News of Google+ is cyberventilating on the blogosphere. While still in a beta test mode, more has been written about its impending launch than anything else they have done in the social media space - and to date that includes a number of starts-sputters-and-stops along the way (less we forget Orkut, Buzz, Google Me, Wave, etc.) Facebook on the other hand continues to expand exponentially approaching the 3/4 billion mark milestone - leaving little room for others to play catch-up.
Bloggers and critics alike have focused on features where the Google+ social network is said to have incubated a well-honed superior product to FB. The Hangout feature and its video chat functionality where you can conference up to ten people is supposed to be superior to Facebook's recent Skype integration. Similarly, the new Huddle mobile app is making its way to mobile (Android) smart phones where users can initiate group text chats. (for more on this topic, see my previous post, "Google's Social Media Hangouts Challenges Facebook's Friends")
Privacy advocates on the other hand see the shakedown between these two Internet giants coming down to 'who is the best steward of your personal data?'
FB has received a lot of flak for using a pre-set list of privacy settings to govern all shares. Google+, on the other hand reacting to the push-back received from FB users, will let their users assign a privacy level to each piece of content they share. This means when you share an article or upload a camera image, Google+ will provide you with a selection option where you can decide which circle of friends you'd like to share that content.
In the graphic novel, "Facebucks & Dumb F*cks," the creators point to Facebook (aka Facebucks) and its use of of the 'Open Graph' as a means of mapping out the Internet. Instead of hyperlinks, FB has developed a unique system based on personal preferences, or 'peoplelinks.' In so doing, they are beginning a process that is streamlining targeted marketing, far superior to Google's (aka Gobble's) search tactics.
Page from Facebucks & Dumb F*cks graphic novel
However are 'peoplelinks' a service for users, or just a slick way of securing our private data while lining Mark Zuckerberg's coffers? This debate will continue for years to come - but certainly one that has put a "burr" under Google's saddle as it follows FB down the same rabbit hole.
Mark Sullivan of PC World believes that "running a social network is all about responsible stewardship of users' personal data," and in his assessment, he sees Google coming out ahead. "Facebook is a young, fast moving company that has proved itself to be cavalier in its movements, lacking in respect for user privacy, and accident prone," he notes.
"Google on the other hand, is a far more mature company that (he argues) is seen as more trustworthy than Facebook." I guess Sullivan has forgotten Google's "Buzz" debacle when at launch, it actually pre-selected friends of G-Mail users devoid of an opt-in option for the user.
For Gmail old-timers and even new users this meant that the people they communicated with frequently were now privy to way too much information. The outrage that ensued perplexed the hierarchy within the Googleplex as they viewed themselves as experts at proselytizing. It was Google's first big lesson at what not to do on social networks (for more on this topic, see my previous post, "Google Buzz Superstar!")
So where does that leave us - sticking with the devil we know - or jumping into bed with a new devil? Mark Zuckerberg seems a little concerned about potential poaching and attrition to his base. In a recent NY Times article, it was noted that he not only joined Google+ as a new member, he has also accumulated more friends than Larry Page, co-founder of Google (just shy of 35,000 followers, as of this posting).
Mark Zuckerberg's Google+ profile
Let the Social Media Wars begin!