Google’s long awaited social networking service, the Google+ project, debuted this past Tuesday, albeit as an invite only service at this point.
Google+ is looking to differentiate themselves from rivals, Facebook and Twitter, by emphasizing privacy and user customization, which are much publicized Facebook issues of late and are often described as confusing, self-serving, and in a constant state of flux. Case in point, where is that darn button to turn off my “Likes”?! To be fair, you can “Unlike” if you are on the page you once liked, but how many know that… It can all be very confusing.
The Google+ network is designed around users’ social circles (called +Circles) and lets users selectively share with specific groups within their personal network, rather than sharing with all their social connections at once. In Google’s own words, Google+ allows “you to share different things with different people. But sharing the right stuff with the right people shouldn’t be a hassle. Circles makes it easy to put your friends from Saturday night in one circle, your parents in another, and your boss in a circle by himself, just like real life.”
With that said, I believe Google is addressing consumer privacy concerns with their Circles feature and is a first attempt to solve one of the major weaknesses associated with other social networking services; protecting your personal information and online identity. Now that Facebook has a credible competitor to push them to innovate once again (MySpace Dead?), I am looking forward to the future of both services.