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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2523

The Death of a Social Network: Google+ to be shut down in 90 days

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

It has not been a good year for social networks, ranging from Facebook to reddit, in the face of multitude of controversies, privacy issues and above all, user-data theft or accidental leaks.

Despite the state-of-the-art measures being in place, even Google was not immune to the common form of disasters.

In March this year, Google had discovered a bug in its API – Application Programming Interface – which resulted in the formation of a channel that in turn let private software developers access user data, even if they had not been classified as public.

More than half a million users had been affected by the flaw, according to Google. Although Google fixed it as soon it was detected, the damage was done just after it was revealed, due to knee-jerk reaction that often attracts from concerned users, authorities, media and of course, the rivals in the realm.

Google, in its defence, said that no user data was abused due to breach. Moreover, the software developers in question were not aware of the bug while they were accessing ‘permitted’ user data.

In October this year, Google, however, declared that Google+ would be shut down in 10 months.

To make things worse, Google announced that there had been a second leak, a more substantial one than the previous one. With the second leak, over 52.5 million users have been affected and as far as the search giant was concerned that was the last straw. Google decided to close down it in just 90 days.

Launched in 2011 as a rival to Facebook, Google+ gained popularity worldwide, thanks to its user-friendly, relatively-simple user interface. Although, there were millions of users worldwide, Google was not happy with the user engagement statistics. It could never compete with Facebook, in terms of user numbers or the time of engagement on the social network.

The following chart shows how Facebook beat its rivals comfortably at their own game:

Since the average time spent by a user on the network started plummeting, Google must have felt the need of terminating the operation of Google+ for some time. The two successive data breaches appeared to have accelerated the process.

It has not been a good year for social networks in general. The data scandal involving Facebook triggered off a tsunami of bureaucratic measures, warning the companies not to take privacy of the users for granted any more.

In addition, the users, mostly those of the young generation of the developed countries, have been deserting the established ones in droves in order to embrace newer ones such as Instagram.

In addition, the advertising revenue has been squeezed due to the accumulation of many factors over the years. The data breach, the most serious one, actually elevated the threat to their long-term survival to a new level.

From 2015 to 2018, the advertising revenue has been as follows:

Statistic: Advertising revenues of selected social networks in the United States from 2015 to 2018 (in million U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Although, the consumer version of Google+ - the version that the average user is familiar with – is going to be shut down in a matter of days, the enterprise version may remain alive for some time.

Personally, I am joining millions of users who actively make regular contributions to make it relevant. By contributing to one its most popular academicals page, I managed to attract over 30 million views in a matter of four years. There are thousands of users / contributors on the same wavelength who collectively feel sad about the arrival of the end of Google+ - and in this manner.

- Asian Tribune -

The Death of a Social Network: Google+ to be shut down in 90 days
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