Miss Google+?

Google is shutting down its social network after eight years


Why Google's social network was a spectacular failure

It was supposed to be the next big social network: a legitimate threat to the Facebook ( ) juggernaut. But on Monday, Google ( , ) announced it would shut down Google+ over the next 10 months following revelations of a massive data breach affecting 500,000 users, putting an end to one of the company's biggest failures and deepest embarrassments to date.

In 2011, Google launched Google+ after an aggressive 100-day scramble internally to create a social network that would "fix" online sharing, which the company described then as "awkward" and "broken.

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RIP Google+: will you miss Google's social network?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

When Google+ was launched eight years ago, it was painted as a challenger to Facebook. However, Facebook is still standing - and standing strong. Google+ will be no more.

Some mourn its loss, arguing that the social network will be greatly missed.

However, Google+ has been branded as a "spectacular failure" and it is not surprising that it has been discontinued.

The Claim

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols says he will miss Google+, calling it "the best of all social networks".

He thought that Google+ would displace Facebook, and while admitting he was wrong, Vaughan-Nichols is still disappointed by its closure.

He praises how the social network gave users greater control over their messages - they were able to delete message threads, individual messages, and block trolls with the greatest of ease. He says you cannot do anything of these effectively on other social networks.

He argues: "So why do I still love it? Because while Facebook is great for seeing pictures of my grandkids, Twitter is good for keeping track of news as it's happening, and LinkedIn is dandy for business connections, Google+ was the one network where I could have intelligent conversations about technology."

Vaughan-Nichols concludes: "Still, as someone who values intelligent online communication, I'm going to miss Google+ a lot.

"There may have only been a handful of us left on the platform, but those loyal few of us who were left really liked it a lot."

The Counterclaim

Yahoo Finance's JP Mangalindan, on the other hand, calls Google+ a "spectacular failure". He argues that the problem for the social network seemed clear: "Google viewed social more like a tacked-on feature and didn’t understand what made social networks communities unto themselves."

While Google+ attempted to challenge Facebook, Mangalindan says that it "lacked the indefinable sense of virtual intimacy". It did not copy Facebook's successful features enough, nor did it roll out enough of its own features to stand apart from its rival.

He argues: "On Facebook, many of those suggested friends were likely real-life friends, family, and coworkers.

"Google+ lacked that same feeling of familiarity, pulling recommended friends from your Gmail contacts: a massive database of people that could even include distant contacts you emailed once or twice.

"It wasn’t uncommon to get a slew of friend recommendations of people you didn’t want to befriend online at all."

Mangalindan does not find it surprising that Google is finally shutting down the social network, but wonders why it took the company so long.

The Facts

Google+ was launched to great fanfare in June 2011. The social network was meant to rival Facebook, but eight years later, it has been discontinued.

According to Tech Crunch, it was not Google’s first foray into social - it tried and failed with Orkut, Google Friend Connect, and Google Buzz.

The new social network allowed users to create groups of contacts, called 'Circles'. It allowed them to have more control over what they were sharing on their account - for instance, you could have a specific family Circle, sharing content appropriate for them, and have another for friends or colleagues.

Another feature was 'Sparks', which helped users find news and content related to a their particular interests. It also had 'Hangouts' - a video chat that allowed up to 10 people in one of the Circles to chat at once.

It also featured a "+1 button" which allowed people to recommend sites and posts, similar to Facebook's like button.

Within a fortnight of its launch, 10 million people had signed up to use Google+. A month later, it had grown to 25 million - and by the end of the year, it had reached 90 million users.

Google+ claimed it had 300 million monthly active users in late 2013, but this number plummeted two years later to 111 million.

Towards the end of its life, the social network was a ghost town with 90 per cent of visits lasting less than five seconds.

The company announced in October that it would end Google+ after finding a bug that exposed user data from 52.5 million accounts. Google said it doesn't have any evidence that the data was misused during that time, or that Google+ was compromised by a third party - but said it would end the social network on April 2.

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Nonplussed: Why I'll miss Google+, the best of all social networks | ZDNet

My first reaction to hearing that Google was closing down its Google+ social network was: "WTH!" But after a moment's thought I understood why they did it and it's not the reason Google gave for shutting it down.

Yes, Google admitted that there was a security hole in the Google+ People application programming interface (API). And, yes, it's possible that 500,000 users' data was exposed by this hole.

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