The social networking landscape on the Internet has been continually changing. Just a few years ago, the most popular sites for connecting and sharing information with friends were Myspace and Friendster. However, these sites began losing users after the advent of Facebook. However, recently, Facebook has found stiff competition with the introduction of Google+, the new social networking site from the popular search engine company.
Google does not consider their new service as a social networking site, though. Instead, they prefer the term “social experiment.” But in just the few weeks since the launch of Google+, it is becoming clearer that this experiment is certainly yielding positive results.
Google+ launched on June 28th, 2011 and though the service is currently only allowing new registration by invite only, it reached the ten million user mark only two weeks after it was introduced. According to an Experian Hitwise report, Google+ is averaging about 1.8 million visits a week and has seen an 800% increase in usage in the short time it has been available. While Google+ is a competitor for Facebook, it is interesting to note that one of the most added users on Google’s social networking platform is actually Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook.
Many factors account for the sudden popularity of the service, but it is most likely due to the presence that Google already has on the web. Because Google+ syncs with the services a Google user already has, such as Gmail, Picasa and Blogger, users who already have these services can seamlessly access their contacts, photos and other information.
Another subject that is making Google+ attractive to social networking users is the fact that they do not make any attempts to claim ownership of the content which users post to the site. Currently, Facebook’s user agreement has a clause which gives them copyright ownership of any pictures, video and text on their site. This means that your photos from your Facebook account can be sold to a stock photo company and there is nothing you can do about it. While there have not been any reports of Facebook actually going through with these intentions, Myspace users have had problems in the past of discovering their profile photos being sold to other web sites.
However, Google+ allows users to retain all ownership of any content submitted to the site in their terms of service. In the user agreement for Google+, users only have to acknowledge that Google will allow others to see the content and that it may be accessible by other users of the service. Considering the fact that anyone who shares content on Google+ is likely doing it to have the content seen by friends and family on the site, it is not hard to agree to those terms. Also, this relaxed agreement makes Google+ a much more appealing alternative to creative people.
With the following Google+ has gained, don’t be surprised if/when Facebook becomes a thing of the past, just like Myspace.