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Google+ may represent the biggest threat Facebook has ever faced since it launched more than half a decade ago. But is Google's new social network, which may be off to the fastest start ever for a social network, already buckling underneath the surface?

Despite the fact that Google may have finally built a social network capable of competing in the market, cracks are showing which raise doubts about Google+'s future prospects.

Crack #1: Google is already kicking users off of Google+.

For obvious reasons, Google doesn't want 'fake' users infiltrating Google+. After all, there's a strong argument to be made that Facebook's early restrictions, which required a .edu email address, helped it acquire an audience of superior quality early on.

But in trying to weed out fake accounts, Google sparked some ire this weekend, as real users were booted from the service. According to Robert Scoble, Vic Gundotra, Google's social chief, "says [the Google+ team] made some mistakes while doing the first pass at this and they are learning. He also says the team will change how they communicate with people. IE, let them know what they are doing wrong, etc."

That's obviously a good thing, but the fact that Google is already having to make "tough choices" raises questions about just how much Google can massage (or micromanage) Google+'s evolution before it makes one or more high-stakes missteps.

Crack #2: The spammers are already flocking.

It isn't necessarily surprising that spammers are already targeting Google+, and more specifically its +1 button. But that doesn't mean that this shouldn't be of concern to Google. This type of activity can be very difficult.

Twitter, for instance, has been around for years and the spam keeps coming. That hasn't killed Twitter, of course, but there are some (myself included) who use it far less because of the spam.

The biggest risk for Google is that spammers will focus even more of their attention on its burgeoning social network in the hopes that Google+ metrics will become ranking signals for Social Search.

Crack #3: Google is preparing to launch a social gaming platform.

Google+ isn't Facebook, yet that apparently isn't stopping Google from trying to hit Facebook where it could hurt most. According to reports, Google is planning to launch a platform that would lure social game developers to Google+ with a lower tax than Facebook is requiring developers to pay to use its Credits system, which is now mandatory. Google is already reaching out to developers according to some of the reports.

Of course, that Google+ would eventually support social games seems like a no-brainer, but now is not the time. Google+ is off to a strong start, but Google is nowhere near ready to turn Google+ into a Facebook replacement.

Instead of trying to do everything under the sun as quickly as possible, Google should focus on making Google+ a great social network before it tries to make it a great platform. If it doesn't, don't be surprised if Google+ collapses under its own weight as too much is added, too soon.

Patricio Robles

Published 27 July, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2390 more posts from this author

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Russell Bishop

...how are these cracks? What a nonsense bit of reporting.

"...cracks are showing which raise doubts about Google+'s future prospects."

Patricio, perhaps you haven't got much on at the moment at Econsultancy, but your idea for an article is moronic.

about 5 years ago

Martin McAndrew

Martin McAndrew, Online Marketing Manager at Redweb

I think Google+ in its current format is a really good foundation to a "platform" on.

Point 1) - Is this not a good thing?

Point 2) - I am sure that not all Google +1s are created equal, with the huge amount of experience Google has with spammers i am sure they must have considered this.

Point 3)- This is great news and only adds value to using this service.

There is are rumours of a lot of good ideas in the pipeline the one i am looking forward too the most are the Business pages. (beta release pushed back again!!)

I think with the Google OS, documents, social, and marketing platforms, Google+ has only helped increase its on-line dominance.

If anything in my opinion Google has shown the most restraint yet with this product making sure things are working well before beta release and not rushing out new features.

Twitter: @MartinMcAndrew

about 5 years ago

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BigDogStudioX

Not sure if I would call it cracks.. Facebook had it's hiccups and still do..

Google + is very interesting but it's also a hype. What happens when the hype is gone will the people stay? In 'social media' it's interesting times as people are torn between Facebook and Google+ with Twitter being the only strong point in between. I suspect Twitter to grow out of this and I really do not know if Google+ will be able to change most peoples daily routine that is "checking their fb and twitter"

@BigDogStudioX

about 5 years ago

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Jenni

I think it's a mistake for Google to enter into social gaming right now. Whilst it would make the service extremely popular and be a great money generator, Google+'s strong point at the moment is that it has a very heavily tech-based audience and should be capitalising on that. Bringing together things like web industry conferences and 'virtual' conferences via Hangouts would be a huge advantage and could be expanded on a lot more, particularly if there were 'famous' faces involved. There are also plenty of other tech-related features that could be added. Setting themselves up against Facebook means that ultimately there can only be one winner, and we don't need another battle of similar social networks.

about 5 years ago

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Rufus Bazley

I think most of the point above are all positive ones, getting rid of spammers is great the fact there are doing this already is excellent and that they are admitting they made a mistake and letting user who are kick for spam come back on it good customer service (something not seen very often with Google).

the thing that would drive me off of Google+ is there social games, if i start getting spammed on there like i do with Facebook my use of it will definitely be decreasing.

So far Google+ looks great it's clear, easy to manage.

Thanks
R

about 5 years ago

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Oliver Elliott, Head of Digital Marketing at MyOptique Group (Glasses Direct)

Strange, I thought I was at Mashable for a moment there.
Point one does seem to have been a social management fail - they didn't bother to notify people???
Point two is inevitable but will decrease in relative terms when the hype dies down and pedestrians start using.
Point three can only be good, non?

about 5 years ago

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Matthew Read

I don't just want to repeat what others have already said, but I wouldn't call these cracks!

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all kick off users if they break the rules and all of them have been subject to spammers since the day they began, yet have still been incredibly successful.

With regards to the gaming side of things, this will just be another notch on Google’s belt, and I don't see it taking anything away from Google+.

about 5 years ago

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Joe Cibula

Here's the crack: We have an "e-cosystem" built around PPC. That's why we went back to the root of the problem, and inversed search.

about 5 years ago

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Pablo

What we’ve got right now with G+ is a very sparse and basic beta foundation layer. With the early adopters mostly being tech folk, Google have played an early ace getting free feedback from techies to iron out the creases prior to full release. Even the negative gripes about privacy and glitches keep G+ in the spotlight.

If they get the foundation layer right, they’ve won. Facebook is a complex platform, well beyond its initial foundation structure. You start messing with the foundations this late in the game, your structure becomes unstable.

Google have had a lot of resources tied up in G+ for some time. They will have big gun features in the locker saved up. They’ll just keep releasing them week after week making them impossible to catch.

about 5 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

I think that we are being overly harsh of Google+. A lot of people are expecting it to fail, so they are jumping on every little thing that isn't perfect as a sign of it's pending doom. The truth is we don't know if Google+ will be a huge hit or epic flop. It is too early in the game to tell.

about 5 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Russell,

Comments containing more insult than substance usually reveal more about the person writing them than they do about the content they're in response to.

That said, I'll try to simplify what I wrote for you so that you can understand:

1. Google's attempt to enforce its "real names" rule was not only poorly executed technically, but Google also failed to communicate what it was doing. The point: it's difficult to try to micromanage a service so that it evolves in the precise fashion you expect it to. That's precisely what Google was trying to do here. You can see a similar dynamic with Google+'s approach to brand profiles.

2. Weeks in, spammers are already aggressively targeting Google+. Is spam a death sentence? No -- just look at Twitter. But for obvious reasons having to deal with an influx of spammers less than a month after a high-profile launch is not desirable.

3. The number of people actively playing a single game on Facebook (Farmville) each month far exceeds the number of total people using Google+, yet Google is reportedly already prepping the launch of a Google+ API for social games. Bottom line: Rome wasn't built in a day, yet Google appears to be thinking it can build Rome in a day. Again, expecting to build a Facebook-like platform before you have an established social network is a risky strategy.

Don't agree? A rebuttal a little more thoughtful and respectful than "your idea for an article is moronic" would be far more likely to produce the kind of intelligent, adult debate that we usually see in the comments here on Econsultancy.

about 5 years ago

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Ibuyfbfans

That Google+ is showing cracks is just one of those hitches any new technological development faces. I see no reason bringing down the axe on them as improvements can always be applied over time. Fingers crossed!

about 5 years ago

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elisa aedison

I don't want to repeat all these points again which all of you had already mentioned in your posts. but if Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn break the rules then all of them have been subject to spammers since the day they began, yet have still been successful.

about 5 years ago

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