Who’s in Your Circle?
This is an actual picture of one of my Google Plus Circles. This is arguably a collection of the most influential digital personalities in the world today (note to self… add Erik Qualman after posting this blog). But it begs the question, is Google tricking you in to believing that G+ has a level of privacy superior to Facebook.
Google’s new G+ social network does something I predicted Facebook might do as a next major shift. It allows you to categorize your connections and interact with them in a simple and powerful way. It’s called Circles. Essentially, this gives the user a somewhat false sense of privacy because you are able to select who you share information with every time you post. But who you “follow” and how you follow them is somewhat disconnected from this. This is the result of the two media this new platform attempts to merge.
On the one hand Google’s version of the wall (Stream) combined with circles is designed to give the sharer a sense of security in that you get to choose the circles you share with with every post. On the other hand, Circle’s allows you to search and follow people who interest you. So what happens when you post the drunken photo of last weekend’s party to your friends circles, but your boss makes you a subject of interest to follow? Hmm…. Not so clear is it?
When I predicted a “Circles like” evolution for Facebook 20 months ago, I was under an impression that I no longer currently share – and that is that privacy would continue to be an issue of hot debate. And while it is still a heavily publicized topic, current data suggests that this is not necessarily valid. For those like me in the 30+ crowd, it may still hold some merit and that may be a target demographic for G+. However, it seems very clear that gen-y and younger are all too willing to trade privacy for convenience.
Zuckerberg, is no doubt taking note of all of this. So where does this leave Facebook? Well for starters, having a 700 million user head start is nice. For me, I hope Facebook moves in its own direction. These two platforms are already too similar in my opinion. But there is no denying that Google got a lot right with the new G+ platform. This is going to be one interesting boxing match. Do you think there will be a clear winner or will they peacefully co-exist and offer something different to different demographics?