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Do I Need to Have a Google+ Profile to Use Picasa?

Question: Leo, do you know what the risks of having a Google+ profile are? I’ve always avoided LinkedIn, Facebook, and all the others. Now, to see the photos that I have paid to store on Picasa, I needed to create a Google+ profile. All of a sudden, I’m a social networker against my will. Yes, perhaps I’m a Luddite, but I paid Google for storage not to enter the 21st century. By the way, I filled in false information at every opportunity and added no contacts. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before Google decides to add them for me. The bottom line is can I opt out of Google+ and keep my photos on Picasa? Or do I need another cloud storage site for my photos and docs?

Your question contains a couple of interesting concerns that I would like to address.

Let’s start by talking about social media.

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The nature of social media

You mentioned that you’re not a social person and that you’re staying away from social sites.

Yet, you signed up for a Picasa account. Are you using it to share images with very close friends? If so, that’s a form of social media.

I understand what you’re saying. You don’t want to share personal information about yourself with the whole world. And you probably don’t have the time to read about what people had for dinner or see their cat photos.

But there are a wide variety of social media sites and many have different goals. Their common thread is that users share information. LinkedIn is a social media site where people share information about their professional experience while Facebook is a site for family, friends, and acquaintances to share details about their lives.

Picasa is where you share pictures with family and friends. That means, you’re already using social media.

Linked accounts

Many service providers take their cue from social media. These days, when you create an account for free email or picture storage with a service provider (like Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google, or any other vendor that provides multiple services), you’re usually creating an account that has access to all of their other services, whether you use them or not.

For instance, let’s say you ditched your Picasa account and signed up for Flickr. The thing is that they’re owned by Yahoo! so when you open a Flickr account, you also have access to Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Groups, or any other service that Yahoo! provides.

PicasaGoogle, Picasa, and Google+

In your case, I don’t think you’re creating a Google+ profile specifically.

Google will ask you to create a profile and it requests your name and as much personal information as you’re willing to divulge. That way, when you share your pictures, people know who took them.

And yes, Google is pushing Google+. They’re trying to compete with services like Facebook. When you create a profile in Google, it’s labeled Google+.

The same thing happens to anyone who signs up for email or any other Google service. They all have a profile and that happens to be Google+ labeled, whether they use it or even visit the site.

What Google really knows

If you’re concerned with privacy, filling in the Google profile with false information is probably okay. Nonetheless,  don’t be surprised when Google starts suggesting people that you actually know.

It’s kind of spooky, but it’s very possible that Google tracks what interactions you’re having (even just through your Picasa account). If someone looks at your pictures often or you look at theirs, Google may recommend that person to you as a connection in Google+.

Like I said, Google is pushing Google+, so I understand that from a business perspective.

Nothing says you actually have to use it. Nothing says you have to fill out your profile completely.

Falsifying accounts

If you’re filling your account with false information, there may be some legalese in the terms of service for Google (or Yahoo, Microsoft, or any other service provider) that says they may terminate your account if you enter false information.

Frankly, I’ve never heard of any service proactively checking profiles or closing user accounts because of false information. I’ve had a couple of accounts with false names for a long time. I don’t worry about them, but there is always the possibility that someone will figure it out.

The only downside would be if you lose access to your account for some reason and the provider asks you to verify your account using the falsified information. If you don’t know it because you entered in random answers, you may lose access to your account.

In that case, just make sure that everything’s backed up. Make sure that Picasa isn’t the only place where you have those photos. Do that and you should be fine.

Is social media inevitable?

Ultimately, I suspect that you’ll probably have a difficult time finding a good photo service that doesn’t have some social relationship with other services. They will ask you to participate at a deeper level, as Google is doing.

Just remember that the key word here is ask. Nothing says that if you use a Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft service, you have to use any of the other services that they offer.

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3 comments on “Do I Need to Have a Google+ Profile to Use Picasa?”

  1. so it sounds like the answer is yes, if he wants to get away from the annoying google plus popups and incessant nagging to join, he needs to use a different site to store his photos. he probably downloaded picasa for the same reason i did – to edit photos and wants nothing to do with sharing them online.

  2. One thing I tell people who are phobic about social media accounts such as Facebook and Google Plus: People can only see what you post, and if you set up an account and don’t post anything to it, nobody will see anything you don’t want them to.
    I usually say this to people whose children make them get a FB account in order to be able to see pix of the grandchildren etc., but it also applies to setting up an account to gain access to services which require a social media account..

  3. Leo, Ed asked a very direct question. It was never answered. DO YOU HAVE TO HAVE A GOOGLE ACCOUNT TO USE THE PICASA POTO EDITOR? I, like Ed, just want a free download to be able to touch up my photos. Is that possible?


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