Saturday, April 4, 2020


So it's been just over a year, although it seems like quite a bit longer, since Google+ was shuttered for the general public. And I've been looking through some of the notes that I had taken in the run up to the closure.

Google has officially started the process of shutting down and deleting all consumer accounts on its Google+ social network platform, bringing an end to the company’s attempt to directly compete with the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

If the goal was to legitimately take on Facebook, Google+ faced dire odds from the very beginning.
Google begins shutting down its failed Google+ social network
These two statements don't jive with one another. One presumes that it knows the end purpose of Google+, while the second questions that premise.
For Google, Plus was just the latest and most high-profile failure in social networking. Once the company decided it wasn't going to be a billion-dollar product with a massive user base, it diverted resources elsewhere.
Google+ is shutting down, and the site's few loyal users are mourning
And maybe this was the problem. Google plus was never going to be a gigantically profitable business venture. But it needed one to keep it afloat.

If Google+ was an unmitigated failure, it's hard to see how other platforms, like MeWe, Diaspora and Mastodon, will ever be considered successes. They have pretty much no chance of ever directly competing with Facebook or Twitter. But, as near as I can tell, no-one expects them to. In the past year, I haven't heard anything about any of them, aside from the occasional mention from those people I knew from Google+ that I'm still in contact with. And it is only the fact that no-one expected much of anything from them that allows them to avoid the mark of shame that the technology press insisted that Google+ wear.

One thing that may be worth keeping in mind is that there are no social media businesses. There isn't a business model in the world that makes giving a resource-intensive service away at no charge viable. Facebook's business isn't social media; it's providing information about, and access to, the social media profiles that people create on it. That's what businesses, Facebook's actual customers, pay for; and that's how Facebook maintains its revenues. Alphabet has a similar model, based around its advertising services and the like. Perhaps the problem that Google encountered in making Google+ into a billion-dollar business was that it already had more than one of those, and social media didn't present an obvious path to a new one.

For the technology press, however, this was the only benchmark that meant anything. While CNBC proclaimed that Google+ was simply one of a string of failed not-Facebook platforms, there doesn't appear to have been the same drumbeat of pointlessness sounded for other extant platforms that bear and even greater resemblance to "ghost towns" than Plus did.

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