Competition in Social Networking: The Rise of Google+ and the Status of FaceBook

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It’s been seen all over the tech world news, people are increasingly displeased with FaceBook and their questionable privacy practices  as well as their increasing addition of new features without even a previous statement giving the user the opportunity to choose if they wish to implement them at this time. It has also been a well-known fact that, generally speaking, Google has not gotten the hang of social networking, just yet.

Thankfully, those days are now over. When Google announced its newest social networking initiative, Google+, most people were, of course, skeptical. After all, Buzz shared all of their contacts information and their own publicly and angered their users to no end. It also brought the company under an oversight committee with the FCC for the next 20 years. So on June 28th 2011 when a limited field trial of Google+ was announced on the official Google blog, there were those who were generally not that interested or impressed. However, as time went by and invitations were beginning to circulate, an amazing thing occurred: IT was proclaimed that Google finally got their user-friendly privacy laden social networking engine!

Spam Infested Walls and Poorly Managed Groups

The timing of this release could not have been better, truly. During this time period, FaceBook had begun making improvements to how the social networking giant handled everything from personal details and security to how friends lists were displayed, and there were very few users who were satisfied, let alone happy with the changes. Their news feeds were being dominated by those applications that now had free reign to post on friends’ walls crowding out the actual status updates with games like “Fish-ville” and “Sims.” Users were also finding that their groups were being attacked and changed, a move that made it impossible for the group leader to interact with their group members no matter how long the group had been in existence without beginning again from moment one and re-inviting them to join the group.

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Many users had been asking for the option of further defining their friends groups so that updates could be further managed. While FaceBook made a move to have options for showing a particular post only to XYX friends list or to exclude XYZ person or group of friends, it was clunky and the rules must be set for each post. Google+ learned much it seems from the problems that FaceBook has been facing. With a neatly streamlined interface, users are given “circles” of friends that are user defined. When posting, you are given a prompt to choose which circles you wish to share this with, or if you want to share it publicly, with all users.

Profiles, Interests, and User Choice

Another feature of Google+ that users find to be a better executed version of a FaceBook feature is how interests appear. On FaceBook, in the sidebars of your page, there are listings for interests such as: actresses, movies and establishments. There is the option to “like” them, adding a listing in your profile of goodness only knows how many listings. From the most inane like “sleep” and “food” to the names of bands and movies, your profile becomes cluttered with this mess! Taking a lesson from these oft voiced issues, Google+ Created what they call “sparks”. These are user interests and, when searched for and chosen, only the ones that you mark specifically are added to your sparks file and you receive updates on your news feed for only those that you chose.

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Chat and Archiving

When it comes to chat, Google+ uses their ever stable G chat which rarely, if ever, freezes or otherwise disrupts the browser of the user, and saves conversations within your G mail in a special folder meant for them. Unfortunately, FaceBook seems to not yet understand the need for a stable chat engine or for easy archiving of said conversations. Regularly FaceBook chat will freeze a user’s browser and messages get stashed away in your in-box, making it impossible unless you have an excellent memory to tell a conversation from an in-box message.

Also, a much clamored-over feature that FaceBook users have been rallying for is Video conferencing and group chat. While these features are now available on FaceBook, Google+ was launched with them available and working without any freezing or slowing of your system or even distortion of sound.

Privacy

FaceBook has been charged with many privacy issues, especially lately, including:

  • Data mining: Where information is gathered about a person through their website usage and used to advertise other services to them. The information gathered is often sold to a third party.
  • Customization Issues: FaceBook only allows for plain text to customize your site, unlike some of its more popular contenders. Due to this however, innovative minds have begun creating and using hacks to customize their sites, causing others to become infected with their hacks (usually Java Scripted) and slowing down their system.
  • Lack of live support: In our 24/7 lives, customer service that is live and reachable at any time around the clock is crucial. Especially since FaceBook sells credits for its widely-used games, questions about billing are sure to arise.
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Google+, while in its infancy, is working out the kinks as they go along.

  • Privacy: Google+ is fueled by your Google profile which in its default settings is 100% search-able.
  • Service Linking: Google is fond of linking all of its services to create a suite of programs that can be used together or separately. Be certain of what Google products are being drawn upon when you sign up and begin posting.
  • Copyright: A not well known clause in their terms of use make anything that you post using Google+ the property of Google and can be used in any way that they see fit. This, as I am sure you can imagine, makes some waves.

In conclusion

While FaceBook and Google+ both have their flaws and their upsides, it is being shown now that what was once the product or service on every person’s lips, there will always be new innovations in social networking. It has become such a large part of how to communicate with our loved ones, coworkers and friends that seeing more streamlined and more secure services will be the path that any and all social networking sites must take if they wish to survive. Google+ is here to stay. However, so is FaceBook, as they will eventually serve two different demographics. Our prediction is that Google+ will become the social network of the 20-30 something business people while those younger and older will gravitate towards busier FaceBook.

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