time, despite the wind in your grandmother's hair. Farewell, "Sunny O'Day" with the "Free Stock Photos!" watermark over your beautiful portrait. Farewell to all my faithful followers.

(I did not remember Google+ existed until this moment. I suppose I'll go delete that account. If it's still there.)
posted by pracowity at 11:47 AM on October 8 [18 favorites]


Google+ Circles were basically a reskinned version of Livejournal's privacy settings, which were correct and right and implemented twenty years ago. I remember very early on complaining on G+ about people giving Google credit for circles when they were just imitating LJ... only to get a wink emoticon from Brad Fitzpatrick, who they'd hired, in reply!

I'm in the fringe who still uses Dreamwidth, but as far as I can tell, the best way to get images into a Dreamwidth post is to use something like imgur and link it, which is just plain awful. Imzy had the communities thing down but went under because everyone ended up spread too thin.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:48 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]


They killed Reader to try to force people into Plus, which is why I always refused to use it. I am more concerned about the breach and lack of disclosure, though.
posted by dame at 11:51 AM on October 8 [30 favorites]


Not just the lack of disclosure but the whole - we aren't going to tell you because we don't want to be lumped in with facebook.

And Reader. Kids these days aren't even going to understand that google was cool. Once.

Related: I keep meaning to migrate off gmail. ug.
posted by zenon at 12:00 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


.
posted by sydnius at 12:06 PM on October 8


Can anyone explain to me why the real name policy was so bad? Is it that it was too heavy handed - i.e. people were required to use a legal name rather than a preferred name? Or is it that we all want to be anonymous online?

On the latter point, since 2016 I've been increasingly skeptical of anonymity on the internet. It's impossible to tell who is a real person with real points vs. who is a troll or FSB agent. Someone help me understand where my thinking goes wrong.
posted by fremen at 12:12 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Must be very frustrating that with all their vast resources they can't even create something like Instagram or Reddit

Isn’t that what YouTube is? Or was? YT actually used to have more social functionality, but Google took it away. Profiles were more “about me” MySpace-Friendster style back when it was more about people connecting with people than channels producing content.

And it really needs to be said every time: Google is capable of sucking every bit as much as Yahoo!, and then some. There’s nothing they can’t “improve” to death.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:13 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


It was a great resource for sharing tabletop rpg stuff. Sigh.
posted by tofu_crouton at 12:13 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


Bring back Orkut.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:23 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Meta: What is up with this new web publishing thing that if you scroll to the bottom of the article you get bumped to an entirely different page with no way to scroll back to where you were reading?
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:25 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


I still want Google Reader back, you son of a bitch!
posted by omegar at 12:33 PM on October 8 [53 favorites]


Bring back Orkut

Looks like Orkut created Hello?
posted by terrapin at 12:36 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


I am more concerned about the breach and lack of disclosure, though

To be technical, what has been stated is that there was a bug that would have allowed a breach but they (claim) that there's no evidence it having been exploited. I realize this seems like splitting hairs (and that you have to trust the claims of no sign of exploitation) but there is a vast difference between this and Cambridge Analytica and the inaccurate title of this post and sensationalistic first paragraph of the linked article are exactly why they were hesitant to disclose it at the time.

since 2016 I've been increasingly skeptical of anonymity on the internet. It's impossible to tell who is a real person with real points vs. who is a troll or FSB agent. Someone help me understand where my thinking goes wrong.

There is value in both anonymous and non-anonymous discourse. There's times it's good to require people to attach their names to what they say but there's plenty of other times that it's not (dissidents, oppressed minorities, people seeking help with embarrassing medical conditions, casual conversation boards like Metafilter). A lot of us say things here that we would defend if necessary but would prefer not to have to be exposed to family and coworkers, for example. I don't need the rabid Trumpist down the cubical hall deriding me in the break room for something I said here nor my parents to see what I've posted about their declining mental health.

We need to educate people on what's appropriate for each type of communication and how much trust to put into them, not try to force everyone to be fully exposed all the time.
posted by Candleman at 12:42 PM on October 8 [22 favorites]


I was an early proponent of G+. It seemed to me like the best bits of Facebook, Twitter, and Groups all mashed together. I really liked the circles concept and the way the interface worked (except the design, which was soulless and bland). But it was clear after a couple of months that it wasn't going to catch on except in niche areas - Facebook was just too entrenched.

And then Google attempted to force G+ down everyones throat which soured everyone to the whole thing. I am shocked it lasted this long.
posted by AndrewStephens at 12:42 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


We need to educate people on what's appropriate for each type of communication and how much trust to put into them, not try to force everyone to be fully exposed all the time.

Thanks. This is a topic that has been bugging me a lot lately, and I appreciate the perspective.
posted by fremen at 12:46 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Reader. After that debacle I realized that Google had gotten so big that parts of it did not talk to each other or its users, nor thought about the value proposition of Reader data for search, which meant search was no longer the priority but services instead. And those services not for researchers or students, the latest for me, the yanking of Research Tool from Google Pages; no notice and less functionality.

Before Google playing around with various tools and services seemed like exploration. Now, with a large graveyard of dead product it is now more an Agatha Christie novel with precarity for the user and a touch of desperation on their part.
posted by jadepearl at 12:48 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Can anyone explain to me why the real name policy was so bad?

A few reasons.

1. They claimed they would honor what people were known by, then rapidly rolled that back. The “nickname” function was nonsense and couldn’t be front loaded, making it useless for the purpose of accurate identification.

2. They rolled it out for existing email accounts and then started locking those accounts if enough people reported them. I ended up jettisoning my YouTube account because the changes meant I suddenly had a G+ account I didn’t want.

3. They rolled it out in the context of a backlash against Facebook for similar “real name” nonsense.

4. They rolled it out among geeks and techies, many of whom professionally went by their handles. A bunch of people got their accounts locked when they believed that using the name people knew them by was still being honored.

5. Their system flagged things that were too unusual, like foreign character first names with English last names, or people with too many names, or people with non-English names, or people with names made up of English words that weren’t typical. This led to a lot of people being flagged for their legal names because they weren’t enough White Anglo-Saxon Protestant for the algorithms.

6. A bunch of assholes hen decided anyone using a handle online was bad so they would hunt people down and report them.

7. G+ was tacked on to a ton of things, including email accounts, making them increasingly annoying and useless. I was particularly salty about the blogging and YouTube requirements. I ended up making up a few WASP identities and tying them to different email accounts for different purposes. Then they started trying to link up accounts through them being logged into from the same device or browser because they wanted to. This continues to annoy me.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:50 PM on October 8 [37 favorites]


Looks like Orkut created Hello?

ff_highfive.flv
posted by kdar at 1:08 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


I just checked and the only person to post in my G+ feed in the last two years is a Google employee that I know. It was actually a pretty well thought out platform, it just never had any reason to exist.
posted by octothorpe at 1:09 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Next up, can Google tackle the weird calendar spam problem? I don't know who the fuck thought it was a good idea to let total strangers not even in your contacts list add items to your personal calendar, but it's incredibly annoying, problematic and embarrassing to pop open my calendar and find it populated - again - with stupid porn cam spam. "Wait, did I forget an appointment with someone today? Who the fuck is Alyssa, and why is it tagged "Enjoying Alyss-" OHHHHH fucking hell delete all.
posted by loquacious at 1:10 PM on October 8 [13 favorites]


> Can anyone explain to me why the real name policy was so bad? Is it that it was too heavy handed - i.e. people were required to use a legal name rather than a preferred name? Or is it that we all want to be anonymous online?

You go by the username "fremen" on Metafilter, rather than by your full and legal name. If Metafilter adopted a real-name policy similar to those at Google+ or Facebook, your handle would not be permitted.

Many people prefer to function pseudonymously online in order to hide from harassers, avoid undeserved attention for their lifestyle, gender or sexuality, or to otherwise dissociate their personal life from their professional life. Advocates believe that personal control of your online handles (and control over their relationship to your legal identity) is a right that enhances privacy and individual rights.

The Wikipedia article about the Nymwars has a useful historical summary of the social media controversies.
posted by ardgedee at 1:19 PM on October 8 [21 favorites]


loquacious, I think I was able to kill that by changing my Calendar settings, I'll look around to see if I can figure out where I did it.
posted by tavella at 1:20 PM on October 8


You go by the username "fremen" on Metafilter, rather than by your full and legal name. If Metafilter adopted a real-name policy similar to those at Google+ or Facebook, your handle would not be permitted.

I fully appreciate the irony of the question and the format. But I had to ask because the problem has been on my mind, and this discussion coincidentally gave me an opportunity to better understand the concerns outside of my own perspective.
posted by fremen at 1:22 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Google+ might be the largest service that Google has killed and it certainly won't be the biggest ever.

Google is provably terrible at "product," which is taking programming projects and making them into something people want to use. In a grocery store this is called "merchandising." Couple this with the perverse incentives inside Google that always value "launching things" over "maintaining and/or improving things." People buy houses off this distinction once they learn how to play the game, continually moving from one launch to the next, where the things that have been launched are captainless ships foundering, eventually.

Search, Android, and Maps are pretty much the only things I allow myself to depend on from Google, and even then I already have contingencies so that all of them are replaceable to me.
posted by rhizome at 1:42 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


> But I had to ask because the problem has been on my mind, and this discussion coincidentally gave me an opportunity to better understand the concerns outside of my own perspective.

No worries, no attack was intended. Sorry for using you as an example, I should have used my own handle as an example, instead.
posted by ardgedee at 1:46 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


I still want Google Reader back, you son of a bitch!

My Pixel phone has a feed it shows you when you swipe to the right, but it's only news stories that Google thinks you might like. It's all algorithm-generated and the only way to customize it is by picking from a list of interests to better target you for advertisements. The fact you can see this "curated" list of news, but can't just give Google a list of RSS feeds to keep you up to date on is maddening.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:54 PM on October 8 [21 favorites]


One of my favorite arguments against real-name and related policies is this essay, "Growing apart and losing touch is human and healthy." For many of us, growing up includes growing apart in ways that are difficult if your entire life is searchable under your real name.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:54 PM on October 8 [16 favorites]


Good. It can't go soon enough. Redundant, clunky, and invasive.
posted by chance at 1:56 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Some folks are trying out Pillowfort, though I haven't yet tried it.

The Geek Feminism wiki has a "Who is harmed by a 'Real Names' policy?" list of groups.

GenderNullPointerException, have you tried using the built-in Dreamwidth image hosting?
posted by brainwane at 2:03 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


I still want Google Reader back, you son of a bitch!

Download Feedly and move on with your life. Reader was destined to die for lots of reasons, of which Google+ was only one.
posted by GuyZero at 2:11 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


GenderNullPointerException, have you tried using the built-in Dreamwidth image hosting?

I have, and find it comparatively cumbersome compared to other systems. Also, I find reading stuff on Dreamwidth unusable except using a desktop browser.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 2:13 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


The words breach and bug keep getting tossed around but it sounds more like it was by design until it became a huge liability.
posted by simra at 2:14 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


PillowFort is a complete mess. They've solicited a bunch of money through crowdfunding, but not nearly enough money to actually produce the product they think they're going to produce. They're trying to get devs to actually volunteer to help build it without actually making it open-source or anything, and they're using a front-end framework that's already out of date and their current bugs list suggests that QA is not even on their radar at this point. They're going to wind up with bigger problems than this if they attempt to scale, but I expect them to run out of money before they get that far.
posted by Sequence at 2:56 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Not only does Google shutter another product that people rely on (they are terrible about this, and customer service/care in general), they are acting like they are shuttering it because they screwed up and had a data breach (bad), which they also covered up (criminally bad)?

I know Google has been getting worse and worse, but this is Comcast-level.
posted by lubujackson at 3:22 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


One group that still uses Google+ some is the more corporate side of the Linux development community; Google marketed it to them as early adoptors/influencers, and many of them stuck. Probably there's public discussion that happened on there about technical descisions around but not directly affecting the Linux kernel, that's going to be lost unless the ArchiveTeam manages to save it. There are probably other such islands on Google+.

Anyway, I've never been convinced by Google's post-Snowden spin that their only problem involved their unencrypted intranet links, and now that we have a documented case of Google covering up privacy blunders, it's worth revisiting those Prism slides.
posted by joeyh at 3:38 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


I never fully understood what Google+ was for or what it did or how it worked or why it existed.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:39 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


I know Google has been getting worse and worse, but this is Comcast-level

Please someone at Google pitch it to Comcast as Comcast+ this is a thing that needs to happen
posted by benzenedream at 3:47 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


I kind of hate Google Plus but there are a lot of people there I really like because tabletop RPGs. The particular privacy and communication settings available have been very important to some people there and I hope they can find good alternative means of communication and connection (and I can follow them).

Much like would be the case if Facebook disappeared, I am glad it is happening in the big picture but very sad about the collateral damage happening to individuals because of it.
posted by edheil at 3:54 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Google is provably terrible at "product," which is taking programming projects and making them into something people want to use.

Well they did have a fantastic product in Google Finance but they had to revamp it into a useless piece of crap. It really was the best finance site in terms of information per pixel, readability and interaction. Now it is vapid and useless.
posted by Pembquist at 3:58 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Since the bug and subsequent security hole started in 2015 and was discovered in March before Europe’s GDPR went into effect in May, Google will likely be spared a 2 percent of global annual revenue fine for failing to disclose the issue within 72 hours.

I don't want to be all “how convenient”, but it's pretty weird that the European law allows still-relevant data breaches to be “grandfathered in”. It would be interesting to know whether Google lobbied for the insertion of that clause, and when they began to do so.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:14 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


My Pixel phone has a feed it shows you when you swipe to the right, but it's only news stories that Google thinks you might like. It's all algorithm-generated and the only way to customize it is by picking from a list of interests to better target you for advertisements.
I spent two years trying to rid that stupid feed of football stories. Saying I wasn't interested in football wasn't enough, no. I had to add NFL and college football and the names of every pro and dozens of college teams and a hundred individual players and it still showed me football news and even telling it what I remember as the Don't Show Me This Fucking Story button would remove the story as news and, on refresh, show it as *rising* news which for some reason was different than regular news in that filters didn't work on it. I couldn't just block all sports because I like pro basketball, but I got more football stories than basketball ones despite all my efforts to the contrary.

I'm back on iOS now. There were other reasons I switched but not having to see football every time was definitely one of them.
posted by Blue Meanie at 4:15 PM on October 8 [11 favorites]


I'm sure that I've hyped them before but Newsblur is a great RSS news reader. I've been using it ever since the demise of Reader.
posted by octothorpe at 4:20 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


Well they did have a fantastic product in Google Finance but they had to revamp it into a useless piece of crap. It really was the best finance site in terms of information per pixel, readability and interaction.

It was a lucky strike, and you'll notice they eventually returned to equilibrium.
posted by rhizome at 4:31 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Can anyone explain to me why the real name policy was so bad? Is it that it was too heavy handed - i.e. people were required to use a legal name rather than a preferred name? Or is it that we all want to be anonymous online?

it is an act of hateful aggression towards trans people who might not be able to legally change their name away from their deadname.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:14 PM on October 8 [13 favorites]


+

my god i miss that operator
posted by mwhybark at 5:20 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]


Cis people didn't pretend to care about trans people when Google+ debuted--it was about pseudonyms. Facebook's name policies are used to harass trans people (they're only enforced via people reporting others), but we were nary a blip at the time.
posted by hoyland at 6:09 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


turbid dahlia: I never fully understood what Google+ was for or what it did or how it worked or why it existed.

As near as I can figure, it was simply a matter of Google feeling threatened by Facebook's rise and wanting to counteract it somehow. Overall, I don't think they were wrong in identifying the problem: Facebook did turn out to be a legitimate player in internet advertising, the bulk of Google's business. If I'm not mistaken, the internet ad business is essentially split between Google and FB with everybody else being relatively small potatoes.

Where they went wrong was, well, almost everything else. First off, to go after an entrenched competitor like FB on their home turf by essentially creating your own clone is, at best, ill-advised. At the same time, I don't think G+ was actually a bad product, per se. In a lot of ways, I think it was a better product than FB (e.g.: they launched with fine-grained permissions control via their "circles" a few milliseconds before FB had the same capability). But, they never gave anyone any particular reason to use it. It seemed like they were going to try to rely on some kind of forced platform lock-in via Gmail and YouTube to get their numbers up. But, while you could try to total up those numbers of logged in Gmail and YouTube users into the G+ column, there was nothing they could really do to force people actually use G+ itself.

Meanwhile, after the last FB data breach but before this current G+ thing, satirical internet site, The Babylon Bee had this article: Google Plus Hacked, Exposing Data Of All 19 Users.
posted by mhum at 6:09 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


Google is provably terrible at "product," which is taking programming projects and making them into something people want to use. In a grocery store this is called "merchandising." Couple this with the perverse incentives inside Google that always value "launching things" over "maintaining and/or improving things."

Literally every single product manager working at Google should be fired tomorrow, except possibly for some of the ones working on the back end of the ads business. They are all obviously terrible at their jobs, or else their jobs have been so circumscribed and crippled that they have no choice but to fail.

...and the perverse promo/bonus incentive to "launch" and to also demonstrate "technical complexity" just doubles down on the idiocy. They're straight up paying people to create unnecessary projects that are unduly complex.

It's genuinely amazing that the company manages to produce anything of value whatsoever.
posted by aramaic at 6:11 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


(Also, I know I'm a one person campaign on this issue, but can we please not use "dead name" in reference to the names of people other than oneself, without knowing their preferences, especially if you are cis. You don't get to decide if someone else "died".)
posted by hoyland at 6:14 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


sure, no problem.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:35 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


My Pixel phone has a feed it shows you when you swipe to the right, but it's only news stories that Google thinks you might like. It's all algorithm-generated and the only way to customize it is by picking from a list of interests to better target you for advertisements. The fact you can see this "curated" list of news, but can't just give Google a list of RSS feeds to keep you up to date on is maddening.

Algorithmically generated off your search history so be damn sure you don't ever search for anything you are one-time curious about unless you want to be haunted by it until you tell google you are not interested in it.

And the topics are tad stupid. Like "you searched for a restaurant". Let me give you all the restaurant news we have. From all newspapers all over the country. Want to stop this? You can say you are not interested in restaurants or you can disavow interest in that particular newspaper from a city you don't live in. And repeat this until you have eliminated all non-local newspapers.

The people behind this are either google smart but real world dumbasses or they are just assholes who have contempt for their users. At first I thought it was the former but lately I am leaning to the latter.
posted by srboisvert at 6:40 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]


Literally every single product manager working at Google should be fired tomorrow

I wouldn't go that far, but whoever is their leadership is definitely a failure. I imagine a lot of their product managers are positively itching to do something well, pace policy.

It's genuinely amazing that the company manages to produce anything of value whatsoever

They do: AdWords. However, I'm starting to think that everything else produced by Google is just busywork to maintain brand awareness.
posted by rhizome at 6:43 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


My particular irritation with Google was that for a few minutes they had a standalone product called Places, which was a reasonable substitute for Yelp (which was already notoriously evil at the time) in terms of being able to look up location and reviews for various business types in a given area. Then they decided they should compress it into Maps, which made it exceedingly annoying to look up particular things. So I'm back stuck with Yelp.
posted by tavella at 7:10 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Can anyone explain to me why the real name policy was so bad?

I'm a little late to this party but since I go by my real name on every web site I use, I thought I could give a little perspective.

I was born in the late 70s so I grew up and into computer use in the BBS and then early internet days, probably like a lot of people here. I had a handle on BBSes and almost no one knew my real name. On the internet I had an email address but it was 2 letters and 2 numbers, assigned sequentially by our university (who made that decision, so weird. Anyway). So I enjoyed anonymity for about 10 years of online activity.

At about that time I decided that although being anonymous made me more free, I often used that freedom to talk to people in ways that I didn't actually like. Too quick to be flippant, sarcastic, irritated, and mean. And I saw that in a lot of other people too. I decided to use my real name, and to assume that anyone who wanted to could search and find everything I wrote using that name. I tried not to write anything that would make my parents sad or mad. (I have pretty tolerant parents, but still). It mostly worked. My online persona is somewhere between my real life way of speaking and what I'd be if I was really anonymous.

It is not without it's cost and I would never want to force it on anyone. I can do it because I'm a privileged person - someone who has enough security that I don't have to worry about being found, or my words used against me, etc.

There have been many times when I wanted to interact with people online but couldn't, because I'd have to reveal things about myself or other people who would be identifiable to do it. In some extreme cases I used sock puppets, such as here on metafilter and askme, or I'd use PMs. But mostly I just kept quiet. This has been especially hard in the #metoo era. It's not my right to unveil other people just because I've chosen it for myself.

I am really, really, really glad that I was anonymous up to the age of about 25. Actually I think that pseudo anonymity is really important for young people. I think it's OK for maybe your peer group to know who you are, but man, the future should not be able to mine your childhood for dumb shit you said/did. Seal those records.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:27 PM on October 8 [12 favorites]


They do: AdWords. However, I'm starting to think that everything else produced by Google is just busywork to maintain brand awareness.

Note that despite publishing the paper on MapReduce and GFS in 2004, the F1 and Spanner papers make it clear that before 2012, Google was still running AdWords on MySQL clusters. So, it's more like everything else is just beta testing for their new AdWords tech stack.
posted by pwnguin at 8:38 PM on October 8


Google+, by contrast, started with tech nerds and then completely lost their way once they got some nerds to use the platform.--killdevil

The problem is that it was designed for nerds.

Despite many here thinking it has (had) great features, I thought its many features could be confusing (and I'm a nerd!).

One of the reasons Facebook is successful is because of the very simple and limited way you can use it, unlike it's failed predecessor Myspace. A social network site is only successful if lots of people are on it. You don't have to think to use Facebook, so your Grandmother and Aunts will use it (no offense intended for your particular Grandmother/Aunt). The lack of 'circles' and many ways configure it is actually a major Facebook advantage. (It goes to my running theory that Google has too many PhDs, and needs to have some job categories that you wouldn't be able to get hired to if you passed a technical knowledge test).

Many features that Google thought were advantages for Google+ were really disadvantages for its populist success.
posted by eye of newt at 9:21 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Google was still running AdWords on MySQL clusters

The Ads side of things is vastly more complicated than that. It's terrifyingly complex; even tiny parts run on a surprising number of systems. Seriously. Small features are running on systems so complex they take a skilled developer four to six months to understand (understanding being here defined as the point where you understand enough that you can ramp up a new hire by yourself).
posted by aramaic at 9:30 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


terrapin: "Looks like Orkut created Hello?"

That was Lionel Richie.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:01 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


Oh hey, a Google+ thread! That means I get to reference one of my favourite MetaFilter comments ever, written by jquinby way back in 2013...
No one comes any more, except the old man who gathers the tamarind pods to sell in the market.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:13 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Like several of you, I'm interested in pen&paper RPGs, and discovered that there are several lively groups active on G+. Thing is, I discovered this literally two weeks ago. Oh, well...
posted by Harald74 at 1:36 AM on October 9


Can anyone explain to me why the real name policy was so bad?

One reason is that they forced it on previously existing email accounts and removed the ability to get back into them if you didn’t remember the “name” you associated with them - which, back in the day, was always some random bullshit you wouldn’t remember in a thousand years. Thus making many accounts permalocked.
posted by corb at 4:57 AM on October 9


since 2016 I've been increasingly skeptical of anonymity on the internet

[the requirement of] Using your real name does not help build anonymity, so I understand any amount of skepticism you might have.
posted by filtergik at 5:14 AM on October 9


Mr.Encyclopedia: "I still want Google Reader back, you son of a bitch!

My Pixel phone has a feed it shows you when you swipe to the right, but it's only news stories that Google thinks you might like. It's all algorithm-generated and the only way to customize it is by picking from a list of interests to better target you for advertisements. The fact you can see this "curated" list of news, but can't just give Google a list of RSS feeds to keep you up to date on is maddening.
"

I searched on the lyrics for the John Prine song "Dear Abby" last week after the thread about him on the Blue and ever since, the Dear Abby column has been showing up in my Google Now feed.
posted by octothorpe at 5:22 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Goodbye, the thing the killed Reader to promote.

Download Feedly and move on with your life. Reader was destined to die for lots of reasons, of which Google+ was only one.

Yeah, get on with your own life.

Google Reader was unrestricted in its free form. I've heard people say that paying for feed reader services is, in fact, a good thing, because it won't get shut down. Well, Reader wasn't shut down for not bringing in income, it was shut down to drive people to Google Plus. Anyway, some of us cannot afford a recurring monthly charge just to stay abreast of websites. I've tried the free version of all of them, and they all, ALL have something lacking. Further, Reader had a small but dedicated community around it that Google completely rejected. And RSS' relative decline these days can probably be tied, ultimately, to Reader's shutdown.

All of this is something I've said before. I don't pretend it'll change anyone's mind, but I feel it should be said here, just to remind people.
posted by JHarris at 5:33 AM on October 9 [17 favorites]


I don't know that real names do all that much to discourage bad behavior, take Tovalds as an example, although before he came along there was lots of well-documented nasty behavior on academic mailing lists. So the great internet fuckwad theory is woefully incomplete.

Currently there are plenty of contexts where I use my real name that I don't want to bleed into other contexts, at least not without my explicit control. "Don't talk about sex, politics, or religion at the dinner table," is a rule for family gatherings while real problems of who shows up to keep the bedpans clean are on the table. And now that doxing has become a common way of escalating online disagreements, having those firewalls in place give me some control over how disclosure happens.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:47 AM on October 9


It's not that I'm hiding much at this point, and I've put on a lot of work over the last two years to ensure that I'm hiding less. But it's important to me to have those conversations on my terms, rather than through an algorithmic search box or because some person got pissed off that I used "biphobia" in a post and decided to dox me.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:59 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Further, Reader had a small but dedicated community around it that Google completely rejected.

This. Like yes, RSS feeds still (sorta) exist. But for a shining moment, Google Reader was how I made friends with my friends' friends who shared my interests and found me great links and feeds to follow. None of the replacement feed readers had this feature when I last looked and the community was broken into pieces anyways. This is partly what I use Twitter for now, but that place has its own problems and is less amenable to finding weird amateurs' ongoing projects.

Reader was really the best of the Internet and it's shitty it was destroyed for business reasons — not even allowed to zombie along. Much like Google started Inbox to undermine Mailbox, which Dropbox then shut down, and now that the competition is dead, Google is closing down, leaving us with one less option. Capitalism, man.
posted by dame at 6:39 AM on October 9 [5 favorites]


This is really an enormous blow to a whole lot of tabletop RPG communities. A whole lot of creativity over the years is likely to go 404.
posted by Zed at 8:02 AM on October 9 [5 favorites]


One thing that I really loved about G+ was the various communities dedicated to specific RPGs.
I got my Fate Core, Fate Accelerated, Call of C'thulhu and other RPG needs and discussions really well met.

Ironically, there is now a G+ RPG group dedicated to discussing how to migrate away from G+.
Most people seem to me heading to mewe.com.
I'm there.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 8:27 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]




Metafilter: We're still pissed about Google Reader.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:50 AM on October 9 [10 favorites]


And don't get me started about the Peasants' Revolt of 1381.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:41 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


This might be too broad a comment for this particular thread on google+ finally dying, but I think it's been percolating in my brain since the last mastodon thread. The problem with social networks today is that they are public by default and that they are not social (and they won't get off my damn lawn).

You now what ruled? Chat rooms. That's what I'd like any new up and coming social network to be. Everything is private by default. You have one room where your friends can chat and it's always private. Public rooms exist and they're just a shitshow like any public thing space anywhere. Away messages instead of a timeline. Not even sure if I'd want commenting on public stuff to be a thing. Maybe if someone posts publicly in a chat/timeline/message/whaterver, I can comment on it but I control exactly who sees it. And the privacy level of any conversation is whatever the highest level by anyone in that conversation decides, so you can't re... uh... chat? my comment publicly (yes I know screenshots will always exist).

Anyway, I think this rant is the thing that finally made me feel old. Bring back Yahoo! Chat Rooms dammit!
posted by runcibleshaw at 11:22 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


@runcibleshaw: MeWe groups have both boards AND a chat. It's kind of nice. Discussion and Fluff goes in the chat, keeper articles get posted to the board.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:30 AM on October 9


Can anyone explain to me why the real name policy was so bad?

Aside from all the other excellent reasons given above, having my real name attached to online comment would mean that I could not participate here or on other sites.

I have a role in a public, uh, organization that occasionally causes me to have to discuss my research in public. Work I've been implicated in has been included in dozens of posts here over the years, for example. I am also a designated point of contact for my organization, which carries with it some trust and expectation for judgement. Officially, it has the potential to be awkward for me if my comments here were taken out of context or used in bad faith. Again, there are actors out there who might realistically chose to do so, either in the press or in court.

Now I try hard to say nothing directly on topics where my responsibilities overlap with discussion here, and I have a few bright line rules for myself to not borrow trouble. If someone does "out" me, I don't think it will be all that big a deal, but it might well result in me being told to stop participating in social media all together. It all depends on the "management" of our "organization", as they switch up every four years or so. We're now in a period where the controls are much less rigid than they were even a couple of years ago.

But without the somewhat transparent fig leaf of the pseudo identity here (which predates all of the above for the most part), I likely would have stopped. I'm hardly unique either. Most school teachers I know have similar problems. Privacy is a pretty big deal to me, especially because of the examples that have been made of a number of my colleges over the years.

I will not join Quora, for example, for this reason. I use neither Facebook nor Google+ either for social media or for OpenID either. I don't want my tiny role in public life to potentially ever touch on my opinions on how to make soup or Marvel vs DC or the best way to design lights in a bathroom renovation. It's tidier that way.
posted by bonehead at 12:44 PM on October 9 [7 favorites]


i dunno if we really need any more social media besides MeFi, i could live out the rest of my days here
posted by numaner at 1:10 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


According to legend, right from the start, the general feedback from other Googlers was that the design of Plus was flawed, and many shared good ideas about how it could be fixed. Management responded by locking down access to the Plus building so the team could work in isolation. That is a strange way to build a social network.
posted by w0mbat at 1:17 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


i dunno if we really need any more social media besides MeFi, i could live out the rest of my days here
posted by numaner at 1:10 PM on October 9 [2 favorites +] [!]


And so we shall, Sam, here at the end of all things
posted by mwhybark at 4:56 PM on October 9 [7 favorites]


Like others here, I was an active tabletop games g-plusser. I always imagined there were other tightly knit hobby groups ensconced there, maybe model train people or amateur astronomers, but I've never heard of any.

My individually-curated slice of G+ was a fantastic community, far more diverse than your usual tabletop game forum. One of my friends there is lamenting that her circle of 400+ non-cisdude gamers, years' worth of curation, will shortly become useless as folks migrate away. The triple-C combination of collections, communities, and circles really let a person define the boundaries of their social media experience, and those features were key to a lot of marginalized folks I know.

Over the past ~7 years I wrote tons of stuff on G+ about tabletop games alongside tons of low-filter stuff about real life. When I hit some gnarly family drama one year that put me in a spiral, it took me about ten minutes to create a direct support collection with the right people subscribed to it, and those people got me through some shit that needed getting through. I would never ever seek that kind of support on Facebook.

Facebook was for acquaintances I wish were strangers, G+ was for strangers I hoped to befriend. I'll miss it and its demise makes me sad.
posted by Sauce Trough at 5:44 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


Google+, by contrast, started with tech nerds and then completely lost their way once they got some nerds to use the platform.

Not really. G+ was one of the few top-down projects that Google did at that time. Google mostly allowed the engineers to start projects, and then gave them more backing if they looked interesting. With G+, management came in and said, Thou wilt build a better Facebook. Huge numbers of people were transferred off other projects and moved to this new thing that no one was asking for.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:16 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


Not sure if I'm helping or not @Sauce Trough, but evidently you can export all your G+ data.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 3:17 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


So the CEO of MeWe had a minor meltdown on Twitter, ranting about the "Communists running Facebook". This had reduced the enthusiasm for at least some game communities to migrate there.

Still, MeWe seems to be the main choice for the G+ Gaming groups. More private discussing crops seem to be heading toward Plusporia and Slack. A few like me are heading towards Dreamwidth. Nobody seems to be masochistic enough to deal with Mastodon.

None of the other groups seem to fill all the things we're losing when G+sits down. The diaspora is going to leave a huge hole in the LGBTQ and gaming communities.
posted by happyroach at 10:40 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


So the CEO of MeWe had a minor meltdown on Twitter, ranting about the "Communists running Facebook". This had reduced the enthusiasm for at least some game communities to migrate there.

Yeah, after settling in and looking at this joint (MeWe), I'm still going to have one eye on the door in case things get bad/weird.

This is also the guy who had a meltdown over Twitter suspending James Woods.

JAMES WOODS.
Like I said, I've got one eye on the door.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:55 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Maybe he just really respects his craft in The Onion Field.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:33 PM on October 10


eye of newt: You don't have to think to use Facebook, so your Grandmother and Aunts will use it (no offense intended for your particular Grandmother/Aunt).

Can we please not use older women as a conversational stand-in for 'people who aren't tech-savvy'? That would be great. Older women helped create the computing world as it exists today.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:37 PM on October 21 [5 favorites]


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