In Memoriam: Google+ (2011-19)
Citing problems with another security bug, Google announced last week they’ve moved up the shutdown date for its ailing social media platform, Google+, from August 2019 to April 2019.
“We want to give users ample opportunity to transition off of consumer Google+,” said David Thacker Google’s VP for Product Management and G Suite.
“Over the coming months, we will continue to provide users with additional information, including ways they can safely and securely download and migrate their data.”
The fact is, only a handful of users remain on Google+, still creating “circles” of friends and connections. Pulling the plug a few months early won’t cause much user angst. Although we learned a lot from Google’s failed experiment, the Google+ death knell probably won’t make big headlines.
So, in anticipation of the end for a service with so much unfulfilled potential, I’ve penned an early eulogy for the soon-to-be defunct platform:
It seems like only a few short years ago when we were introduced to Google+.
Or is it Google Plus? I could never tell for sure how Google preferred its name to be written in stories like these. Honestly, I’m sure that “+” sign was an unfortunate design choice for Google, and always a little tricky when trying to brand the platform.
Now, I guess, it doesn’t really matter anymore.
It’s hard to write this and not get a little emotional. After all, Google+ was the little social media engine that almost could, always fighting an uphill climb against the social neighborhood rock stars (I’m looking at you, Facebook).
Even today, we see the legacy of Google’s platform on lists of social sharing buttons at the top of news articles and blog posts.
For example, if you’re reading this online on the desktop version at Vindy.com, look at the top of the page. Next to the Facebook “Share” and Twitter “Tweet” buttons, you might see the ghost of Google+ haunting us in the form of a social share icon.
We just didn’t appreciate Google+ when it was here, not as much as we appreciated other social media. In fact, Google told us that Google+ had such low usage and minimal engagement that in its last days, most of us were spending less than five seconds on the platform.
I’ll always remember that silly controversy over its “+1” buttons that appear at the top of some Google search results. The thought was that if you built a website using the “+1” button, you’d improve your Google rankings.
That didn’t really happen.
Instead, the “+1” option allowed us to discover new content, and help Google index that content for better search results. Some developers suggest that adding the “+1” button increased the time we spend on their sites.
So, while most of us won’t miss the friends and circles, there are some features that will live on as a legacy of the Google+ platform.
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Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is special assistant to the provost and professor of communication in the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA where he also directs the graduate program in professional communication. He researches and writes on a variety of topics including communication technologies, relationships, and sports (with an emphasis on fandom). His work has appeared in Mahoning Matters as well as The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers.