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The Era of Facebook May Indeed Decline (Google+)

posted Jul 16, 2011, 10:19 AM by Nathan Eliason   [ updated Jul 20, 2011, 3:42 PM ]
The social behemoth we know as Facebook has dominated the industry. Making billions of dollars a year off of its hundreds of millions of users, it won't be easy taking down the social network. Even so, Google has made an attempt by launching its new social network, called Google+ (Google Plus).

Undoubtedly, Google is already a part of our everyday lives. Whether it be Youtube, GMail, or a quick web search, all of it is powered and owned by Google. To some extent, many are wondering if we give the company too much power. It knows our lives, our interests, our searches. But certainly Facebook has had its share of criticism as well, over a deteriorating privacy policy, spam gone wild, and account snatching and hacking left and right.

Even with its cons, Facebook has been integrated into our lives in a way that we can't easily let go of. Slowly, our conversations, pictures, messages, friends, and lives have converted to our online profile. Events, news, and gossip accompanied by a flurry of pictures, pages, and applications create walls, and games let us linger even longer. With mobile integration, Facebook on the go, and applications for iDevices, Facebook has become the place to be, all the time. Businesses have long realized the benefits of staying up with technology, and countless start-ups and massive corporations alike depend and use Facebook for advertising and contests, as well as traffic to their website.

Also, this isn't Google's first attempt at denting Facebook's user base. Little services like Google Wave and Google Buzz have tried (and failed) to create a social network within Google's web. But Google Plus (Google+) is different. First of all, it is a network that spans the gap between Facebook and Twitter, creating just one social network for all your needs and desires. Posts and conversations are easily directed at groups (circles) of people or the whole world. Conversations, unlike Twitter, are handled expertly and delicately, and there are no strings attached, no applications or spams that steal personal information. Hangouts, a response to Facebook's video chat, allow for a user to set up a Hangout video room, then others can join in on a group video chat, something never incorporated into social networking before. This allows for much more realistic socialization, and you won't have to video call or send messages to individuals at a time.

Another feature, probably the most exciting, is a way of categorizing contacts into Circles. Rather than a long list of friends, co-workers, and family, you can organize and fit your life and relationships into circles, making it easier than ever to communicate. No longer do you have to remember who was involved in that project and need to supply a message to each person individually, you just issue a message to the circle and they are all kept in the know. This also mimics human socialization a lot better than Facebook, where you can keep your professional and private lives separate and in different circles, rather than an ugly mesh of everything on a profile wall.

In addition to this is the news feature, named Sparks. In this, you simply search and customize what you want and like to know about, and a page of news comes up featuring only what you want to know. This isn't quite revolutionary, but it is a nice feature that really adds to Google+.

With Streams, all your acquaintances' messages and posts are organized by circles, which allows you to see what you want to see and separate the different facets of your life into a manageable GMail-label like setting. Incoming streams are from people who have put you in a circle ("circled you"), but you haven't circled them. Almost like the friend feature of Facebook, this allows you to filter out those people who don't really seem to understand that you hate them.

With registration on Google+, your Google Bar on any Google webpage now includes a link directly to Google+. This is an advantage for Google, as users of GMail can simply click once to switch between email and social network. Also, all those sites you've probably +1'ed, a newer feature from GMail that allows you to recommend websites to your contacts, is entwined with Google+. They have used the best of their network to include all social features possible (including group Youtube video watching. You can watch that funny cat video with your grandma and cousin in different continents.).

So Twitter and Facebook may indeed have a single replacement that will take over the industry, giving Google even more power than it currently has. But don't try and deactivate your Facebook account just yet, give it a whirl first, and see who's in your circle.