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One of the worst things ever forced upon Internet users... that's how *I* would describe Google+.
And now it's going away, something that is likely to cause more problems and heartache for at least a few members of the Google ecosystem.
Why is it going away?
Because it hasn't worked and because it suffered a huge security flaw that exposed the personal data of nearly half a million G+ users.
My only question is: why the hell did they force us into this abomination of a system in the first place?
I recall that back in 2011, I was (as I am now) a very active YouTube user.
I had three YouTube channels and although the video sharing site wasn't perfect, it didn't have any real problems. I could log in and out as/when required and the comments part of the service worked pretty well.
Then Google came along and forced (yes *FORCED*) all YouTube channels to join up to its lame (and to this day still unfathomable by some) Google+ weirdo social media attempt.
Immediately I, and many others, had huge problems.
How crazy was it that on one of my channels, I was no longer able to comment or reply to comments when logged in to that channel?
Could I get a solution?
Of course not... Google's only support mechanism was to make a post on its user-support forum where the response was nothing more than a bunch of other people saying "me to".
Eventually the problem sorted itself out but for over a year, I was locked out of the comments in this way -- and I was a YouTube channel partner racking up millions of views a year!
Of course you'd think that with that massive number of YouTube channels all being forced to join up to G+, it would be active and busy -- right?
Well perhaps the most applicable saying might be "you can lead a horse to water..."
Even though forced to join, the vast majority of people just ignored Google+ and instead continued to use Facebook, Twitter or whatever their preferred social media was. Google+ was an orphan child that nobody wanted and some of us actually despised for the way she'd ruined YouTube's interactivity.
And now... she's going to be shut down... at least for the great unwashed.
Apparently the company will continue to provide Google+ services for those businesses who have committed to the platform but for the rest of us it's lights out.
Now the big worry for me (and probably many others) is working out exactly what this will mean in terms of unintended consequences. I earn my living from my YouTube videos and it most certainly would be very worrying if I was to wake up one morning and find that I could no longer log into my channels because Google had cut the wrong wire whilst disconnecting Google+. Trust me, the chances of this are *incredibly* high.
But let's look for a moment at why Google+ failed.
Well for a start, it was simply too different. It required a significant paradigm shift for those who were already used to Facebook. The concept of "circles" was probably very intuitive to those who designed and built the system but to many Facebook users it was probably a case of "WTF is this?". They didn't want to have to start classifying their friends and other users into groups (circles) -- they just wanted to find the next cute cat video or meme and post more pictures of their holidays.
Another problem was timing.
I'm pretty sure that if Google had rolled out G+ today, it would have got a far better reception. People are disengaging from Facebook at record levels today and you know that a fair few of them are looking for alternatives. To be fair, G+ wasn't all bad either. Some of it was pretty good and I've seen a few Aardvark readers actively using it even recently and I certainly tried but there just wasn't sufficient critical mass to make it worth the effort.
Finally, there was the resentment of being forced to do something. People hate it when they're made to do stuff at gunpoint -- which is exactly what Google did with YouTube users who wanted to continue using the video sharing platform. You can't force people to love you by threatening them, as we so clearly saw with the resulting failure of G+ to thrive.
Hopefully, Google has learned its lesson... but I doubt that.
Big corporations always think that they know better than the customer, especially when they have attained a pseudo-monopoly or huge dominance in the marketplace.
As a result, I'm sure we can look forward to more bullying and failures from Google, Facebook and others. How quickly they forget that the one thing which made them so big was their desire to fulfill the *needs* of the user, rather than dictate those needs to them.
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