I didn’t think that I’d be writing this, but Google+ is getting shutdown.

In December of 2018, Google announced that it would shut down the Google+ service on the 2nd of April 2019. This came as a surprise to many and something unsurprising to others. Google’s reason as stated in an email that I received at the time of writing this:

our decision to shut down Google+ for consumers in April 2019 due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations.

Google – email to users on 1st February 2019

What was Google+ intended to be?

The platform sometimes pronounced as ‘Google Plus’ was launched on 28th June 2011 as Google’s fourth attempt to break into the Social Media sphere. It replaced it’s older siblings, Google Buzz (2010-2011), Google Friend Connect (2008-2012) and Orkut (2004-2014). It was poised to be a strong contender due to Google’s already massive online presence, but that doesn’t always workout as intended.

New York Times magazine compared Google+ to a Ghost Town

Google+ never really had its own identity. It was first intended to be a social network and later called by Google “a social layer across all of Google’s services”. To users, it was always another social media platform. It had rapid growth, it gained 10 Million users within 2 weeks of launching and 90 Million by the end of 2011. In October of 2013, it was estimated that around 540 Million monthly users interacted with the ‘social layer’. In February of 2014, New York Times magazine compared Google+ to a Ghost Town, which was certainly true. I myself made several attempts to get used to the platform, but it was never a good marriage between the two of us.

Why is Google+ being closed?

Quite rightly, Google admited that it is being shutdown due to low user engament. Which is certainly true. Browsing through the platform seamed like driving through a huracane damaged town with all the residents either evaquated or in the basement. It was noted that a stagering 90% of sessions on the service lasted less than 5 seconds. How can a platform withstand such low consumtion at a time when the average user spends 7.5 hours on Facebook?

What’s going to happen to my data?

It’ll get wiped… short answer

Following the email I received from Google. From the 4th of February, nobody will be able to create a new Google+ profile, page, event or community. The giant is allowing all users to download their pictures and any other data they may wish before the shutdown.

If you manage a community on the platform, then from the start of March, you’ll be able to download a zipped file with all of the community data.

Google+ sign-in buttons will stop functioning within the next few weeks (as of writing). Instead, some page owners may decide to use a ‘Google Sign-In’ button which Google assures will have the same capability as the old button.

Comments using Google+… These will be deleted (happy days 🙂 ). Blogger will have it removed on the 4th of February and all other sites will follow on March 7th. Afterwards, from the 2nd of April, all of the comments will be deleted. Personally speaking, this is a bad move as text-based comments could easily be archived and left for websites to access for historical purposes.

G Suite is said to be unafected, at least in majority. Accounts will remain active and instead users are being told to contact their G Suite Administrators for further actions. Instead, Google said that the branding will change slightly with new features being added soon.

For Developers, various APIs with the ‘plus’ word in it will stop functioning anytime from February 15, 2019. These will simply fail on requests. All Google Sign-In features (as mentioned before) will start being shut down from the 7th of March. If you’re a developer, following this link for more info.

What’s going to happen next?

Not much… most people will continue using Facebook. I think that some current Google+ users who haven’t got an FB account may decide to set one up to replace Google+ (small numbers if any). But for the majority of people, they won’t even know that it’s gone, unless they read their email or read this article.

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