What happened to Google+ ?

What Happened To Google+ ?

Google+ (sometimes referred to as Google Plus or G+) was a social networking platform owned and operated by Google until 2019. It was introduced on June 28, 2011, with the intention of challenging existing social networks and integrating with various Google services like Google Drive, Blogger, and YouTube. This marked Google’s fourth attempt at entering the social networking arena. The platform initially witnessed significant growth, although usage metrics varied based on its definition. Throughout its existence, the platform was overseen by three Google executives and underwent substantial transformations, culminating in a major redesign in November 2015.

However, Google+ encountered challenges due to limited user engagement and the revelation of software design flaws that exposed the potential for external developers to access users’ personal information. As a result, the Google+ developer API was discontinued on March 7, 2019. Ultimately, Google+ was shut down for both business and personal usage on April 2, 2019. This marked the end of Google’s pursuit of a successful social networking platform, though the company continues to offer a range of integrated services and products within its broader ecosystem.

What is Google+ ?

What is Google+
Introduction and Evolution:

Google+, Google’s fourth venture into the realm of social networking, succeeded earlier attempts like Google Buzz (introduced in 2010, retired in 2011), Google Friend Connect (introduced in 2008, retired by March 2012), and Orkut (introduced in 2004, operated by Google Brazil until September 2014).

Debuting in June 2011, Google+ brought an array of features to the table. Users could share photos and status updates within streams or interest-based communities. Instead of the conventional “friends” grouping, Google+ introduced “Circles” to categorize diverse relationship types. It included the innovative Hangouts for multi-person instant messaging, text, and video chats, along with event management, location tagging, and the capacity to edit and upload photos to private cloud-based albums.

Facebook’s Response and Competition:

The emergence of Google+ as a social networking contender did not go unnoticed by Facebook. According to a 2016 book by a former Facebook employee, company leaders perceived Google+’s entry as a serious threat. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, initiated a “lockdown,” prompting employees to align Facebook’s offerings with Google+ features.

Varied Growth Assessments: 

Google+’s growth was evaluated through changing definitions. Initially identified as a social network, it later morphed into a “social layer” connecting across all Google services, enabling the sharing of user identity and interests. Google+ signups were often incidental to signing up for other Google services.

In 2011, Google+ gained 10 million users within two weeks, reaching 25 million within a month. By October 2011, user count stood at 40 million, per Larry Page. At 2011’s close, Google+ boasted 90 million users. In October 2013, about 540 million monthly active users engaged via Google+’s enhanced properties, including Gmail, the +1 button, and YouTube comments. Around 300 million users participated in the Google+ social-networking stream. Dominating markets were the United States followed by India.

Engagement Challenges: 

Engagement on Google+ fell short of competitors. In January 2012, users spent an average of only 3.3 minutes on the site compared to Facebook’s 7.5 hours. March 2013 saw an increase to about 7 minutes, while February 2014 witnessed The New York Times dubbing Google+ a “ghost town.” Despite the reported 540 million monthly active users, nearly half seldom visited. Google responded, indicating that Google+’s true value lay in consolidating user data across its services, rather than primarily rivaling Facebook.

What are the Features of Google+ ?

User Profile and Identity:

A Google+ user profile served as a publicly visible representation linked to various Google services. It encompassed features like a profile photo, an about section, cover photo, work and school history, interests, places lived, and a space for posting status updates. Identity service segments allowed linking to other online profiles, blogs, or contributor roles. Google+ profiles were also integrated with Google services like YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Android, and more.

Circles and Sharing:

The core feature of Circles enabled users to categorize connections into groups for targeted sharing across Google products. Initially organized through a drag-and-drop interface, this later transitioned to a checkbox system. Users could share private content specifically with certain circles, like colleagues or friends, maintaining control over content visibility. Public sharing was also an option.

Identity Services and Search Integration:

Google+ profiles became the foundation for various Google services, including YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Android, and more. Google Search incorporated content shared on Google+ profiles and brand pages through the “Search Plus Your World” feature, which was met with controversy due to its emphasis on Google+ content over other platforms.

Privacy and Engagement:

Privacy settings allowed users to reveal specific details to chosen circles. Users could also view who visited their profiles. The “+1 button” was a feature similar to Facebook’s Like button, letting users recommend sites and posts.

Google+ Pages and Communities:

Google+ Pages, introduced in 2011, allowed businesses to engage with fans. Communities, launched in 2012, facilitated ongoing discussions on specific topics.

Events and Discover:

Events enabled real-time photo and media sharing among users. The Discover page showcased trending posts from Google+ and the wider web.

Google Local and Photography:

Google combined Google Places and Google+ Local Business Pages into Google My Business in 2014. For photography, Google+ introduced features like Creative Kit (photo editor), Auto Awesome (special effects), Auto Enhance (photo improvements), and Auto-Backup (photo and video imports).

Collections and Deprecated Features:

“Collections” debuted in 2015, letting users curate content based on interests. Search within Google+ integrated content from profiles and around the web. Messenger (Huddle) facilitated instant messaging within Circles but was replaced by Hangouts. Sparks, Games, and Ripples were phased out, and Hangouts on Air was moved to YouTube Live. Features like What’s Hot, Photos, and Mentions underwent changes or removal in the November 2015 redesign.

What happened to Google + ?

What happened to Google+

Google+ faced a series of significant developments that led to its eventual discontinuation:

On October 8, 2018, Google disclosed its intention to discontinue the consumer version of Google+ by August 2019. This date was later adjusted to April 2, 2019. The primary reasons cited were low user engagement and challenges in meeting user expectations. Google highlighted that a substantial portion, around 90%, of user sessions lasted less than five seconds, indicating limited activity. Furthermore, Google acknowledged a vulnerability in an API that could potentially expose private user data. It clarified that no evidence was found of developers exploiting this flaw or misusing user profile data.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the data exposure issue was identified in the spring of 2018 but not reported by Google due to concerns about regulatory scrutiny. The incident was considered a significant setback for a product that was introduced in 2011 to challenge Facebook. The exposure effectively contributed to Google+’s downfall.

On December 10, 2018, Google revealed another API update that inadvertently exposed customer data for six days. Over 52.5 million users were impacted by this bug, which enabled external developers to access personal user information. Consequently, Google advanced the service’s shutdown date to April 2019 and announced the planned sunset of all Google+ APIs within 90 days.

For its business-oriented G Suite, Google replaced Google+ with a comparable tool named Currents, focusing on internal communication. In July 2019, following the closure of Google+, the company introduced Shoelace, an experimental social networking platform centered on local event organization. However, the COVID-19 pandemic led to Shoelace’s shutdown on May 12, 2020. Subsequently, on June 5, 2020, Google announced that Currents would replace Google+ for all G Suite customers from July 6, 2020. On February 10, 2022, Google disclosed plans to phase out Currents and transition users to Google Chat by 2023.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top