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Former Google+ Designer Slams The Service for Being 'Facebook Lite'

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Google+ Plus slams the service for being Facebook Like.
He also calls out Google Plus for any meaningful.
Google+ is a social network "adrift at sea," representing a big missed opportunity for the company, a former Google employee who worked on the service says. Chris Messina, who worked on Google+ user experience design before leaving the company over a year ago, wrote a long post on Medium, in which he criticizes the service for not delivering on its initial vision of empowering users with the vast amount of data that Google collects about them.

He also calls out Google+ for not having any meaningful differentiators over its more successful competitor, Facebook. "Most people would likely describe Google+ as a newsfeed, a kind of Facebook-lite," he wrote. Messina, who is often credited with inventing the hashtag, acknowledges that Google's social network has many devout users, and that it's become a go-to service for a few specific topics (like photography).

But by and large, Google+ is basically a Facebook also-ran, he accuses But by and large, Google+ is basically a Facebook also-ran, he accuses, and it was hamstrung in part because of the ultra-cautious name. Still reeling from the failure of Google Buzz, the company chose "Google+" because it "could just drop the '+' and pretend the 'project' never existed," Messina says.

Had Google focused on the initial promise of the project, when it was called "Google Me," Messina believes Google could have won converts to its social network by being their preferred "trusted party" for the information they share online. With that data, Google Me/Google+ could then create meaningful connections based on that information, all the while keeping control over privacy and sharing in the hands of the user.

Although Google has been very clearly moving away from the Google+ brand in recent months, that idea of a personalized Google is stronger than ever, seen in many of its context-based products like Google Now. Messina's criticism, however, appears to call out Google+ for not surfacing meaningful social interactions or content based on that identity — that it's essentially "leaving a ton of value on the table."

Google's next move for its social network is unclear. As Messina notes, since Gundotra left there have been few meaningful updates to Google+, and it may end up getting a full rebranding at some point. But user context and identity can only become more relevant parts of our online experiences, and there's no question Google is well positioned to take advantage of them. The only question is how big a role that Google+, at least in its current form, will play [Mashable].

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