On April 2nd 2019, the Google+ platform closed its doors and shut all accounts down for good. It was originally launched back in 2011 as a social network (replacing Google Buzz) in an attempt to compete with the likes of Facebook, MySpace and Tumblr.
It seems this plan never really materialised, and the decision to close Google+ came soon after reports of data leaks in March 2018 which were not disclosed to those affected for around six months. The data breach saw personal information from over 500,000 accounts shared without the owners’ consent.
But why did Google+ never really take off in the first place?
There were a small number of fans who remained loyal to Google+ over the years, warming to its topic-focused discussions and ability to organise people into ‘circles’.
But forcing consumers to create a Google+ account in order to comment on other platforms like YouTube in the early days was bound to put off users from the outset.
Despite Google’s massive reach and a large number of accounts created (111 million), users just weren’t logging in and using the social network.
In a blog posted by Ben Smith, Google Fellow and Vice President of Engineering, it seems that the consumer version of Google+ had low usage and engagement, with 90% of user sessions lasting less than five seconds. This was despite a lot of effort and dedication from Google’s engineering teams over the years.
Anna Goddard from KC Communications commented: “Google+ probably didn’t take off because it just seemed to be a replica of Facebook. Why would we go on two different sites with the same offering?
“When Google+ launched, we were already happy on Facebook and were used to using the features it provided. Google+ needed to bring something different to the game like Twitter and Instagram did so well.”
So there you have it – it seems Google+ just didn’t have what it takes to compete with the other social media platforms out there.
Unfortunately, if this is the first you’ve heard of Google+ shutting down, it’s likely that you’ve lost any data from the account as the platform has now officially deceased. However, any other accounts you may have that are associated with Google (e.g. Google mail) have not been affected.