Google+ Suspends Pixeleen Mistral – Nerfs Data Liberation Front

by Pixeleen Mistral on 17/07/11 at 2:07 am

Exactly who owns my G+ social graph - and why won't Google let me download it anymore?

I was a relatively early Google+ user and spent the last few weeks adding friends to Google+ circles. In doing this I implicitly promoted Google's seriously over-hyped circle-centric Facebook clone by sending invitations to friends. This was probably a mistake - but I was curious to see if Google's algorithm-driven data mining culture could cope with running an MMO -- and an online culture that embraces the meta-game of duel-to-the-death by abuse report.

get suspended on Google+ -  lose access to GMail

For those with certain tastes, Google's new game is appealing if you don't mind risking the loss of your identity, e-mail and social graph as part of the gameplay. I'm sure the griefers and vigilantes will have a great time playing. How well this will work for serious business is another story.

After the Google Lively fiasco, I had little confidence Google would get social right - despite promises to be less evil than Facebook. Now that I have personally experienced Google's rough justice - my Gmail and Google+ accounts have been suspended and I am blocked from downloading a copy of my Google+ friends - I am pretty sure that a rousing game of hunt-the-fake account will help make up for the lack of familiar Facebook favorites like Farmville, particularly for those who enjoy a full-contact cross platform MMO.

It appears Google's Data Liberation Front  goes missing just when you most need it most. The screenshot below shows several successful exports of my Google+ contacts - but that ended today.

no contacts
Data Liberation Front can no longer locate my contacts
no data liberation
kiss your contacts list goodbye: no data liberation once you have been suspended

Unfortunately for Google's ambitions in the social space, the death to fake people game may alienate exactly those real people that Google so desperately needs to succeed against mighty Mark Zuckerberg's privacy loss desensitization operation. How can you be sure who is real online?

The fake people game began in earnest with a Google engineer reportedly suggesting abuse report vigilante action against suspected enemies of the real people in Google+. A wave of account suspension followed.

Andrew Bunner
Andrew Bunner call for vigilante action against fake people - is Mr. Bunner for real?

But does Google have the staff to carefully review the disputed G+ account suspensions? What will stop troublemakers from filing mass frivolous abuse reports against the sort of game god-fearing real people that Google seems to be courting?

For those who have not yet played, my experience may help you decide if you are interested in risking your mail, identity and social graph by playing the Google+ MMO.

This morning I woke to find my Gmail account locked due to  unspecified "suspicious activity" on the account. When I logged in this afternoon I found my Google+ profile was suspended,  presumably because I have been accused of being a "fake person" and/or some civic minded vigilantes are working their way through Google+ reporting accounts they hope to see banned. I noticed that my old friend Kalel Venkman of the Justice League Unlimited still has a working Google+ profile - presumably because his profile picture looks like superman and he is one of the good guys.

Kalel Venkman - a real person or flagrant Google+ community standards violator?

I was able to re-establish control of my mail after visiting the Gmail web site and entering a verification code sent to my cell phone. On Google+, the best I could do was ask that my suspension be reviewed - but there was no place to explain why Google might deem my account real enough to retain. I imagine there are some seriously overworked game moderators stuck in a basement somewhere in the Googleplex trying to decide what to do with a flood of disputed suspension - a flood which is likely to grow as more players join the game.

The parallels between Google+ and sort of game god "justice" seen in Second Life are uncanny. In most MMOs, players can loose their assets at the whim of the platform moderators. In the social space, the most valuable asset imaginable is your contacts list, and I find that  I'm now blocked from downloading my formerly thriving social network - despite Google promises of Data Libertation.

Two days ago I had about 120 friends in my G+ circles and was in about 180 other people's circles. Today I can't see anyone who has me in their circle and my friends list is less than half the size it was previously. Does this mean that half of Google+ accounts are really the sort fake people that we are all meant to report to the authorities?

I can see why Google says G+ is not ready for business - imagine the chaos when the anonymous hacktivists decide to mass report G+  account of an organization that drank the "Don't Be Evil" Koolaide and placed an all-in bet on the Google cloud. The sort of federated social network suggested by Open BuddyCloud and Diaspora just keeps looking better and better.

34 Responses to “Google+ Suspends Pixeleen Mistral – Nerfs Data Liberation Front”

  1. Miso Susanowa

    Jul 17th, 2011

    I just deleted my SL Circle from Google + so as not to be a trailing lead/informant on other avatarians.

    I think all this is great. I’ve gone through it before with Hotmail, Yahoo, Geocities and a ton of other “free” services since 1995. I guess once in each generation the corporatocracy can’t resist showing its Darth Vader side. It’s great; it wakes people up.

    It gets them informed about what the internet really is (a new communications platform accessible to all), why it is a critical issue (free press), starts them asking why, if all these hacking and breeching and compromising data headlines keep apppearing, why we don’t have end-to-end encryption on sensitive personal information despite that being the most sensible and secure answer, and maybe gets them curious enough to read the founders of the net like Vint Cerf, John Perry Barlow, Tim Berners-Lee and others and realize the Internet is not a one-way push broadcast medium like radio and tv as the media barons would like people to think, reducing the net to just another soap-selling machine.

    Thx for this post.

  2. hobo kelly

    Jul 17th, 2011

    we all sit around like a Cargo Cult waiting for something new and interesting and somewhat profound to materialize here in the pages of the Herald. for months we do our best to create large lulzy sand drawings, in our minds anyway, in hopes that it will show those silvery ships that glint in the afternoon sun the way home to our pages here. and now that the saucer full of secrets has landed, what comes sliding out? Google+ toasting off fake accounts ala Facebook. sigh. the aliens still dont know how evil most people and social networking really are if they think this is important…

  3. James Freud

    Jul 17th, 2011

    Nothing happened in SL this week?

  4. Mr Fustachio

    Jul 17th, 2011

    I guessing you had to submit your profile for resubmission, I was unsure because most people who’ve been suspended are playing the silence game for bonus popularity points, and not letting us in on what techniques and ways there are to maintain some form of privacy and still get accepted back on the network.

    It’s like the sheep got sent to be culled and offered salvation by the barn door being left open, but are unable to comprehend their fate and walk single file into the meat grinder.

    I would have liked Opensource Obscure to have followed though on the procedure and not appear to deliberately avoid it to get tat to turn on the yellow journalism fosset.

    Maybe you don’t see it but I only see Tat playing the mystery rage game and being elusive with facts, as if OO is the martyr we should lick boot for fear of upsetting the natives.

    The fact they seem to think it’s acceptable to attack G+ staff like they do LL staff is not out of character for such residents, perhaps it’s misplaced animosity because of the FB cull and because G+ staff are easier to target.

    But it’s unacceptable behaviour and is not helping anyone’s image or the cause that has been razed, one that is not only centered on Second Life issues but in the same scope of what people want.

    Second Life residents are a tiny minority of perhaps 1500-2000 and that’s exaggerated at most, on a massive network that claims to have 10million accounts and of which I would say 750,000 are truly active.

    What right as Will Burns to threaten Google+ staff with the sort of fall out like Buzz but from SL residents? what right has Wagner James Au and other big headed wash outs to speak on behalf of SL residents? and presume he has any sway with a mega corp?

    Popular and semi-respected sure but not an elected representative surely not in my name or in others.

    And especially to attempt asking them for pure SL type accounts, when Google has given enough rope to craft yourself a profile without being banned, and SL is making their own which smells like him going off on a crusade in an effort to make sure Google ban SL people, so he gets Cookies from his new buddy Rodvik.

    I trust AH’s motives more than I do these types of SL people with it’s fun but serious take on this situation, at least an interesting read and not twisted and overtly blown out of proportion with vomit inducing ego tripping stupidity.

    Keep raising that flag Pixeleen! well just not the report profile one.

  5. Yep

    Jul 17th, 2011

    This is just plain silly of Google. This really adds to my warm and fuzzy feeling about the spokesman for google saying within a year people will do away with credit/debit cards and use a google app to replace them on their smart phones.
    Could you picture being low on gas in the middle of no where and google deletes your account that you make these purchases with?
    No thanks… I’ll stick to what i know lol.

  6. IntLibber

    Jul 17th, 2011

    For some reason i am unsurprised that fake person kalolz still has an active account, i’m sure he’s one of the ones going after people he doesnt like, believing absolutely that he is ‘doing good’ by interfering in the “communication channels” of “e-terrorists” and “e-terrorist sympathizers” like Pix. Keep up that failed war on e-terror, Kalolz, you are doing a fantastic job discrediting the entire concept.

  7. Sarge Misfit

    Jul 17th, 2011

    You mean there are fake people out there? Oh noes!!!!

    I always did prefer G-strings to G+.

    Is a FaceBook anything like a FacePalm?

  8. [...] Second Life avatar, was recently suspended by Google+. She posted an article in Alphaville Herald, Google+ Suspends Pixeleen Mistral – Nerfs Data Liberation Front. This article should give all Google users pause. Pixeleen was blocked from Google+ and Gmail. [...]

  9. Kee Hinckley

    Jul 17th, 2011

    FWIW, I made the profile on my “fake” account (which I’m obviously not going to list here) a detailed biography of why I am known by that name. Website references, how many people I interact with only using that identity, and a scan of some association memberships in that name. Not everyone would be so lucky to be able to do that, whether or not it will actually do me any good, but I figured it might forestall an attack. In the meantime, I try not to publicly comment using that profile. Annoying as hell.

  10. Resident

    Jul 17th, 2011

    Facebook has always had a “dick-move” stance on Second Life citizens…did we honestly think G+ wouldn’t mirror the very same stance?

    G+ wants to own you and your data, just like Facebook does. They don’t want to own just as much ‘fake’ data as real data…because then they wouldn’t be able to properly spam you and/or sell your data.

  11. Vagabond 'Tony' Carter

    Jul 17th, 2011

    I cannot help but think you’ve made an error here Pix, and that error is assumption.

    You said yourself your account was suspended for “Suspicious activity”.

    “This morning I woke to find my Gmail account locked due to unspecified “suspicious activity” on the account.”

    You also failed to mention the wording on the profile suspension note that “.. we determined that some of the posted content (eg. text, images) violates our Community Standards”

    That, according to the article here, is the only information provided you by Google.

    The rest is pure assumption and guesswork.

    “When I logged in this afternoon I found my Google+ profile was suspended, presumably because I have been accused of being a “fake person” and/or some civic minded vigilantes are working their way through Google+ reporting accounts they hope to see banned.”

    You present no proof of this presumption, and have none. However like any good tabloid writer you let the conspiracy be the proof while you sell the tinfoil hats.

    You then leave the initial focus , redirecting onto Kalel to sell more tinfoil hats. Worse, you seem to be hoping and or supporting criminal actions:

    “imagine the chaos when the anonymous hacktivists decide to mass report G+ account of an organization that drank the “Don’t Be Evil” Koolaide and placed an all-in bet on the Google cloud.”

    Let me offer you an alternative possibility for the reason for your suspension, based of course, on your own words here.

    “Two days ago I had about 120 friends in my G+ circles and was in about 180 other people’s circles. Today I can’t see anyone who has me in their circle and my friends list is less than half the size it was previously. Does this mean that half of Google+ accounts are really the sort fake people that we are all meant to report to the authorities?”

    It might, but it may also mean that a number of the people you added responded by blocking you or had chosen to drop Google+ (I did both of these actually).

    Now, if a large percentage of added contacts blocks the adder in very shorty order after being added. The adder, by the numbers, looks like a spammer… and yes, this is “suspicious activity”.

  12. Dave Bell

    Jul 17th, 2011

    It does look as though Google is playing hardball on identities.

    It seems that they are horribly confused by the distinction between a label and an identity. I am pretty sure that no sensible variation on my formally-documented name is globally unique.

  13. Pappy Enoch

    Jul 18th, 2011

    Don’t worry Miss Pix.

    Ol’ Barney Google am a city boy and a first-rate wimp. He ain’t got nuffin’ on Snuffy Smith. Now when that hillbilly starts him up a social network, it’ll be “y’all come…but pay up first.”

    He won’t give a ding-dang damn if’n you am named Rootboy Slim and has yo’self 2 heads an’ a venerable disease if’n you gots enuff long green to pony up.

  14. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Jul 18th, 2011

    Never used Myspace.
    Never used Facebook.
    Never used Twitter.
    Never going to use Google+ either.

    All for fucking faggots.

  15. IntLibber

    Jul 18th, 2011

    Alyx, glad to see someones not changing for all this 21st century web 3.0ism…

  16. pixdontgetit

    Jul 18th, 2011

    After reports left and right that Google will suspend any non real accountnames… you seem surprised you got booted off Google+?

    Thats like being surprised you got banned from sl after trying to get into a Linden’s pants in a child avatar.

  17. paul

    Jul 18th, 2011

    What about penicillin? or internal combustion engines? are they for fucking faggots too?

  18. Tux

    Jul 18th, 2011

    Time to ditch G+, an alternative is coming:

  19. Reader

    Jul 18th, 2011

    “Time to ditch G+, an alternative is coming:

    Right! Like that is going to catch on as a replacment.

  20. Vagabond 'Tony' Carter

    Jul 18th, 2011

    An anonymous social networking service, kinda defeats it’s own purpose does it not?

    Anonymous would like to add Anonymous as a friend , will you (Anonymous) accept? y/n (please note your response will be kept anonymous)

  21. Vagabond 'Tony' Carter

    Jul 18th, 2011

    You are logged in as : Anonymous
    if this is not you please log out then back in
    (logins will be kept anonymous)

  22. Paul

    Jul 18th, 2011

    @carter. Yeah, it seems unworkable.
    “hey anonymous, are you going to the party next saturday??”
    “sorry you, must have the wrong anonymous, I know nothing about this party”
    “ohh sorry, who are you then?”
    “oooohhhh so am I!!”

    Also, they would have to make a rule: any account that has an actual name, that is not ‘anonymous’ will be deleted. But aren’t they anarchists that aren’t supposed to have rules??? it is so confusing. Maybe those of us who are not “fucking faggots” can figure all this out.

  23. Yep

    Jul 19th, 2011

    “Thats like being surprised you got banned from sl after trying to get into a Linden’s pants in a child avatar.”

    Like Blondin Linden dancing with his junk hanging out with a child avatar at the Zindra opening celebration.

  24. Vagabond 'Tony' Carter

    Jul 19th, 2011

    Anarchy fails the moment two cars meet in an intersection.

  25. FFS

    Jul 19th, 2011

    @Paul :
    Comparing penicilin and the internal combustion engine to fucking facebook? Wtf man? Are you really that retarded or are you just pretending?

  26. paul

    Jul 20th, 2011


    first, calm down fella! I will try to explain it in simple terms so you can understand:

    I found the poster’s suggestion that facebook, myspace, and google were only for “fucking faggots” mildly amusing. Since millions of people use these things, I wondered what other commonly used things were used by millions of “fucking faggots” and penicilin and the internal combustion engine came to mind. My point was (read carefully, don’t miss it!) that it is rather silly of the poster to characterize most of the civilized world as a “fucking faggots” and further, that he/she is likely a very sad, self loathing individual to carry so much anger. Finally, if part of the point was to critique the social or practical value of facebook and myspace, calling their users “fucking faggots” is no argument at all… simply the equivalent of belching loudly, and about as useful.

    I hope that helps FFS….reading comprehension is not always the easiest thing, but I encourage you to keep trying!

  27. Yep

    Jul 20th, 2011

    Ooh Paul….. I almost have the urge to say “Go getem Tiger” but Nelson is the awsomest Tiger :D

  28. Orca Flotta

    Jul 20th, 2011

    Anarchy fails the moment two cars meet in an intersection.

    Naaaaw, only in 99.9% of all cases. The 0.01% of the humann population who are intelligent and grown-up and unselfish enough to be real anarchists won’t have a problem at the intersection.

  29. Orca Flotta

    Jul 20th, 2011

    that it is rather silly of the poster to characterize most of the civilized world as a “fucking faggots”

    Let’s face it, most of the civilized world are “fucking faggots”. Besides that social network users are by definition not very socialable people and far from being a majority that makes up most of the civilized world.

    And stating that opinion doesn’t make anybody “a very sad, self-loathing individual, to carry so much anger.” Speaking out sad truths doesn’t make one a sad person. Loathing those “services” isn’t self-loathing.

    But yes, calling them fucking faggots is not an argument at all but still hits the truth. Just replace fucking faggots with socially incompetent, clueless, politically unaware, conservative, sheepish, retarted, mass market slaves and we’re closer to a real argument.

  30. FFS

    Jul 20th, 2011

    Ah. Point taken Paul :) Its indeed a silly thing to say. If facebook etc was for faggots I definately should have an account. Luckily it isnt because I dont want an account there.

  31. Baloo Uriza

    Jul 21st, 2011

    I’m not terribly surprised about this; most sites expect you to be yourself.

  32. Senban Babii

    Jul 21st, 2011

    Well apparently it’s all changing again and Google is reinstating many of the suspended accounts.

  33. FFS

    Jul 21st, 2011

    The 0.01% of the human population who are intelligent and grown-up and unselfish enough to be real anarchists will realize that rules are needed to keep everyone in check including at the intersection.

    You want to see real anarchy in action? Look at 4chan’s /b/. An intelligent grown up bunch they are :3

  34. [...] I've been limiting my contact with all things Google after that unfortunate Google+ suspension that locked up my e-mail and data until Google eventually decided I was real after [...]

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