Google Plus and Its TOS


By now, most of us have received the email from Google Plus inviting us to customize our Google Plus URL. Have you changed yours? Do you feel important since many months ago, customized Google Plus URLs were only available for VIPs? Well, there’s more behind the story if you read the Google Plus Terms of Service.

While the email was friendly and said, “You’re now eligible for a unique Google Plus custom URL that lets you easily point folks to your profile (no more long URLs!).” The email continued by providing a recommended URL and ended, “Click the Get URL button below to get started.”

The process sounded simple enough. But wait, there’s more. Once on the Google Plus site, the recommended URL appeared, and all that stood between either an individual or a business and the coveted new URL was a quick click. However, once you click, the old URL with so many numbers would become history.

But did you read the Google Plus Terms of Service? There was some very important language in the Google Plus TOS: “Custom URLs are free for now, but we may start charging a fee for them. However, we will tell you before we start charging and give you the choice to stop participating first.”

What if you, as an individual or a business, changed your Google Plus URL all over the Internet? You may feature your Google Plus link on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flipboard, Twitter, Instagram – and the list goes on and on. For those of us with dozens of social sites, that’s a lot of time and effort.

While a custom Google Plus URL may seem hot now, who wants to pay for it? From the wording in the Google Plus TOS, paying for a customized URL might place small and mid-sized businesses at a disadvantage – when you consider they have to pay for a plethora of tech tools that are rapidly becoming out of reach: SEO and SEM, mobile advertising, CRM technology, cloud computing, etc.

And here’s a final thought to consider, why would Google Plus charge for a customized URL when its key competitors (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flipboard, Instagram) don’t charge users? This is certainly not a competitive advantage and will not appeal to users.

So, the next time you think something may be too good to be true, read the Terms of Service.


Image Credit: Google Plus.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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About Allan Pratt

Technology and cybersecurity professional with focus on tech news, cybersecurity, networking, infrastructure, data protection, consumer electronics, and social media.
This entry was posted in Social Media, Terms of Service. Bookmark the permalink.

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