Google has posed the first viable threat to Facebook's monopoly on our digital social lives. Skimming through my news feed, it's clear that a threat to the current system is appealing to my generation'a small revolution against the Zuckerberg regime. As Facebook has grown to ubiquity over the past several years, there's been a simultaneous feeling of dependence upon and resistance against the network. However, I'm pretty confident that there will not be a mass migration of the nearly seven hundred million Facebook users tomorrow.
Fresh out of school, I've been taught how to quickly and easily predict the fate of Google+. (And you can too: a lesson from Wikipedia on Rogers Five Factors.) I've amassed enough debt; here's what I've learned.
- Google+ has several valuable relative advantages over Facebook. Most notably, the developers try to mimic real world social organization by allowing users to categorize people: Good Looking Friends, People I Shouldn't Over-Share With, Bad Dates, etc.* Google+ also allows you to own and download your data. For those who have collected several years' worth of content on Facebook, a data back-up seems comforting. There's also an improvement on privacy settings, a constant issue for some Facebook users. (You may recall they failed miserably at securing user privacy the first time around.)
- Facebook may own half of my digital content, but Google conveniently owns the other half. The integration of Google+ with all the other Google applications that I use daily makes the new technology compatible. Another check off Rogers' list.
- As for the element of complexity, the Google+ interface seems intuitive if you have familiarity with any of Google's other products. The only exceptions are a couple of buggy interactions, which we can't criticize'this is Google+ Beta, after all.
- Many of my friends are already experimenting with the platform's trialability. It's easy to try, if you have at least one nerdy friend to invite you.
- And lastly, Google+ is sparking conversation and reactions, not surprisingly, all over the established social networks. (Rogers called this observability.)
According to this scholar, Google+ appears to be a strong Facebook rival on paper. What does your intuition tell you? In my opinion, people could make room for a third social network. A friend of mine segmented the networks nicely: Facebook is a large arena to keep in touch with past acquaintances, Twitter is a platform to form potential relationships, and Google+ is, perhaps, a more intimate environment to regularly communicate with current friends and contacts.
On the other hand, six million Americans deleted their Facebook accounts in May. Maybe, rather than a Facebook supplement, there's a desire for an alternative.
And if you don't want to have to choose, check out this plug-in.
*I think Google has 'borrowed'? this idea from Diaspora.