Sentenced For Circling: Google+ Invite Puts Man Behind Bars

A Salem man who had a restraining order against him may have circled himself direct to jail, thanks to a Google+ invitation. According to The Salem News, the accused man, Thomas Gagnon, had an active restraining order against him that prohibited him from contacting his ex-girlfriend. The Google+ invite was printed out by the ex, taken to court and an arrest warrant was issued.

Here’s where the story turns, however. According to the report, Gagnon’s lawyer, Neil Hourihan, insists that an invite wasn’t sent and that the complaint was “absolutely unfounded.” This is very plausible as we know just how aggressively Google promotes Google+. There are many options that allow for connection between previously used services that could automatically generate emails.


Additionally, it is very possible that Mr. Gagnon simply added his ex to his circles with no intent of ever communicating with her (maybe even a circle such as “never contact.”) If the ex-girlfriend was active on Google+, she may simply see an alert that she had been added to a circle by Mr. Gagnon. However, if the ex-girlfriend didn’t have an account, she would receive a message similar to:


As you can see, the message comes as a customized invitation when, in reality, someone was simply added to a circle. Google does not warn users that this will be generated on their behalf when adding users; it’s a marketing ploy.

Did Mr. Gagnon really mean to invite his ex to join Google+? Not likely. Was he simply adding her to a circle with no knowledge that it would create a customized email on his behalf? It’s probable.

These auto-generated email issues are known privacy problems and are simply chalked up to the Plusification of Google and its aggressive marketing tactics. Does adding an email to a circle really mean that you are inviting someone to Google+? Not in the eyes of most sane humans.

So, if you’ve been served a restraining order, you’d be best suited to not associate with the other party on social networks … especially if they’re run by Google.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Google: Google+


About The Author: is the Director of Marketing for Cypress North, a company that specializes in social media and search marketing services and web-based application development. He has been in the Internet marketing industry for 6+ years and specializes in Social Media Marketing. You can also find Greg on Twitter (@gregfinn) or LinkedIn.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn

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  • Donna J.Marn

    No means No..

  • Colin Guidi

    “Does adding an email to a circle really mean that you are inviting someone to Google+? Not in the eyes of most sane humans.”

    Well put ;)

  • Lalit Kapur

    I think that this episode, more than anything else, raises the important issue of personal privacy and its impact on the marketing strategies being used these days — It is a moot question as to whether the person in question violated the dictum — what is important is that the social media site was able to circumvent the firewalls (if at all there were any) to send such a personalized looking invite!

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