If you have a Google account — and who among us doesn’t? — you might want to be careful about visiting Google’s other social network, Orkut.
Google is automatically creating new Orkut accounts for anyone that visits Orkut.com while already logged in to a Google account. (Try it yourself if you don’t mind having an Orkut account setup for you.) If you also have a Google+ account, Google will take the data from it (your name and avatar) to auto-populate your new Orkut account.
Frank Strong noticed this a couple days ago; we reached out to Google for comment, but the company hasn’t replied.
Here’s what Google is doing:
If you’re logged in to a Google account and you visit Orkut.com, Google will quickly send you through a couple URL redirects before ultimately dropping you on your new Orkut profile page. That page, as you can see below, has the phrase “accountCreated” in the URL. (You can click to see a larger version.)
Google never asked if I wanted to create an Orkut account; it happened in a matter of seconds.
There’s been no official announcement of this automatic account creation and, as I said above, Google hasn’t responded to our requests for more information. So it’s not clear to me how long this has been going on. I do know that I’ve visited Orkut in the past, perhaps a year or two ago, and did not have an account at the time — nor did Google create one for me automatically.
Google has been integrating Orkut and Google+ together since as far back as May 2012. A post on the Orkut blog explained how Orkut users that also have Google+ accounts can link the two together. But there’s no mention of auto-creating new Orkut accounts, and the post even says that “linking your Orkut and Google+ profiles is optional.”
There was nothing optional for me. Google created my new Orkut account and automatically linked it to my Google+ account. The Settings tab on my new Orkut account shows this to be the case:
There’s an Orkut help page that explains how to unlink my new Orkut and Google+ accounts elsewhere in the settings:
There’s also an option in settings to delete my Orkut account:
But really, Google, why is this even necessary when I didn’t ask to create an Orkut account in the first place?
And the bigger question, obviously, is why would Google start doing this in the first place? The Orkut/Google+ integration certainly helps Google report higher usage numbers for Google+, but why the interest in inflating Orkut account numbers, too? And since when is it good for users to automatically create new social accounts for them without any indication that the user actually wants the account?