My response was an act of simple pleasure.
Over the recent years, I've come to understand that we have the technology now, not to be forced to live our daily lives or have our transactions housed and manged from centralized companies with huge data silos.
I learned we get to become the center of our data and our interactions, choosing who we get to share what pieces of information with and when, even in highly secure ways, peer-to-peer, with another technology called "Zero Knowledge Proofs."
We don't have to be correlated in our data and transactions anymore unless we want to.
Yes, the NSA still has their "ways" and so do other governmental agencies. We don't really have control over that in the current landscape of things. But the evolved technology (when used the right way) enhances the relationship between you and those agencies.
You get to keep your data and they get to know things like where you were or where you weren't based on the data you choose to provide, even if only you said, "No, I wasn't here on such and such date and I can prove it, " without having disclose you're actual whereabouts.
Yep, that type of technology exists. Right now. It's not widely yet adopted or used, but it exists.
It's all very exciting.
Knowing that, where does that leave companies that literally thrive and profit over keeping, using, and selling your personal data?
Until they change their ways and adopt the newer technologies, I've simply modified how I interact with them.
Google is the best example. I'm actually glad they falsely accused me.
Go ahead Google. Keep alienating your member base.
The Gmail account I'd set up, was for one specific purpose.
Just one: to chat with someone in an online space that didn't offer any other sign up methods except Google or Facebook.
That's it. I've used it once or twice to sign into that platform to do so.
I learned long ago, to start keeping separate emails for separate purposes. That way if the "ship" (the data conglomerate that controls your account) goes down or falsely accuses you, you don't go down with it. You can still function in the other areas of your digital life with minimal risk.
It really isn't wise to put all your eggs into one basket.
Then I started working on a personal project, one that required me to get a list of keywords out of Google's new Google Ads program.
So I used that email address I'd previously set up just for chatting on that one platform only to create the Google Ads account.
For those of you who don't know, now when you create a new Google Ads account, you're actually required to submit to them banking information or a valid credit card to fully see and use many of the other functions within their program, just after your initial sign up. You're required to go through the steps of setting up a campaign in order to get a list of keywords.
I wasn't able to export the keyword list for my own use until I'd both submitted this information AND reverted back the Old Keyword user interface (UI) to find the option to actually do so. At that time, I put both "campaigns" I was forced to create in order to get the keyword list on "pause."
I also set up a free Google website in order create this account, so I could "run the campaign" on that free site. Having a website was required to set up the account.
I had zero intentions of running a campaign or building out the free site I'd chosen. I just needed the keyword list for some analysis and planning I was doing.
I logged into that Gmail account to check the messages and was informed that my Google Ads account had been suspended.
Naturally, I logged in to see what offense I'd allegedly committed.
- The account was set up with a free Google website (that wasn't even built, so a full site didn't exist yet to run the campaigns on).
- The account was set up with an email address that's only been used a few other times for one specific site (with my real name no less...)
- I'd submitted actual banking info (which I hate by the way and they WON'T LET YOU ERASE OR DELETE! Once you have one on file, you can't delete that one without another one taking its place.).
- I'd never run either of the two "campaigns" I'd set up.
- The keyword list surrounded a theme of writing, so there was definitely no hate speech goin' on or the promoting of illegal activities.
Literally, nothing has been done with the Google Ads account except my own personal research. Nothing.
This is why I felt it so ironic that I was being accused.
What exactly had I done to violate their Terms of Service? And more importantly, how did I do it?
Google doesn't have to tell you.
Nope. They are the almighty gods of the internet world. They hold all the power and keys to your transactions, behaviors, and habits.
Well, not actually, but that is what they'd like you to believe.
Logging into the account, I was met with a very red banner at the top of the page indicating that I had, indeed, actually violated the Terms of Service, but a specific reason wasn't noted.
My only options were to "Learn More" or "Contact Us."
The "Contact Us" page led to an "Appeal form" only. That form requested far more information than what was originally submitted to even open the account to begin with. I should also add that some of the fields on that form, the way they are stated, are making you admit that it's your "business" that's working with the account.
As of this writing, I don't have a "business". I know that.
I'm not going to submit a form stating as such in order to be even heard. It becomes a legal transaction when you submit a form and you're filling out the fields. It can be used against you. Google left no room for explanation or alternate fields to state as such.
Since my life is not wrapped up in this account, I don't have a business, and I'm not suffering any financial loss due to Google's behavior, I don't need to fill out the form and admit to things that I know aren't true.
Still no information was given, only that I definitely had committed some sort of violation.
The "Learn More" page was a generic page indicating all the reasons why an account had been suspended, but again, none of them fit my case because campaigns weren't being used, had never been run and all my info on file was all my real information and banking information at that.
This, ladies and gentleman, is when the big bad data company hides behind their very large Terms and Conditions, but refuses to own up to when they're blatantly full of garbage.
It also proves a very real point that I'm trying to make.
All they have to do is falsely accuse you if they want to shut you down. That's it.
Are you really going to fight the large conglomerate centralized company? Unless you have more money to fight with them in court (and can actually get that far in the legal processes), the answer is no you wont.
It's only a matter of time before a large data conglomerate platform falsely accuses you.
I've known that for awhile.
That's why I don't keep all my eggs in one basket. Not for personal communications, not for personal projects, and not for personal pleasures (both online and off).
It's always been unwise to daisy chain your logins to one central account. Logging in with Google or Facebook to several different accounts is a prime example.
What happens the second you wake up and learn your account with said large data provider who holds control over the account they are giving you permission to use, is suddenly suspended?
Don't think it won't happen to you?
It already happened to me and I wasn't even doing anything. Oh, and I can prove it. But I've learned over the years, that it doesn't matter if you can prove what you're saying.
The businesses and systems in place only want to control you, herd you in the direction they want you to go, and make you pay financially (either through your time, money, or emotions) through every possible orifice you have in order to keep the "privilege" of interacting between yourself and others. Bonus for them if they can get you trapped in the legal system in the process of doing so.
The more of your life that is housed and operated from any of these large conglomerate siloed companies, the easier it is for them to do.
Stop making it easy for them.
Knowing this, I did what any person who remembers these things and who doesn't put all their eggs into one basket: I joyfully and eagerly deleted the account.
I ignored their threats of "you'll never be able to set up a Google Ads account ever again or use the email address ever again."
Maybe not under that account. In the near future, however, my personal and financial information won't be sitting there like an obvious sitting duck waiting to be hacked either.
You don't scare me Google.
Like the Abdominal Snowman, I removed your "teeth" long ago, by simply changing how I interact with you.
- I don't fully rely on you for anything.
- I operate with you or anyone like you, with knowledge you can falsely accuse me and shut down the account at anytime for any reason and not tell me what's going on. (You totally even just did it, proving my understanding of your Terms of Service is correct).
- I only tell you what I want you to know.
- I have backup plan after backup plan, after backup plan.
- I see the man behind the curtain. Lot's of other people do to.
- Even if you shut down ALL of my Google accounts today – it won't stop me from interacting with those who I have important communications with. Nothing in my life will stop or be harmed by it. I've set it up this way on purpose.
Don't forget as the customer, you get to choose dear reader.
Sometimes it means making harsh changes to how you communicate and conduct transactions. It's better to lay the groundwork for those alternate methods before you fully trust your life or your transactions to to these types of companies.
You don't want to lose trust and respect forever.
It's one thing to make an innocent mistake.
It's another to falsely accuse when the truth can be verifiably proven, stick to your story, and sign on legal documents (police reports, court documents, or otherwise put into writing) that your story is true. Especially, when you've been given the proof to show your statements are false.
Any person, company, or government who does that automatically loses trust and respect with me.
And when they're unwilling to gain reconciliation and make it right? You've lost that respect and trust forever.
In some cases, I'm still forced to do business and have interactions with companies and or individuals that behave this way – but when I get the chance, when I know I don't have to - and behavior like this presents itself? I won't.
So, Google, I violated your Terms of Service huh? Prove it.
No, I don't have to jump through your hoops for you to maybe believe me, maybe get scraps of your attention, and for you to maybe turn the account back on through an "Appeals" process. I don't need to tie up time in my day, spending time with you on the phone, or filling out forms, sending you anymore information, or giving that any emotional energy. I don't need to have the account turned back on.
All of the data is right there in front of you.
As consumers, we CAN change how we interact with companies who behave this way. We can change how we structure out digital interactions, both offline and online, so that we as the individuals are more protected from the these types of behaviors.
I'm glad many people are waking up to that fact that they don't have to put up with it either. Thanks Google, for at least proving that.