Goodbye, Google+ — We Forgot You Existed

Oct 9, 2018
Originally published on October 10, 2018 1:33 pm
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

This week, Google disclosed a data breach, one that potentially affected hundreds of thousands of users. It was on the company's social media platform Google+.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

This sounds familiar. But instead of announcing sweeping changes to the platform, the tech giant announced that it would simply close down Google+ by next year, which left many feeling...

MIKE ISAAC: Mostly shocked that this was still online and up and running.

KELLY: Mike Isaac, tech reporter for The New York Times. Now, if you haven't heard of Google+, you're probably not alone. But Isaac says back in 2011 when it was first launched, Google pitched it as the next Facebook, only more selective.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: I have lots to share, but I don't want to share everything with everyone. What if online sharing worked more like your real-life relationships where you choose who gets to know what?

ISAAC: And it was essentially something that had scared Mark Zuckerberg even that Google is finally going to do a social network.

CHANG: But the Facebook CEO didn't have to worry about that.

ISAAC: Pretty much no one thought it was something (laughter) worth using. And everyone was already on Facebook, so why even switch over to this? And it became this thing that - they kept trying to keep making Google+ happen, and it just would never happen.

CHANG: We did find one person who was bummed to see it go.

AMANDA BLAIN: So I started on Google+ the first day that it officially launched.

CHANG: Amanda Blain is a 38-year-old tech writer in Canada. She has almost 5 million Google+ followers.

BLAIN: So I've never had that ghost-town, it-was-dead, nobody-used-it experience. It was never like that for me. So when it actually died, it has been kind of sad for those of us that actually had used it.

KELLY: Well, Amanda Blain may be in the minority. Many people took to other social media sites to pay tribute to Google+, mostly to say that they had long forgotten about it.

CHANG: Here's our favorite, a 36-year-old singer named Jonathan Mann.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JONATHAN MANN: One, two, three, four - (singing) Google+ is dead. Nobody cares.

CHANG: He says he wanted to highlight what Google+ could have been, the potential of a life cut short.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MANN: (Singing) It would be nice, I'll admit, to have an alternative to Facebook but not from another great big company. Sadly this seems like it's not meant to be.

KELLY: (Laughter) Well, here's to you, Google+. We hardly knew you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.