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Will your social circle(s) relish Google+?

Google+ Circles

Online behemoth Google is taking a swing at arch-rival Facebook with the launch of Google+, which plans to bring social networking to its stable. But has it got the meat to take on Facebook?

Google+ aims to answer a dilemma we’ve all faced; namely that what you’d share with your best friend is a far cry from what you’d tell your boss.

To that end Google has launched Google+, a suite of online services that lets you create private groups of close friends, discuss your passions with like-minded individuals or simply hangout in a virtual lounge.

My Circle of friends

The lynchpin of Google+ is Google Circles, which is designed to make it easier to organise friends, families and colleagues into small, easy to manage groups. It’s a great idea, although Facebook does offer similar functionality.

I’m fresh(ish) back from Glastonbury. Before going, a group of us set up a private Facebook page so we could make plans for travelling to the site. My sister also requested we post status updates to see how we were doing, with one such update including a picture of me in orange face paint I’d rather my colleagues didn’t see!

Setting up a private page is just one way you can filter your Facebook friends; you can also put them in groups for separate privacy settings. But, to be honest, it’s all a bit of a faff. Creating circles of friends is the foundation of Google+ and it definitely looks more seamless than Facebook’s work around.

Strike up a conversation about anything

Sparks is intended to let you share your passion about ‘pretty much anything’. Over the weekend, I’ve enjoyed doing just that in ‘real life’ as just about anyone at the festival opened up about their passions for music, comedy and more.

It’s also easy to do online – I’ve previously written about how some of the virtual friends I’ve met in an online writing community have befriended me on Facebook. But again, Google’s way of doing things looks much more effortless. It’s leveraged its search engine expertise to bring you all the content related to your interests, which you can then share with other “nerds”.

Google’s +Hangouts makes things more sociable, by letting you create a live multi-person video room, where you can drop in and out of group discussions. Think Skype video conferencing, but web browser based and free (you don’t need to download additional software and Skype charges for video conferencing).

I like it. What better way for my friends and I to reminisce about a great weekend now that we’ve spread back out around the country but want the festival to live on?

Google+ looks promising

In the past I’ve been cynical about Google and have had concerns about its treatment of personal information. But first impressions of Google+ are good.

My Facebook circle of ‘friends’ is far bigger than the one I have in real life. The chance to easily create intimate groups online that more accurately reflect my friendship group is welcome – I’ll be watching this space with interest, as I am sure will Facebook.


I’m going to stick with Facebook – I don’t really mind people seeing what I post (and yes, I’m Facebook friends with people from work, family and friends). If I don’t want people to see things I write, I either use direct messages or just don’t post it. I might be a sheep, but I’m not switching until all my friends have deserted FB for Google+, in which case I’ll have no choice. In the meantime, I’ll live with the fact that my friends, mum and boss can all interact with each other – that’s part of the fun!

And anyway, we’re kidding ourselves if we think Facebook is solely for sharing experiences with friends with the same interests. For me, it has at least three equally important uses:

– To find out more about what friends are interested in, and maybe even get involved in new activities and hobbies that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered
– To show off about stuff I’ve been doing (especially to the people who weren’t there…)
– To snoop on friends, gleaning information I wouldn’t normally dare ask about.

Isn’t half thepoint of Facebook the vicarious voyeurism that goes with it? I don’t want to lock that down.

ZDNet writes that Facebook is in the top 10 most hated companies in America, with common complaints including privacy issues, frequent interface changes, and accidental account deletion


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I’ve had a bit of a play with Google+ and it does look slick, easy and nicer than facebook. My main problem with it though is that it’s going to require a lot of initial admin (putting all my friends into circles) and behaviour change (until my facebook friends all migrate, I have to add another thing to my list of sites to check in the morning). It’s good, and it’ll get better, but it won’t kill facebook until people start migrating.

keith hodges says:
5 July 2011

No way…. being Google It will probably be very good, but I’m not into splitting up contacts into groups – the simple solution will always work best for me.

If you want to create a group/club/restricted circle it might be for you, but having running 5+ groups is only really for the anorak control freak brigades!

It’s a “Me too….!”
scenario – with everyone and his dog wanted a piece of Facebook’s pie.

Will I use it?

NO, but then I hate Facebook and all the copies; but am a user of Gmail due to the massive size of the in-box. eg: virgin (NTL) was 10mb
All incoming files managed to block up the account like a toilet full of hand towels.

Gmail offers 7.8 GB
and no nonsense (you can opt of of ads and tracking cookies)

It will interesting to see what features Google offer to trounce Facebook (well overdue in my opinion)

Google+ sounds better than Facebook for people like me, who find Facebook’s all-or-nothing approach too broad-brush. But I’m a relatively old fogey, and don’t make much use of social networking anyhoo. I guess it’s a question of how many Facebook users are prepared to migrate.

OTOH, Google is well on its way to becoming a grand hate figure itself – the bigger they get, the more power they have and the more intimidating they feel.

S. Pellright says:
5 July 2011

I think Google should stick to making an entrance before they tackle an enterance which is a diffrent kettle of fish.

Sorry for the typo in the Tech newsletter =)

Google is welcome. Time will tell what service they provide, but its very early days to see how social networks evovle. In time, there will be multple just as there are multiple social classes. In time we will all belong to more than one social community as we do now in real life.

Facebook is for chavs, driven by the worst of human motives, including profit and advertising. Google is more service orientated. Google’s social network will follow the model of maps. Google will profit by adding value

As Martyn says, there will be a watershed. So worth keeping facebook until we see what emerges and how social networks shape up.

The really interesting part to this, which Martin alluded to, is motivation. Google are an advertising company, their interest is in having people view and click through on adverts.

The more Google diversify their pure search offering they encroach upon the business areas of those advertisers who fund them.

The Google search results for credit cards (http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=credit+card) show ‘Google Credit Card Comparison’ is the top result, and in a more opaque way this online fashion boutique http://www.boutiques.com/ owned by Google shows their diversification in practice.

My view is there is inevitability about Google+ and the Google +1 button becoming the default social network of our times. Just as Google have become the verb for searching on the internet they will seek to maximise their value by having Google+ become the noun place on the internet.

An interesting article on how News International took a half-billion dollar loss on MySpace, and why it may have happened because of increased commercialisation. Are we about to see the demise of Facebook, and eventually Google as their pervasiness makes people uneasy.

I should point out that the US Patriot Act applies to all US firms and their information whether home or overseas. Personally I am not happy with all my details being open to the US government so you will never get me to use a service such as these unless it is domiciled in a country that does have privacy laws that work.

Summary: Officer Robert Collins tells the story of how the Maryland Division of Corrections demanded his Facebook login credentials during a recertification interview.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has taken up the cause of Officer Robert Collins, a Maryland man who was forced to hand over his Facebook login credentials during a recertification interview with the Maryland Division of Corrections (DOC). Collins took the time to describe what happened in his specific case in a video on YouTube.


It seems there is a monster on the loose in terms of what might be thought of as private is actually being seen to be public. ANd also apparently in the US virtually all job seekers need to bear in mind not only what their Facebook profile reveals but all of their Facebook friends.

Its a social disaster aided and abetted by the media.