Google+, Picasa Web Albums and Blogger, a Cautionary Tale
Had a kind of amazingly bad and frustrating experience related to Google+, probably my first ever Google “epic fail,” and this seemed to be an appropriate place to document it.
When I signed up for Google+ a couple of weeks ago, I – like everyone else – was immediately hit with that “Google+ is integrated with Picasa” screen, and the only options at that point were to turn back on the future of social networking or agree to this linkage and continue. I continued.
A little seemingly-unrelated but critical background: For the last five years, I’ve maintained a personal parenting blog on Blogger. It’s not particularly active these days, mainly was used to document little moments with our kids when they were younger. I never associated it with my name publicly on the Web because the posts were primarily family-related, written for a small circle of relatives and friends, and all four members of our little household felt more comfortable with it that way.
As soon as I completed the Google+ sign-on process, I was presented with a page showing my “Picasa Web Albums,” or some similar language, and right there staring back at me was a folder that shared the name of my parenting blog and contained about 130 photos. I had never created this album, the photos I posted to the blog were all uploaded through Blogger and, to me, that was where they lived.
Given the privacy issues with social networks generally, confusion over settings and the frequently shifting dynamics around who can see what, and where, I didn’t particularly want a Picasa Web Album with photos of my kids and the name of my personal parenting blog associated with my public Google+ account – so I deleted that folder. It was very easily done, I got one “are you sure?” pop-up box and said, in effect, “Yeah, I’m sure. Those photos live somewhere else, I don’t need them here as well.”
Didn’t give it another thought, until yesterday, when I went to my old neglected blog to find a pancake recipe I had posted and noticed that there were blank boxes where all the photos used to be. Click on a box and an error message (shown in this post) pops up. A little poking around through help forums indicated that I wasn’t alone in this, it seems others have gone through the same process and also unwittingly lost years of blog photos. I can’t decide whether that makes me feel better, or worse.
Here’s one thread I found:http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Picasa/thread?tid=187a486b42253bd0&hl=en
If there had been a simple screen or notification saying that if I proceeded to delete the photos in this Picasa Web Album – which I had never created or uploaded to or – in my mind – had anything to do with – they would also be permanently removed from the personal blog I had carefully tended to for several years… well, I think it’s safe to say I would not have hit that delete button.
I guess there is no recourse here, one of the threads I found had a comment from someone apparently associated with Google saying that yes, if you delete the photos in these Picasa albums they are gone, forever, from everywhere, and we’ll try to be more clear about that in the future. I find it hard to believe there's no back-up living somewhere capable of restoring these photos, but try getting that kind of personalized customer support out of Mountain View. I guess I could go through our iPhoto archives and try to piece together and rebuild the graphics associated with a few hundred posts, but I’ll probably just let it go and move on.
Google+ is getting great reviews and growing in popularity, hopefully this account will help others avoid this extremely frustrating situation.
Paging Marissa Mayer…