Poll: 66% Say They’ll Cancel Google Accounts Over Privacy Changes

Is Google facing an angry backlash of users canceling accounts in response to Google’s new terms of service & privacy policy? It will if respondents to a Washington Post poll are a reliable barometer.

With more than 14,000 people responding, nearly two-thirds said they would cancel their Google account, with 15% saying no and just under 20% not sure.

Look at other indicators of customer outrage, however, and the picture isn’t so clear. For example, instructions on how to delete a Google account aren’t appearing as a hot search on Google trends. Nor are they appearing as an auto-complete suggestion when searching on Google itself (though Gmail is in the #5 position):

The backlash to Google’s changes is reminiscent in many ways to the response to Facebook’s privacy changes in 2010, which sparked a lot of interest to “how to delete” articles but made virtually no impact on Facebook’s continuing growth in users. We covered that phenomenon in How Traffic Spiked For Site Offering Advice On How To Delete A Facebook Account.

Want to delete your own Google account? Be careful. Google itself offers detailed instructions on How to close your Google Account. But they also offer two very explicit, and very important warnings:

If you delete your Google Account:

  • You’ll permanently remove the Google products associated with that account, such as your orkut profile, your iGoogle page, and your Web History.
  • If you use Gmail with your account, you’ll no longer be able to access that email. You’ll also be unable to reuse your Gmail username.

Google recommends checking all of the data associated with your account using your Google Dashboard, and saving anything important (such as your contacts, documents, photos, etc) before deleting anything. You can also use Google’s Data Liberation Front to expedite the process of “liberating” your personal stuff from Google prior to shutting down your account.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: Accounts & Profiles | Legal: Privacy

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About The Author: (@CJSherman) is a contributing editor to Marketing Land and President of Searchwise LLC, a Boulder Colorado based Web consulting firm. He also programs and co-chairs the Search Marketing Expo - SMX conference series.

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  • http://www.seoskeptic.com/ Aaron Bradley

    The wording of the Washington Post poll question was rather laconic.  It asked:  “Will you cancel your Google accounts because of the privacy changes?”

    Where this muddies the water in terms of analyzing the responses is because a user may have a Google account which is used for many different services.  With this new privacy policy an account and the services tied to it are inseparable (closing Google “accounts” – plural – surely would apply mostly to us marketing types).

    I bring this up because that vague wording really applies to Google in the abstract, which makes it much easier to say you’d opt out (a classic faux paux of survey design well known to those engaged in usability testing).  Are you going to stop using Gmail?  As a website owner, are you going to quit using Google Analytics?  As a local business owner, are you going to un-claim your Google Places listing?  Take down your Google+ Page?  Quit using Feedburner for your blog?  Quit advertising using AdWords, regardless of how much business it brings you?  Never again upload a video to YouTube?  All of these require a Google account.

    It’s indeed because of the utility of these services – many of which are free – that Google could even consider such an audacious move in the first place.  They’re insulated from user wrath by the fact so many people rely on their services, and will probably end up biting the bullet and not canceling their Google “accounts.”  Breaking up is easy when it doesn’t come with any consequences, and I’m sure many of those 66% haven’t thought those consequences through.  This isn’t to say that people won’t end up deserting Google, but that it may not be the mass desertion the Washington Post suggests it could be.

  • http://twitter.com/LouisvilleHI Lou. History&Issues

    Also, it’s not a scientific poll.  So until such a one is done, and without a leading question, there’s nothing but idle speculation.

  • http://www.godsboy.org Dewaldt Huysamen

    They can evade my privacy I do not care haha. And so what if search plus your world is semi tampered results, it still tailored more to your personal needs and behaviour and interests. In the future it should better and deliver a better experience.

    People are worried about what data Google collects, you will be amazed what your ISP tracks about you and even your smartphone pre-installed network diagnostic software tracks and sends out.

  • http://twitter.com/AndreeaC_T Andreea Townsend

    I think people are over reacting. Down goes your SEO efforts. I don’t think customized results are a bad thing from a consumer perspective. Isn’t that what people want anyway?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NQUWYGWYQHIGWJ4DTY6DFEADFQ Syllogism

    I will burn my google accounts (plural) and I will also go to another search engine.  Was considering Android. Pass.  YouTube – bye.  

  • http://steveg.com/ SteveG

    It may not be scientific, but I’m seeing more and more threads about this on non tech forums.. And overwhelming people are fed up with Google and switching.. It’s rare that anyone on those forums supports Google any more..

    they may not be actively closing their accounts, but they are using other browsers and search engines..

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