Dear Google+

Earlier today I noticed something funny. My Google profile picture — the picture associated with my Gmail account, my GChat account, my Google+ account, etc — had vanished. A bug? Nope.

It turns out, Google — without telling me — went into my account and deleted my profile picture. Why? Because I am giving the middle finger in it. See: above.

While ridiculous prudish, I figured this was probably the case so I uploaded the picture again to make sure. Sure enough, gone. At least this time, Googler Alex Joseph left a comment as to why:

As the first point of interaction with a user’s profile, all profile photos on Google+ are reviewed to make sure they are in line with our User Content and Conduct Policy. Our policy page states, “Your Profile Picture cannot include mature or offensive content.” Your profile photo was taken down as a violation of this policy. If you have further questions about the policies on Google+ you can visit http://www.google.com/intl/en/+/policy/content.html, or click the “Content Policy” link located in the footer of Google+ pages. 

My problem isn’t so much with the fact that I couldn’t have a profile picture of myself giving everyone the finger — which I can and do on Twitter and elsewhere — it’s that no one bothered to tell me or warn me before they just went into my account and deleted the picture. What if this was the only place I had stored the picture? 

Bigger picture: this seems like a ridiculous thing for Google to be policing. At first, they were all about ensuring that everyone was using their real name on Google+. After a shit storm about why that was stupid, they backed off. They should back off here as well because, honestly, who gives a shit? If my profile picture offends people, let them un-Circle me or whatever.

This also seems like a slippery slope. In certain cultures, various hand gestures mean different things. Is Google also going to delete my profile picture if I have my fingers up to my chin, for example? 

If I were Google, I would be much more concerned about the rampant spam problem currently plaguing Google+. Flag and delete those fuckers — not the fine, upstanding citizens of your network who just want to have a little PG-13 fun. 

Anyway, I’ve fixed my attitude and uploaded a picture (below) which should hopefully be in line with the terms of service no one actually reads anyway: