Google Plus / Google+

Google Plus / Google+

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Google+, also referred to as Google Plus, is a social networking service operated by Google that launched on June 28th, 2011. It initially began with an invite-only open Beta testing for about 90 days before opening up to the public on September 20, 2011.[8]


Google+ is the company’s fourth-generation product in social networking, combining the elements of orkut (launched in 2004), Google Friends Connect (launched 2008) and Google Buzz (launched 2010). It also integrates other existing apps like Google Profiles and Picasa. The service was launched on June 28th, 2011 in an invitation-only beta phase, but they were soon suspended due to high volume of account sign-ups. On September 20, 2011, Google+ was opened to everyone 18 years of age or older without the need for an invitation.


Upon its announcement, many Internet users perceived it to be Google’s attempt to compete with Facebook. Many software engineers, programmers, other tech professionals and enthusiasts took to the site early on during its beta phase. On June 28th, 2011, a subreddit[5] was created. Google Plus’ public debut was met by massive news coverage and reported as Google’s biggest attempt to compete against the social network Facebook.

On July 7th, 2011 the top followed user on Google+ was Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg, who was expected to be the first to reach 100,000 followers by July 14th. Other notable celebrities on the list included Minecraft developer Markus “Notch” Persson and Myspace co-founder Tom “Myspace Tom” Anderson. [3]


According to some estimates, Google+ managed to sign up 10 million users by July 13th, 2011.[6] CS Technology News[7] posted a sampling of 947,996 users July 13th, 2011 with a breakdown several trends. The top 3 countries were the United States at 49.12%, India at 5.88%, and Sri Lanka at 4.89%. Males were the predominate sex composing 73.7% of the user base, and engineers were the top listed profession at 24.56%.

On July 7th, 2011 the top followed user on Google+ was Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg, who was expected to be the first to reach 100,000 followers by July 14th. Other notable celebrities on the list included Minecraft developer Markus “Notch” Persson and Myspace co-founder Tom “Myspace Tom” Anderson. [3]

On December 27, 2011, it was reported that Google+ had surpassed an estimated user base of 62 million. The site was adding an estimated number of 625,000 new users a day, which may total 400 million members by the end of 2012, according to independent analysis of its growth.[10] The site’s popularity accelerated in December 2011, with almost a quarter of its total user base joining in December alone, said Paul B. Allen, the founder of, who tracks the numbers as the “unofficial statistician” for Google+.[11]



To add someone to a Google+ social network, the user must place the person into a circle of their choosing via a drag-and-drop interface. The circles can be customized to anything the user wishes, but the names of the circles are not visible to anyone other than the user who created them. The default circle names are “Friends”, “Family”, “Acquaintances” and “Following.”


Google+ has a group video chat feature called “Hangouts” that allow up to 10 people to live chat at the same time. On September 20th, 2011, ZDNet[18] reported that Google was rolling out “Mobile Hangouts” that can be accessed via Android 2.3+ mobile devices that are equipped with front-facing cameras and announced the “Hangouts On-Air” feature that allows users to launch instant live webcasts over Google+. ZDNet went on to add that the “Hangouts with Extras” feature was in development that would “allows users to share documents, share a scratchpad and share their screens with other users.”


Google+ allows users to customize their privacy settings globally and for individual circles as well. Each profile field can be edited to allow specific people to view the information. On July 12th, 2011, Zuckerburg and several top Google employees altered their privacy settings and have dropped off the list. This came after a number of privacy adjustments by Google in an effort to curb the “most followers” contest.[4] It is unknown whether or not Zuckerburg hit 100,000 followers in the proposed time-frame.

Search Plus Your World

On January 10th, 2012, Google announced its new “Search Plus Your World”[15] feature that customizes Google search results for users logged in to Google Plus.

When signed in with Google+, you’ll find personal results and profiles of people you know or follow. You can even expand your world by discovering people related to your search.

The same day, the new feature was subsequently reported in an article on TechCrunch[16] which criticized some aspects of the new feature:

Maybe it’s time for the big social networks to acknowledge that the things we share on their services just represent a small sliver of our online personas and are neither fully representative of who were are online or offline.

On January 11th, Fox Business[17] reported that Twitter complained about the new search feature saying it would “skew search results to Google’s social network.” Google responded by claiming they would be happy to include other social networks in personalized search results:

“Google does not have access to crawl all the information on some sites, so it’s not possible for us to surface all that content. Google also doesn’t have access to the social graph information from some sites, so it’s not possible to help you find information from those people you’re connected to.”

On January 13th, a Hitler Reacts video was uploaded to YouTube that mocked the new search feature and claimed Google was trying to force Google+ down users’ throats.

Creative Kit

On January 17th, 2012, Google software engineer Colin McMillen posted an announcement on Google Plus[9] that revealed a new feature that would allow users to add large text on top of photos.

To try it out, drop a photo into the sharebox on Google+, then click the “Add text” button underneath the photo. Type in something funny, then share and enjoy.

The same day, the new feature was reported by Mashable[10], MSNBC[11], TIME[12], The Washington Post[13] and CNET[13] where it was joked about being a new productivity waster.

Fake Google Hangouts

Google Plus provides a group video chat service called “Google Hangouts.” Following the end of each Hangout session, a stream notification with details of participants gets published. On July 7th, 2011, YouTube’s NextLab director Timothy Shey created the first fake Google Hangout with a post[1] that read “Tim Shey is not hanging out with you right now.” Soon, other Google+ users began exploiting the notification feature by adding various celebrity accounts such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Zuckerberg. For more details on this phenomenon, check out KYMdb – Fake Google Hangouts.


On April 11th, 2012, Google Plus underwent a major redesign[19], revamping its navigation system known as “dynamic ribbon” and enabling larger photos in the the user content stream on Google Plus profile pages. As a result of the redesign, all of the application buttons for different features were moved to a gray side bar on the left side, leaving a large whitespace on the right side of the profile pages. The change was largely reported in the tech news blogosphere[21] as Google’s attempt to catch up with Facebook’s Timeline feature that was introduced in September 2011.

In responding to Google’s site update, Google Plus user Christian Martel[23] posted a picture of his profile page on monitor display with a plant covering up the white space on the right side. Martel wrote: “Use your #whitespace wisely!” The post was well received by other users on the site, accumulating 938 likes and 575 shares within the first 24 hours. Soon after, other Google Plus users began sharing clever ways to take advantage of the extra real estate on the profile pages with the hashtag #whitespace and #usersforwhitespace.[20] For more humorous examples, browse KYM Gallery – #Whitespace.

In addition to the image parodies, a web browser plug-in[24] for Google Chrome was made available to allow users to center the new design for optimized display on widescreens. Meanwhile, Google Plus user Jonathan Chalker[22] wrote a fake news article satirizing Google Plus’ conspicuous efforts to follow the footsteps of Facebook:

Google Acquires WhiteSpace For $120M

In a surprise move perhaps intended to counter Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, Google has purchased a little known app company, WhiteSpace, which cleverly adds large, random pockets of white space to any interface.

When asked why WhiteSpace posed an interest, David Lawee, Head of Google’s Business Development team responded:

“There are synergies here, the scale of which we don’t yet fully understand. The color white, to Google, is like air. WhiteSpace is like air in outer space and everyone agrees it would be cool if there was more air in outer space. It is equally as cool to have more white in our space”.

Lawee refused to speculate as to whether WhiteSpace would be added to their new Google Glasses interface.

Search Interest

Search queries for “google plus” and “google+” saw a significant spike starting on June 28th,2011, the official launch day, and reached their first peak two days later on June 30th.


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