Google Plus is over: it will say goodbye next year
When Alphabet put their Google+ online, the company was trying to snatch some slices of the cake called social networks from Facebook. Perhaps the most successful year of Google Plus was the first one, due to the expectations generated among users.
However, things did not work as Google expected. After the second year, their social network began a nosedive.
Now, a scandal concerning user´s privacy in Google Plus hit the technological giant. It seems they have found the best excuse to end the agony of their failed social network.
The grey social network
The reason why I opened a Google Plus account was a recommendation. From who? The New York Times SEO specialist that was working to improve the digital platform of the company. His advice was this: you need to post on Google Plus to rank your content better.
Logically, if Google wanted to compete in the social media market, they would privilege the content of Google Plus in its search engine. So, algorithms started working to show Google Plus content at the first opportunity.
If that were not enough, as soon as you created a Gmail account, a Google Plus account was automatically created as well. Several features of YouTube were only available if you had a profile on this social network and the android phones had it installed by default.
You would even see Google Plus in your soup. So, several companies, bloggers and curious users began to open their profiles.
However, opening an account on Google Plus was somewhat disappointing. For example, its operation was unintuitive, its interface gray and unattractive. It looked like a bad copy of Facebook with the colors of Gmail.
To make connections with other Google Plus users, you had to create circles, but those circles looked like cemeteries. No one interacted unless you were added to a community. Everything else was a copy paste of articles and marketing to keep the Google Plus profile of several companies alive.
In a statement published last October 8th, the company refers to the poor performance of their social network: "over the years, Google+ has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption and has seen limited user interaction with apps. The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds"
I remember that my posts there were automatic. I was just following my company's SEO strategy. However, I did not spend more than a minute on Google Plus each time.
I knew that the users did not react on Google Plus. It was unworthy making any effort to get users' attention and make them interact with my content. I think several companies had the same experience.
After a while, I forgot Google Plus and the company I worked for too. We knew that this was an anticipated end of the platform. Sooner or later, Google would make a decision like the one they announced this year: Google Plus will close in August 2019. Why had they waited for so long?
The Google Plus scandal
When it seemed that Google would be safe from a scandal like the one that involved Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the wind blew against Alphabet. The reason, a failure in the data protection of at least 500 thousand users.
The most shocking is that this privacy fail was present since 2015 and was only detected and fixed in March 2018. According to reports from Reuters, several external developers would have had access to seemingly hidden data. They got access to identity information of thousands of Google plus users.
Despite this, the company chose to remain silent for several months without reporting what happened. According to Google, information about this was not released because the severity of the case was not so extreme based on its security protocols.
However, it is suspected that Google tried to escape from the storm that surrounded Facebook. Google tried to go unnoticed by the American authorities. Several security experts question this attitude because regardless of the severity of the failure, users have the right to know what is happening with their private information.
Google tried to calm down these criticisms by saying that the developers who had access to the data did not exploit it, therefore, the privacy of the users was not at risk anytime.
After the scandal, Google announced that new policies have been introduced to restrict data to mobile application developers in Google Play. Also, installed applications will no be able to access calls or text messages on mobile phones unless the user allows it. Neither Gmail add-ons will be able to sell user data.
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A lost battle
We could say that Google lost the battle before going to war when trying to make an unsuccessful replica of Facebook. For example, they try to apply the same model characteristics by offering options like the "timeline" from Zuckerberg's social network.
Also, when Facebook launched a feature to allow its users to link various applications to their account, Google Plus did the same. The result was the lack of privacy that has Google in the middle of a possible storm in the courts.
The intention of its creators was that Google Plus behaved as a platform to privilege the privacy of the user so that he had more control over their interactions. However, this made the management of the social network much more confusing.
Nor did it help the fact that Google Plus never managed to develop its own identity to match with its users.
What will happen with Google Plus
As we already mentioned, the company has decided to cancel the free version of Google Plus. However, it will still be available for companies that use Google Suite. But only as an option to be used in an internal network.
Google has reported that the closure of its social network is due to the recent vulnerability detected in the platform. However, the company also admitted that Google Plus never managed to take off. It stopped being an option for social network users. We can think that this is the most congruent version that explains why Google Plus will be offline the next year.
Do you think that Alphabet will ventures again to conquer social networks?