Patterico's Pontifications

5/14/2011

Patterico Criticizes Google; Gets Locked Out of Gmail; UPDATE: At Least 8 Nitecruzr Critics Were Locked Out of Gmail; UPDATE: Make that 9!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:09 pm

Over the last day or so, I have written several posts criticizing Google’s treatment of Ann Althouse. So did my guest blogger Aaron Worthing.

I collected several examples of people getting locked out of their Google accounts in the last 24 hours after criticizing nitecruzr on the Althouse support thread. The people include Althouse commenters EnigmatiCore and Dead Dog Bounce, as well as Hoystory — and Aaron.

All of whom, as it happens, left criticism on the Google support page for Althouse’s blog.

The cretin who insulted her and then deleted his taunts from the support thread, nitecruzr, is still acting on Google’s behalf even today. Commenter Dustin left a link to a thread where nitecruzr was acting as a Google support person. I went and left a comment there, noting that he was still there even after yesterday’s debacle — and essentially challenging him to disable my account too:

The comment has since been removed:

But I had now marked myself as another person who criticized nitecruzr on a Google forum page. And guess what? The very next time I tried to access my Gmail, I got this message:

That’s just what happened to the four other people who criticized Google or nitecruzr.

They want me to provide a cell phone number. That’s what Aaron, and Hoystory, and Dead Dog Bounce, and EnigmatiCore all did. Me, I went and left a support ticket with a different e-mail address, because I wasn’t thrilled about giving them a cell phone number. I have not heard back yet.

I rely on Gmail, so I’ll probably hand over the cell phone number if necessary. But I don’t like it. And I would strongly advise people who don’t already rely on Gmail to explore different options.

Since I am locked out of my Google account, I also cannot access Google Reader:

How’s that Google Chromebook sounding? The new device where you rely on Google to store all your data?

Now, since bringing this up on a related thread, I had one commenter (Beldar) suggest that this is happening because of Google’s recent Blogger outage, or some related reason. I asked for examples of people who, within the last 24 hours, were asked for their phone number. I am especially interested in anyone who was asked in the last 24 hours.

One commenter, Dana, said she was asked for her cell phone number, but she was able to hit a link called “save and continue” and bypass the question. A couple of other commenters reported being asked for a cell phone number, but have not yet answered my question as to whether they were REQUIRED to provide a cell phone number to restore their Google account. Dana, who didn’t criticize Google, was not required to hand over the cell phone number. I was.

I am convinced that Google has given this fellow nitecruzr the authority to flag accounts and require them to hand over cell phone numbers. (And if, instead, they are just asking for cell phone numbers wholesale, that’s a concern as well.)

Google, do something about this clown. GIve me back my Gmail without making me give you more personal information of mine.

In short: don’t be evil, Google.

UPDATE: A sixth person, B.E., has written to say that he too was locked out of his account. It is important to understand that the six of us — Aaron Worthing, Dead Dog Bounce, Hoystory, B.E., EnigmatiCore, and me — were all told that unusual activity had been detected on our accounts. We were required to give up our cell phone numbers to regain access. There was no “save and continue” option or other way to bypass the requirement. I even rebooted my computer and cleared my cache, and was unable to get into Gmail.

Other people have said Google asked for their cell phone numbers recently. But the six of us are different. We were required to give up a cell number.

And each one of us had criticized nitecruzr.

That’s strong circumstantial evidence that he flagged our accounts. We were disabled from accessing our e-mail because we criticized this guy’s rudeness and dishonesty.

That’s a real problem, Google. The word is spreading.

What are you going to do about it?

UPDATE x2: Two more: jpr9954 and AngelaTC. We’re 8 for 8 so far.

UPDATE x3: Make that 9. LilacSunday was locked out too.

UPDATE x4: Upon further discussion with LilacSunday, she wasn’t actually “locked out” because she had already given her recovery information some weeks or months earlier. After criticizing nitecruzr, she was asked to confirm those recovery options, and did.

PSA: Rolling Restoration of the Playstation Network in Progress

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:32 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Mine might be working for me (I am installing a required system update now) and yours might be, too.  Joystiq has the details, but it’s not in every region yet.  Here is a handy rollout map for United States users.

As this comes back, Playstation needs to mend fences with its customers, but we should also remember that this was the result of criminal misconduct.  I am not certain if Sony did enough to prevent this, but on some level you can never truly do enough to prevent all such attacks.

———–

And in tangentially related news, I went through exactly the same verification procedure with my Gmail as Patrick reported.  I’ll post my thoughts in a comment on that thread.

Update: I spoke too soon.  I updated the firmware, but I still can’t sign in.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

“The Decision”: Huckabee to Announce . . . Something

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:14 pm

Allahpundit on Huckabee’s show about his presidential aspirations, or lack thereof (who knows?)

Before the flood of “I DON’T CARE” comments begins below, let me assure you: You do care. You care if you’re a Palin fan because having Huck in the race will deny her some of the social conservative votes she needs to win. And you care if you’re a Pawlenty fan — or merely a Romney-hater who finds T-Paw an acceptable alternative — because his candidacy probably can’t survive a field that includes both Huckabee and Mitch Daniels. If Daniels jumps in, Pawlenty will have to tack right and reframe himself as the true social conservative option among the top tier. With Huckabee in too, he can’t do that; he’d have to reframe himself yet again from being the “Not Romney” in the race to the “Not Any Of Those Other Guys.” Is there enough of a demand for someone like that among primary voters to beat the competition in either Iowa or New Hampshire? I’m skeptical. All of which is to say, in the words of Joe Biden, Huckabee’s decision is a big effing deal, even if you’d never vote for him. (Especially if you’d never vote for him.)

I think it’s on now. But I’m not watching. So discuss in the comments.

UPDATE: I am seeing on Twitter that he’s out.

Don’t Let Google Off the Hook: Evidence Aplenty That Cretin “Nitecruzr” Represents Google — And Even Has the Ability to Flag Your Google Account!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:55 pm

I keep reading that the Google support guy “nitecruzr” who heaped abuse on Ann Althouse was just a volunteer, and that Google shouldn’t be blamed for his actions. For example, an Instapundit reader writes Glenn to say nitecruzr “doesn’t appear” to be a Google employee.

Maybe not . . . but this post proves that Google chose to allow nitecruzr to represent Google with respect to problems at Blogger web sites. And if you allow Google to pretend that nitecruzr did not represent Google, you are letting Google off the hook.

I am not just saying this, I am about to prove it. Here’s the executive summary:

First, nitecruzr was the guy at a Google.com domain who was allowed to interface with Althouse, at a web site where Google directs people to go to “write us.” (If you have any doubts on that score, I elaborate here, and at the end of this post.) Second, nitecruzr had the ability to delete comments on that forum. Third, he claims to have the ability to escalate a support request. Fourth, and most important, from comments at the Althouse site, we now learn that this guy has the ability to flag your Google account for review.

I’ll work these points in reverse order, because that last point is the one I find most eye-opening.

Nitecruzr’s Ability to Flag the Google Accounts of People who Objected to his Behavior

From a comment at Althouse by someone called “EnigmatiCore”:

It really needs to be highlighted how those who made comments, subsequently deleted by Nitecruzr, had their accounts flagged as needing ‘verification’ due to ‘unusual activity’– making it that we either had to give them our phone number, or lose access to our accounts.

It happened to several of us.

(All emphasis in this post is mine.)

I left a comment asking for anyone who experienced that to write me at patterico AT gmail DOT com. I have since received this e-mail from EnigmatiCore, who elaborates on his story:

I wrote a fairly lengthy comment on the Google help boards. I did not name call, nor make any personal attacks. I offered constructive criticism, including suggesting that Nitecruzr contemplate why all of his posts on that thread had been scored as ‘unhelpful’ by readers, and pointing out that there was nothing in the links he was providing even remotely relevant to the matter at hand, and that his assumptions were incompatible with the tenets of good customer service.

I waited a few minutes, and hit refresh to see if there was anything further. I saw that a few people had clicked the ‘was this answer helpful’ link on my comment, and saw a few others making complaints, but no reply from Nitecruzr.

A few minutes later, I hit refresh again. This time, my post was gone, and there was a strange, out of context “2 of 100″ comment from Nitecruzr. I decided to go back to Althouse’s backup blog and make a comment there about how much of a jerk that guy was, but I found when I did that my Google account had been temporarily disabled due to ‘unusual activity’. Further, to recover my account, they would need a phone number to either send a text message or a voice message with a verification code to enter.

I contemplated just walking away from that account because, why would I give my phone number to them especially with the way things were going down? But I gave in, and after getting the text message (which I still have) I was able to enter the validation code and resume logging in.

If nitecruzr is just some random dude with no connection to Google, how does he have the ability to flag your account for calling him rude and unprofessional?

[UPDATE: See the update below for another example of someone who criticized nitecruzr and had his account flagged. He was unable to access his Gmail account until he gave Google his cell phone number.]

Nitecruzr’s Ability to Delete Forum Comments and Escalate Requests for Review

The above e-mail I quoted provides some evidence of nitecruzr’s ability to delete posts at the help forum provided by Google. That point is clear to everyone who has followed the controversy, but if you want to brush up on the full record of nitecruzr’s shabby treatment of Althouse, go to this post of mine, which has a link to every comment left on the board by nitecruzr, Althouse, and third parties. If you click the link you will see numerous complaints from third parties who objected to the way that nitecruzr was deleting his taunts to Althouse and then pretending that she was getting outraged over other comments of his that were neutral, such as this:

OK, this is escalated to Blogger Support on your behalf.

We are sincerely sorry for any inconvenience which we are causing.

Note that, even on those rare occasions when nitecruzr was being polite, he was showing that he represented Google. He uses the term “we” and he represents that he has the ability to escalate Althouse’s problem to Blogger Support.

Ah, but that’s just nitecruzr saying he is part of the “we” that represents Google. What is Google saying? Turns out, they’re saying the same thing, because . . .

When Google Says “Write Us” You Get Someone Like Nitecruzr

The final point is to establish that nitecruzr, whether he is paid by Google or not, represents Google. At this page I take you through the steps that someone with a Blogger blog must go through to contact Google. At the end of the process, though, when you have exhausted all other alternatives, you get an option to “write us”:

Read what that says. Write “us” for help. They aren’t saying: “go to this third-party forum for help.” They are saying write “us” — Google — for help. And here is what happens when you click that:

That’s the same http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/blogger/ address that Althouse found herself at. A forum where someone like nitecruzr represents himself and Google as “we” or “us”; where he has the ability to delete posts at will; where he can escalate issues to Blogger support; and where he heaps abuse on people asking for help.

This is not a “nitecruzr issue,” folks. It’s a Google issue. Google needs to step up and take responsibility for what it did to Althouse.

You might wonder why I appear so invested in this. Well, a big company once tried to take away blog-related property from me, too: my domain, patterico.com, in which I had invested years of sweat equity. The company that stole it (or, at a minimum, allowed it to be hijacked by a corporate cousin), 1&1, was every bit as unresponsive and rude as Google (yes, Google) was to Althouse. I can tell you that, as a blogger, watching years of your life get pissed away by a big company that doesn’t seem to care is not fun. For me, it took the media getting involved for something to happen. For Althouse, it took the involvement of Instapundit. What do the little guys do?

So this is personal. And I say Google needs to answer for this. I’m waiting.

UPDATE: I just got this e-mail from Dead Dog Bounce, who criticized nitecruzr for altering the thread in dishonest ways:

Hi Patterico,

I’m the evil genius behind the “Dead Dog Bounce” comment on the Althouse thread. If possible, I’d prefer that my real name were kept out of general circulation.

I signed up to comment on the Althouse thread. When I went to access my mail today, for the first time since September 2004 when I opened my gmail account, I had to provide a cellphone number to verify my account.

I’ve used gmail as my primary email address since 2004. I’ve got a blog (collecting tumbleweed) on Blogger. it occurs to me that I need to start thinking, at the very least about disaster planning in case Google takes a dislike to me. I’m
genuinely scared of them now.

Thanks for highlighting this issue. Google are of a size and reach now that Microsoft can only dream of. Anyone with a gmail account is essentially trusting their identity to a company that makes a selling point of not having any point of
contact. Only stupid people ignore threats like that.

Wow.

UPDATE x2: And nitecruzr is still allowed by Google to represent the face of “Google help” — even today, even after his dishonest and abusive treatment of Althouse yesterday. Again: wow.

UPDATE x3: I just got locked out of my Google account. I now have to provide a cell phone number to get back in. This is what I saw when I tried to access Gmail:

Do I want to give Google my cell phone number? No. But I currently rely on Gmail. So I am faced with a tough choice.

I will probably give in. And I will probably explore new options for e-mail.

I will have a new post about this soon. I am locked out of Google Reader as well. I plan to explore what else is disabled, for the offense of criticizing nitecruzr.

UPDATE x4: It happened to Hoystory as well. He says so in the comments. That makes four of us.

UPDATE x5: Oh, I forgot. My co-blogger Aaron told me by Gmail (before it went down) that it happened to him too. And, like Hoystory, he criticized nitecruzr on a forum thread. (I did today as well, on this one. It has since been deleted, but I have screenshots, of course.)

So that’s five.

Video From the LSU Protest and the Application of the Heckler’s Veto

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:19 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

I blogged about this yesterday, noting that there was idiocy all around in the story, but I couldn’t find satisfactory video at the time.  Thanks to Allahpundit (with an pointer from Instapundit), we have the video showing pretty much the entire protest, counter-protest and in real time as the heckler’s veto was applied:

Personally I didn’t see evidence of bottles thrown at him as reported, but we are only seeing from one angle. And what is with the girl behind him?

Also here’s Fox News talking to an organizer of the counter protest:


Cody Wells, to his credit, agrees that they shouldn’t have thrown anything at the guy.  That makes him one of the smartest people in this whole stupid incident.  I’m not joking, he “gets it” when too many others do not. He loves this country, and loves the freedom we are founded on.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.1774 secs.