So far beyond the few minor glitches here and there I have nothing but good things to say about Google+ – Google’s latest and best entry into the social networking space. So far Google+ seems to be everything you want out of a social network without all the “overhead”. In a lot of ways, Google+ is all the things that Facebook isn’t and that isn’t a bad thing at all. The interface is simple and clean as are most of the products that Google creates internally, which doesn’t include properties that they have acquired like YouTube and Blogger. In any case, Google+ is the first thing to come along in years that should keep Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook up at night. I’m no fool though, Facebook has 750 million users and by the end of the year may well have over a billion, and that is no trivial amount of users.
For everything that I love about Google+, there is one big thing that concerns me about Google+. Ultimately, Google+ will live or die by people’s willingness to accept the central concept of “circles”. Circles allow you to group people in relation to how close you are to them. You can create circles for Family, Friends, Close Friends, and much more. Personally, I think it’s a great way to filter out who you want to say what to. As cool as “circles” are, there is one MAJOR issue about them that concerns me. The biggest thing about Google+ that concerns me, is the security around “circles”. In order for Google+ to be a major success people have to trust that circles will work as intended, which means keeping things private to the circle you sent things to. The fact that users can create what seemingly appears to be an infinite number of “circles”, I am concerned about technical issues with the system being able to handle all these different groupings. What would happen if the integrity of the circles were compromised and things that were meant for one group bleed into other circles and you saw things other people never meant for you to see and vice versa.
Personally, I think this has to be Google’s nightmare scenario and one they need to work very hard to avoid ever happening. The concept of “circles” could change the way we interact in the social space, but it will only take 1 slip up in security or hacking that compromises the integrity of circles and Google+ will go down faster than you can say, that’s all folks. Think about it, if for any reason the integrity of circles is EVER compromised you would probably lose all faith in the concept, let alone the possible havoc that could occur if someone from another circle or someone who is not in your circles sees something they shouldn’t.
I still think Google+ could more than compete with Facebook, but if they don’t put a whole lot of effort into making sure the circles are highly secure, all this goodwill and buzz will be short-lived. If something like what I am describing ever did happen it could possibly damage the company’s image beyond repair, but you know what they say – to win big, you have to bet big.
You know what I think, let us know what you think in the comments.