A a custom URL? Google Plus, you shouldn’t have

Seen this on your Google Plus profile page?

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 8.49.07 AM

We’ve preapproved some custom URLs for your profile”

My “custom” URL, for instance:

google.com/+JuliaWhitmore   youtube.com/c/JuliaWhitmore

Should we take them up on it?

Google Plus never made the grade as a competitor for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Heaven knows they tried. For awhile anyone with a Google account (gmail, YouTube, Zagat restaurant review, etc.) was required to create a Google Plus profile and account. Suddenly a user who wrote a restaurant review, for instance, might find that review linked to their Google Plus page, without their knowledge or permission.

This idea bombed for obvious reasons, and eventually Google stopped requiring that their customers have Google Plus accounts. Maybe discovering that enrollees only visited for about 3 minutes a month (compared to Facebook’s seven hours), contributed to the decision to loosen up.

Google Plus also got into trouble by requiring user’s real names. This was supposed to hold people accountable for online behavior. Facebook, who also has a real name policy, could have warned them otherwise. Anyway, GooglePlus customers who used pseudonyms were deactivated, including people like the Iranian activist Vahid Online, who’d been keeping his identity secret to keep from getting arrested. This led to much controversy and debate over people’s rights to control their online identity. Eventually the real name requirement was dropped, and hopes rose for a better reception. Not to be had. People did increase time spent — to about 7 minutes a month. A New York Times writer called it a Ghost Town.

Google Plus did not die, however. It has morphed into something called an Identity Service. It helps Google figure out who you are and what you like by merging the identities you create on, say Blogspot, YouTube and other services offered by Google. Forget helping you connect with others, this is purely a way to connect you with things to buy, and a way to boost Google’s revenues.

Creepy? No creepier than any of the other social media services. Remember Facebook’s secret experiments in manipulating people’s emotions?

So, what about the custom URL? The URL (Uniform Resource Locator), the name/info/address you use to connect to a website, helps anyone searching for your Google+ stuff or YouTube videos, if you post videos.

Check out Terms of Service. Google reserves the right to:

(1) take back your custom URL, and

(2) might start charging you for it in the future.

There you have it. Another (desperate?) move to woo us to Google Plus, but with little effort to hide the bait and switch. Should you take advantage of a Google Plus custom URL? Only if you don’t mind that it isn’t really yours, isn’t really custom, can be taken away at Google’s whim, and that you’ll probably be asked to pay for it in the future.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 2.04.42 PM

Am I wrong? Are you using a Custom Google+ URL? If you’re signed up for Google Plus, what do you think?


  • Yeah, I think I’ll pass.

    I’m on Google+, but I rarely use it. I’m not sure why I don’t use it more–I actually prefer it to Facebook. But there are only so many hours in the day, and I never seem to get there.

    As you point out, the creepiness extends everywhere. Drives me crazy when I buy something on Amazon only to see an ad for it or a similar product in my FB newsfeed ten minutes later!


  • Very informative.

    I was one of those people who didn’t sign up for anything Google & discovered I not only was attached to Google + but every other information source on the web that could, and did, plaster my address, a map to my house, and phone number on the web.

    The culprit was Linked-in, which I had joined at the behest of a trusted friend. It took no time to understand that it wasn’t a cite for me. It’s for people who want the location of their business available to anyone, complete with an arrow to their doorstep. The “link” to Google + was through an ancient gmail account I’d opened one time in case I needed it and it took days to look up each and every source that my information was sent to.


  • Thank you very much. I am pleased that I have stayed well clear of all this, and social media too. I just blog – write, blog, read, rinse and repeat. The simple life.


  • I’m on Google plus but it’s the last on the list of social media accounts that I check. There’s just too much and I guess I get the least out of Google plus. I didn’t even know about the custom url! 🙂


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