So, what actually went wrong with Google+?

Google+ logo.

Today (April 2nd) marks the date that Google+ will officially come to an end. Following the news last October that the social network would be shutting down its consumer version, we have already seen the loss of various functionalities such as creating new accounts & pages and commenting and today, all Google+ accounts and pages will be shut down.

Not that we’re mourning the loss, but its left many of us wondering where things went so wrong. So let’s break it down…

High Hopes

Let’s quickly go back to happier days… It’s 2011 and Google are making their fourth venture into the world of social networking.  This time, they were there to take on the head honcho of social networks – Facebook!

Despite Google+ being launched without a real plan and out of the fear of Facebook killing Google completely, it started off well. It became a social layer across all of Googles services. Features such as Circles, +1’s and the ability to post photos and statuses to users feeds sound familiar?

After a month, it had 25 million sign ups. Many of these weren’t aware that they’d opened a Google+ account. It was just a side effect of signs ups to other Google services.

Start of the Downfall

With such a large number of inactive users, Google+ became less of the social network that developers had hoped for, and more of a way of gathering and connecting user information.

Google claims that the consumer version of the platform was also affected by low engagement rates. It was even found that over 90% of user sessions lasted less than 5 seconds.

In 2015, Google+ underwent a redesign with the intention of making the platform faster and easier to use. Instead it ended up incorporating a feature that allowed users to revert to the original version.

Final Nail in the Coffin

In the Spring of 2018 (although not disclosed for 6 months), a software bug was discovered which leaked the data of over 500,000 users. Even though Google carried out a full security audit and said they found no evidence that developers were aware of the bug and that no data has been misused, The News of the World had already condemned the network as “one of Google’s biggest failures”.

The shutdown was originally planned for August 2019. However the discovery of a second bug, which gave external developers access to non-public user data, meant that it was brought forward to April.

So, there we have it, Google+ is no more. If you’re sad to see it go, don’t worry… as history proves, we probably won’t be waiting too much longer before Google have another shot at the social network bullseye.