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Proceed With Caution: Google+ Is Forever

Now that you've joined Google+, what happens when you no longer have access to the email you built your Google+ world around?

The world is still gaga for Google+. If you are just getting started, or still waiting anxiously for an invitation, though, take a step back and cool your jets. Think carefully before you get too deep into Google+ because you won't be able to change the email address associated with your Google social network...ever.

I have not made any secret of the fact that I am not enamored with Google+. I think it's got promise, but the novelty of drag and drop Circles wore off on me after about ten minutes, and I don't agree that the privacy is better. Facebook has its issues, but Google+ requires a cross-referenced spreadsheet with accompanying Venn Diagram to keep track of who will see a given post, a separate linked spreadsheet to track which lies you told to which group so you can keep your stories straight, and the forethought to go into each post after its online and change the resharing settings to prevent your Circles from sharing with one another. It gives me a migraine.

Another issue I ran into is that I got my initial invitation to Google+, and built my Google+ network around a Gmail address (s3kur3@gmail.com). Whenever an update posts from one of my circles, or someone sends me a message, or some new person adds me to one of their Circles, Google+ sends me an update. The problem is that I don't use Gmail, and I don't want to use Gmail, so I never see those updates.

I have another Google Profile tied to my primary email address--tony@s3kur3.com-- that I can use instead. But, I have already invested the time to set up Google+ Circles related to my Gmail address, and I don't want to start all over.

It should be simple enough, right? If I decided to drop the s3kur3.com domain tomorrow, and wanted to make tony@tonybradley.com my primary email address for my Facebook account, I would just go into the Facebook Account Settings, and add tony@tonybradley.com as a new contact email address. Then I can just select the new contact email address and click the Change Contact Email button to make it my primary, and remove tony@s3kur3.com from the contact email addresses. Voila!

Surely, Google+ provides something similar. As you may have guessed by now--it doesn't. So, what happens when you use a work-supplied Gmail address as the basis for building your Google+ social networking empire, and then switch jobs and lose access to that email address? Easy--you lose access to your Google+ social network because your Google+ identity is eternally linked to the primary email address of the Google Profile it was started with--and that can't be changed.

Granted, the same is true about everything else from the Google-verse connected to that Google Profile persona, so you need to be equally careful about establishing your Google Docs, Contacts, Calendars, Picasa photos, and other services in connection with an email address you don't own, or that you might not be able to access in the future.

There are ways for me to add additional email addresses to my Google Profile, or I could set up my Gmail account to automatically forward all email to my primary email account. I am sure there are a variety of potential workarounds to serve as Band-Aids. But, they all rely on the having access to the email account connected as the primary for the Google Profile, and for some people that may not be an option.

That is one reason I am not a fan of the integration by default with Google+, and I find the pervasive weaving of the social network into all things Google to be creepy . I am just dabbling with Google+, and already I seem to have a lifelong commitment with the social network that I can't easily change.

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