Google is pushing customer boundaries a step further every single time and the most recent policy modification implemented by the company stands proof of that.

GDC 2012 San Francisco

Essentially, you will not be able to provide feedback in the form of a review for the applications you download from Android’s iTunes variant – Google Play – unless you are willing to disclose your identity.

In other words, reviewing an app necessitates having as well as logging in on Google Play with your Google+ account. Furthermore, the name of author and his picture are displayed for everyone and their mother to see right next to the content of the review. At first glance, Google seems to have absolutely no reasonable explanation for the newly integrated protocol that threatens user security as well as their privacy, but as you will find out, they do.

Remember Google+?

The truth is that the validity of the reviews you can read on the Google Play store does not constitute the primary concern of this major search engine corporation. To put it simply, the identity confirmation required to post your feedback on the apps is not related to whether or not users would be less tempted to write bogus review, but rather another attempt of Google to “promote” their social network, Google+.

In addition to Google Play, the same mandatory sign-in applies for Chrome Web Store as well as Google Maps. And, to make matters worse, the pop-up window that asks you for your Google+ account does not even provide an explanation for the request. You are simply able to log in or, if you are one of the “few” people who hasn’t got a Google+ account, register for one. Otherwise, the online environment will never know what you think about that app.

What’s with the aggressive Google “Plus-ification”?

First of all, you should know that by comparison to Facebook, the Google+ social network (or identity service, as it is referred to by company representatives) is not very successful. A very important percentage of Google’s profits stems from the number of sold ads. Now, because the ads that displayed on Facebook cannot be indexed properly by Google, the company loses a huge segment of the ad market. The logical step, in Google’s opinion at least, is to replicate the Facebook social network and then determine people to utilize their version instead.

Necessity over persuasion

Can’t argue with that logic, but it seems that instead of making Google+ more attractive than Facebook based on the user feedback, Google is simply forcing us to use it by attaching the account sign-up to every service they provide. The goal is to transform the “Like” button into the “Plus” button and take over Facebook share of the ad market. Of course, some of the users’ benefits like privacy or security may be sacrificed in the process, but it’s all for the greater (to be read corporate) good.

The real problem

Having your identity as well as personal data displayed on the web brings along valid privacy concerns for everyone, but in some cases divulging this data can have dire consequences. So far, the options offered by Google+ for managing the type of personal details and the activity tracking are very rudimentary. Therefore, while there are few risks for the typical middle class John Smith working 9 to 5, the same does not apply for people whose jobs are in jeopardy if sensitive details are released.

Furthermore, the personal details displayed publicly confer stalkers a private insight window in the lives of their targets. As of such, women and children could very well become the victims of abuse simply because they posted an app review on Google Play utilizing their real identity. At the same time, the legislation imposed in oppressive religious or political regimes may prohibit downloading certain apps under severe penalty. In the latter cases, the Google+ may also constitute a dead giveaway for the current location and activity of dissidents.

Conclusion

No real good can possibly amount from forcing people to disclose their personal details on the internet in order to benefit from Google services until they can perfect a visibility system that protects the identity of the users from prying eyes. On a side note, it is necessary to point out that Google+ does permit you to utilize an alias, but this rule only applies for famous internet personalities.

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