What happened to Google+?

Even if you didn’t personally use Google+, you’ve most likely at least heard the name. You may have even heard about a security breach leading to the shut down of the platform no one quite knew how to use. Find out what happened and how it affects your data.

Google+ was one of those things you created, didn’t quite get the point of and conveniently forgot the login details for and never used again. Launched in 2011, everyone was under the impression Google+ was built to rival the likes of Facebook—but it didn’t. Then, in 2018, Google announced Google+ would be no more.

So, what happened? Why was the lord of online search, who normally nails user experience, so bad at creating a social media network? The truth may lie in the fact that Google+ was not ever intended to be a social media platform, and definitely was not meant to rival where you spent your evenings watching long-forgotten Vines. Here’s the gossip on Google+ you need to know.  

Two girls gossiping about Google+

What was Google+?

Here’s something for you; Google+ was not meant to be a social media platform. The CEO of Google in 2011, Eric Schmidt, said Google+ was an identity service…uh, what? Pretty much, Google+ was meant to be a gatekeeper to access all of Google’s other products like Gmail, YouTube, etc.

This was actually one of the pet hates for many people who used Google products. To create a YouTube account, you had to create a Google+. To get into your Gmail, you had to login with your Google+. Even when they launched Google My Business, it was linked to your Google+ profile. Knowing the platform was meant to be a central login for all the Google products makes sense why they were so insistent on people using real names and needing an account to even begin with.

This misunderstanding of what the platform was for is just the beginning of what went wrong.

What caused Google+ to fail?

Poor user experience.

Most people still believe (even after it being shut down) that Google+ was a social media platform. It probably explains why Google admitted 90% of Google+ users spent less than 5 seconds on the platform once they were logged in. You can’t really blame users who most likely thought they were logging into one thing and…well, got nothing close to a social networking site.

Sure, you could post on your account and share parts of your life, but most interactions were using it to log into something else. There was no real need to visit Google+.

The security breach.

You may be thinking, if the platform was meant to be used as an ID to log into other products, why was it such a big deal that people weren’t utilising their profiles? It didn’t seem like it was—and The Wall Street Journal came along.

A lot of security cameras

In 2018, The Wall Street Journal published a report revealing a chink in the Google+ armour. This report, stating Google was expecting to announce privacy reforms, came just minutes before a Google announcement about the findings of a security audit. The so called findings exposed a glitch, giving developers access to private data on Google+ accounts. Information like people’s names, gender, age, email, even what they did for a living, were exposed.

Even though Google patched the bug and claimed no data appeared to have been misused, people weren’t happy—and for good reason.

Did Google My Business replace Google+?

Many people believe Google My Business is a replacement for Google+, but when you know what they are, you can see they are two very different platforms. Google My Business provides businesses all over the world with a way to manage the information people see about their business on Google search results and Google Maps.

As we know, Google+ was an identity network. So, as you can see, they’re very different. One lets you show people your business contact information, products and services, latest posts and other fun info, while the other used to let you log into Google products, as well as post some stuff about your personal life.

If you’re a business and you don’t know about Google My Business, you need to read this.

What happened to your information if you had a Google+ account?

You’re probably reading this as you went to sign into your Google+ to grab some old photos and found yourself at a deadend. Unfortunately, any Google+ accounts still around were shut down on the 2nd April, 2019. This means if there’s any photos or information you had on there you now want, it’s long gone. But at least it means it’s not in the wrong hands, right?

You can learn more about the Google+ shut down on the Google+ Help page.

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