After the reveal that a recent breach to Google+ resulted in the information of over 500,000 users being exposed, Google has decided to end the widely-known, lesser-used consumer version of the social network. This happened back in March, around the same time as the Cambridge Analytica scandal had started coming to light. The information that was leaked was due to a bug in the Google+ People API’s, in which the profile field information could be accessed. The information accessed was generally static fields such as name, occupation, email (full list), and does not include shared content on Google+, include messages or photos.

To judge the level of engagement the platform was receiving, Google revealed that it’s top executives stopped using the service up to 3 years ago, and in a blog post, that 90% of sessions on Google+ lasted less than 5 seconds, as said by Google Fellow and Vice President of Engineering Ben Smith. 

Why did Google+ never work?

It was always seen as a competitor for Facebook, that was never going to win. Not many people are disappointed with the closure of the consumer version of Google+, many people are surprised to hear that Google+ is still going.

However, the death of Google+ has been a long time coming, with users seeing various features sunset over the years, such as saved searches and Google local edits.

Search Engine Land reports that Google+ did use to influence some search results, despite what most think. The Google+ and 1+ buttons would show up in search results, as a way of ranking the search results for quality. This also allowed users to personalise their search results based on what friends of the users searched for. Other factors that affected search results were photos, emails and flights that were linked directly to the Google+ account.

The Final Chapter of Google+

Google announced that the consumer version of the platform will slowly diminish over 10 months to give it’s users time to adjust, and reportedly plans to remodel the service as a business tool. But is the data breach just an excuse for the platform underperforming?

The announcement was also well-timed, as the day after the disclosure of a failing product by one of the worlds leading companies, the #MadeByGoogle expo released a new generation of Pixel goods.