Earlier this week, Google announced that its proprietary social networking platform Google+ is going to be shelved. This followed the revelation that up to half a million accounts could have been compromised, leaving users more vulnerable to fraud; a fact the company failed to disclose in a timely manner.
The statement was candid regarding the channel’s low usership figures, citing that 90 per cent of its sessions last less than five seconds. Given that the number of active users is only estimated to be between 4 to 6 million in the first place, by my maths that’s…well, not very many. Certainly paling in comparison to Facebook’s, which is in excess of 2 billion.
Considering the fact that the particulars of the data breach echo those of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, there hasn’t been that much of a to-do. Granted, there’s been the razzle-dazzle of the #MadeByGoogle conference and the unveiling of the Google Pixel 3 to distract attention (well played, Google), but there has certainly felt like a marked difference in the level of public outcry.
This near-indifference (save for a few die-hard fans) is indicative of the channel’s decline in usership and ultimately, importance. While its launch in 2011 heralded “something big” and “more than just a social product”, it has since been dogged with naysayers and negativity. Certainly, the social media community has long spurned it, at the very most citing residual search benefits as a potential reason to maintain some low-level activity on the channel. Many a blog has featured one of the ubiquitous opinion pieces asking whether Google+ is finally dead.
At one point, Google tried desperately to resuscitate Plus, giving it a lifeline by inextricably linking some of its products to a Google+ account. For a time, you couldn’t sign up to Gmail without creating a Google+ account, and YouTube comments were published via the platform. But they eventually rolled that back after users made their displeasure known. Even the executives stopped using it more than three years ago, making it Google’s true ‘unloved child’.
It could take around 10 months for Google+ to fully shelve the product, so in the meantime, it’s best to shut down your account (or in the case of corporate accounts: track down which executive or work experience kid set it up in the first place and delete). To do so, simply login and navigate to your settings. Select ‘Delete your Google+ profile’.
It won’t be resting in peace for a while, though. Some see the recent data breach as the perfect excuse to can the floundering product, but at a time when consumer trust is at a premium, Google, or its parent company, Alphabet, could continue to feel the impact long after everyone’s forgotten about the channel itself. Even before the death knell has finished tolling, there have already been calls for an official investigation…
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