Earlier this month, Google announced it was pulling the plug on its social interaction platform, Google+. By way of a blog announcement, Google described its action as, “sunsetting consumer Google+” an initiative that sounds almost poetic, and not a bit like what really happened.
In fact, more than six months ago, Google discovered a security flaw—a software glitch–in Google+. Between 2015 and March of 2018 when the glitch was fixed, the failing exposed the personal profile data of as many as a half million Google+ users. Google looked into the issue and determined that data was exposed but not necessarily breached.
All right, we’ve all developed some tolerance for the fact that not everything is going to run seamlessly in cyberspace. But when mistakes happen involving our personal data, we have every right to expect that the problem will be corrected, AND we will be informed of the mishap.
Instead, according to the Wall Street Journal, Google’s legal and policy staff shared a memo with Google senior executives, warning that, “disclosing the incident would likely trigger immediate regulatory interest and invite comparisons to Facebook’s leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica.”
Not good Google and we probably haven’t heard the last of this.
The Writing on the Wall / When Are You Going to Come Down?
Predictable and anticlimactic.
In fact, Google+ had problems far greater than its security issues.
Long before the unreported software glitch exposed by the Wall Street Journal came to light, many journalists and tech writers characterized Google+ as being on life support.
Larry Page is CEO of Alphabet, Inc., Google’s parent company. His last Google+ post was in August of 2015. Sundar Pichai is CEO of Google, Inc. He stopped posting on Google+ in March of 2016. And Alphabet Co-Founder and President, Sergey Brin, stopped posting more than a year ago, in September of 2017.
That’s right, some of Google’s own top executives had lost interest in Google+ and turned to other social media platforms instead. Nevertheless, although Google+ suffered from low adoption rates and infrequent use by many who did have active accounts, as Mashable pointed out in a January 2017 article, there are, “oddly specific communities that are really active on Google+”. Included in these groups were ‘bread enthusiasts’ (bread makers and bread lovers), board game fans and photographers who specialize in photographing tiny toys, such as Lego men.
Given how much Google does really well, we can only deduce that it might be hard to create and manage a successful social media site. Really hard, and a lot more challenging than most of us give Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and others credit for doing as well as they do.