“Google seemingly split on pseudonymous Google+ accounts and Google Profiles – It’s okay until it isn’t” by Tateru Nino (via Dave Bell on Making Light) is another interesting look at the side effects of the rollout of Google+. It seems that Google+ and Google Profiles share some aspects of a honeypot for people with the audacity not to use their full real-world identity online so they can be more effectively marketed to.
And then there’s “Last Post” over at Cockpit Conversation (via Sylvia on Making Light), which is another tale of someone losing access to their Gmail and blog (hosted by Google) because of a date of birth issue.
People blogging about these particular problems are the visible tip of the iceberg. There must be thousands of other people who are running up against the same issues. And unfortunately, unless you know someone inside Google, the only way to ask them for help with some really scary problems is to post in an open forum. (And seriously, if you’re not a computer geek with the knowledge to figure it out, losing access to your email can be terrifying.)
Despite all the people posting on that forum about date of birth problems preventing them from accessing their accounts, so far Google’s best official response there seems to be “Google is aware that mistaken dob entries have precluded some users from entering the Google+ Project in it’s initial field trial.”
For a company whose motto is “don’t be evil,” and that is filled with engineers driven to make the internet a better place not just for Google users, but for all of us, this kind of hands-off take-it-or-leave-it approach is…disappointing.
For reference (because people have been asking), we haven’t heard anything from Google about our own particular situation, either formally or through back channels. As many people have pointed out, we could use the account recovery process to claim that we made an error, and enter a fake date of birth that shows Alex is over 13. But this is the only circumstance in which Google allows you to change the date of birth in your profile. Once it is in there, it is in there for good, and there would be no way for Alex to reset it once he is old enough. This may be problematic if he decides wants to keep using this particular Google account in the future.