Should Google Resurrect Google+ from its Graveyard?

Twitter, the social media platform that distinctively shaped the cultural zeitgeist, has turned into a chaotic dumpster fire. While the company was not exactly in good financial health before Elon Musk took over, it has since descended into an absolute corporate squabble. None of this is to say that the platform was all unholy.

Source: TechCrunch

Twitter helped employees build and maintain a personal brand, journalists did their research on Twitter, researchers followed other academics on the platform and environmentalists mapped forest fires worldwide. What would the loss of the microblogging platform mean for users? And more importantly, is there another social media platform that can replace it?

tumblr is reportedly seeing a wave of users coming in through Twitter and a decentralized social network Mastodonthat markets itself as an alternative to Twitter, is also having its moment in the sun with the platform’s monthly active users passing the 1 million mark earlier this month. The waiting list for someone else decentralized social media platform, Blue sky social, saw more than 30,000 signups in two days at the beginning of the month. Bluesky is technically an offshoot of Twitter and was commissioned by Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey.

Origin of Google+

People come up with their own suggestions on what can fill the Twitter-shaped hole on Twitter (ironically enough) and some familiar names come up. Can Google reviving its latest attempt at a social media platform, Google+?

The interface of Google+, Source: Failory.com

Google officially pulled the plug on its much-discussed Google+ service in early 2019, but the closure was announced two years earlier. When launched in 2011, Google’s new social networking site was expected to be an aggressive response to competitors like Facebook and Twitter.

Google was figuring out how to deal with the challenges of social media companies and was excited to keep up. Amit Singhal, a former Google search engine, discussed how the internet was beginning to organize around people and the company needed to turn its attention to building a personalized hub of social activity for users. Singhal then remarked that Facebook it seemed like it was ahead of its time and maybe even building an alternative to the traditional internet with itself at its center.

While it seems like a new kind of internet has emerged with the advent of social media companies, the race for social media platforms has turned out to be much trickier than previously thought. Facebook has switched to a new branding below meta with their focus on the other way around in light of their social media business falling behind newer competitors like TikTok. With Twitter in crisis, the race is wide open.

Google+ was eventually phased out due to “low usage,” but the truth was it became a security liability Google. Around the same time as Facebook’s infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company uncovered two substantial data breaches that could have potentially exposed the personal data of tens of millions of Google+ users to third-party developers.

During the first incident, which Google kept secret for months, the company decided to permanently stop Google+. After the second incident, the company accelerated its shutdown plans by four months, forcing the division to close in April instead of August.

But did this mean that Google had simply withdrawn from the social media race?

Google’s sneaky social features

from Google companies were more complex than that – it tends to close off parts that often coalesce elsewhere. For example, Google later announced that it would revive a version of Google+ for its G Suite platform. This means that the old Google+ apps for Android and iOS were renamed Google Currents and remained in use only for business customers. Currents started in April 2019 after Google+ shut down, but was essentially the same as the social media network. The plan made a lot of sense because it is typical for companies to have internal communication platforms.

It also didn’t seem like Google was willing to completely abandon their plans for an ecosystem. Either way, the tech giant built systems designed to have users within its products and services rather than jumping on a traditional social service.

In certain areas, this intention was even more apparent. Google has added a full-fledged social stream to it Cards app (Android and iOS systems) that appears more or less as a feed of photos, posts, and reviews. Users can follow restaurants, publisher articles, and other useful information and tailor their feed to their interests.

Even when users share photos or videos from the Google Photos app, they can post it through a social or messaging service and can instead share it directly, just like an ongoing or private conversation in the app. Users can also like or comment on posts that others are sharing. Google Pay, the company’s payment transfer app, also launched as “designed around your relationships with people and businesses,” according to their blog.

An executive mention in an interview that: “All your assignments revolve around people, groups and companies.” So while the features aren’t explicitly advertised as social media-like, they inherently are. Social media as a whole may still be out of reach Google but social characteristics are still not. But if there’s a time to turn things around, this might be it.

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