Are you f—ing kidding me?
There are currently a bunch of stories claiming that Google is "requiring" people to use Google+ because a Google+ profile is created for a user as soon as he or she signs up for another Google service (such as Gmail). The general message is something along the lines of "Google is clearly forcing Google+ on people by tightly integrating it with other Google services."

Let's think about this for a second though.

For starters, let's talk about what happens when you sign up for a new Gmail account and then head to plus.google.com. If you went through the motions right now, you would see what's in the screenshot attached to this post. That's right — a prompt asking you to create your public Google+ profile. In order to continue the profile creation process, you have to click a little button labeled "Upgrade." That's not exactly the fully automated process some are suggesting occurs.

Now, once you do have your Google+ profile all ready to go, you'll notice that it's linked to YouTube, Google Local, and other services. This is a terrible thing, according to some, because you might not want to connect your real identity to these services. Ok. No problem. There's a "Log Out" button in the top right corner.

See, the thing is that you can actually watch YouTube videos, read reviews on Google Local, get directions on Google Maps, and do almost anything you want on Google's sites and services without being logged into a Google account.

That's not quite true for some other sites and services, now is it?

For example, there are quite a few places on the Web which present you with a "like-gate," a roadblock which requires you to "like" a product, person, or brand on Facebook in order to view some content. At that point, not only is your real identity involved, but — unless you use some browser trick — you are actually forced to publicly claim that you "like" something in order to just look at a video, listen to a song, or read an article. Sound familiar? You've probably seen these "like-gates" on Facebook itself as well as on some third-party sites.

Now, compare preventing users from seeing content unless they click a "like" button to reminding them that they can create a Google+ when they sign up for another Google service. Which social network is being forced on users again?
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