After deactivating my Facebook account about a week ago, I started using Google’s relatively new social networking system, Google+. I’ve also been thinking about which social network will win out the most users in the long run. Several of my friends have already signed up for Google+, but Facebook still looks healthy and strong despite recent allegations about how they deal with user privacy. First off, a little bit of history behind these companies:
Google+ is not the company’s first attempt at social networking integration. Earlier in 2009 or so, the company launched Google Buzz, which could be accessed through a special tab in Gmail. It resembled Twitter in a fashion, but the commenting system gave it more of a Facebook feel. Despite the initial hype, the social networking platform fell flat on its face, and now the company is permanently discontinuing it. Another one of Google’s notable social networking products is Orkut, which, strangely, is very popular among Brazilians while in the rest of the world it seems that nobody has even heard of it.
But what about Facebook?
Facebook started off completely differently. No big company was involved in its creation; in fact, Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerburg created it from his Harvard dorm room. The site, originally called “The Facebook,” was intended for college students, but after seeing its popularity, Zuckerburg expanded it to the general public. Lately though, the social network has suffered from various lawsuits regarding user privacy, and even a movement aimed at getting users to deactivate their Facebook. Still, Facebook continues to grow at an astounding rate. At last count, 800 million users were registered, and the social networking giant continues to grow at an average of 3.5% per month.
So who’s going to win?
Google+ was released to the public with rave reviews. Some called it “a social networking revolution”, with its novel Circles feature allowing you to share content with only select groups of people. This attempt by Google seems much more formidable than some previous attempts, and looks on track to be the next big social networking platform. However, it is advisable to take this optimism with a grain of salt. Buzz was hailed as a “revolution”, but came tumbling down.
Facebook is still growing, and thankfully, they’ve implemented new features to help users manage what others see. Overall, they’ve done a good job of handling the lawsuits. The site has also been adding new features such as a chat sidebar, live updates of friends’ activities, and now a Timeline, to mixed reviews.
Yet, in the end, only one of these platforms will become the Alpha Dog while the other sinks into obscurity. I believe that the freshness of Google+ will give it a huge initial surge in users. Besides, Google has long held its standing as the top search engine, and the integration of a social platform will bring many users. It seems that, for this war, Google+ will become the ultimate victor as Facebook sinks deeper into the privacy lawsuits.