Google+'s Long History Of Suspensions In Search Of Remedies

For those who have recently been chastised with the swift judgemental hand of a Google+ suspension, you are not alone. Google+ has had a long history of not only suspending accounts, but also deleting them. Dating all the way back to July, 2011 (only one month after its inception), Google + was deleting what they thought were a large number of fake accounts, only to restore them when users proved their legitimacy.

At the time, Google's senior vice president of social, Vic Gundotra admitted that the company had made some major mistakes with its first attempt at cracking down on fake profiles.

This was followed up by Google's vice president of product Bradley Horowitz elaborating more profusely as to what really went wrong. "We’ve noticed that many violations of the Google+ common name policy were in fact well-intentioned and inadvertent and for these users our process can be frustrating and disappointing," Horowitz said in his Google+ post. "So we’re currently making a number of improvements to this process, specifically regarding how we notify these users that they’re not in compliance with Google+ policies and how we communicate the remedies available to them."

In subsequent reviews by Mashable and other social media blogs, this gaffe was dismissed as early "growing pains."

Flash forward two years, and again users are up against a rash of new suspensions. While very little has been written about these new suspensions yet, two areas have been flagged most recently for violating the Google+ User Content and Conduct Policy. One infraction pertains to "images" and the other accuses users of the "promotion of regulated goods."

Back in May, Marlo Fullerton details her frustration in trying to rectify her suspension. Her Google+ business page was suspended based on her account's cover image violating the social network's TOS (terms of service) - with no indication exactly as to why the image might be considered offensive.

While, there's been no update as to Fullerton receiving a satisfactory resolution to her suspension, I personally incurred my own suspension this week, pertaining to the "promotion of regulated goods." Actually this is my second suspension pertaining to the same infraction. When I received the first warning, I like Ms. Fullerton looked to delete any status update that could possibly relate to regulated goods, as spelled out in Google+ TOS, which reads as such:

However, I could not find anything on my Google+ feed that even inferred the "sale of pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco, fireworks, weapons, health/medical devices, gambling, gaming strategy, online casinos, sports betting or lotteries." So, I was at a loss as to what to remove or how to bring my account back into compliance.

My only recourse was to submit an appeal for reinstatement, indicating that I couldn't find anything that fell out of guideline. Within less than 24 hours I was reinstated -- with no indication as to why I was suspended in the first place, or even an apology as to why the suspension was imposed.

However, two weeks later, I got hit with a second suspension -- and this time -- with language that was much more dire in tone, than the first suspension.

In essence, I'm now locked out of my account for two weeks -- while still struggling to understand what I could have possibly posted to my account that would warrant this type of treatment.

Reaching out online, I've post the following query on a Google forum, but to date have received no response from the good folk at Big G.

The frustration incurred by users experiencing something similar has less to do with the suspension itself, as it has to do with the vagueness of Google+'s TOS. While they might find it easy to paint a broad-accusatory-brush, they are not being very user-friendly in delineating exactly how users are breaching their terms of service, or specifically what they need to do to bring the account back into compliance.

For instance, might the "promotion of regulated goods" have anything to do with products that aren't officially available for sale yet? If so, the only status update I can think of that would fall under that broad-sweeping generalization would be the link to a blog I posted about Google Glass for small business last week. Could it be (ironies of ironies), I was suspended because they didn't like my promotion of their yet-to-be-released product? It's doubtful, but then again, hmmmn something to ponder.

So readers, if anyone has additional insight as to how to rectify Google+ suspensions, please comment here or on the Google forum site.Thanks, and please do circle me up when I'm released from G+ jail! See you on the outside.