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Though the Google Plus hysteria seems to be somewhat waning (I thought you may appreciate me abstaining from writing about it previously since it was just about all anyone else wrote about), you can imagine that Zuckers may still be losing a bit of sleep over the whole affair.

With only about 25 million users or so, Google + hasn’t yet come close to the mammoth 750 million that Facebook can boast, but for a network used to almost total social domination (at least in most western countries) it is still not to be sneezed at. The real danger with Google Plus lies in its similarity to Facebook – in the past other popular social networks like Twitter or YouTube haven’t really threatened Facebook, simply because they have been an addition to one’s social profile rather than a replacement. However Google Plus is almost the same as Facebook, just better.  Well, better except for the fact that most people aren’t actually using it.

YET.

Obviously Zuckers does not want to lose any of his millions of trillions of billions of dollars, so the smart choice is to act fast to combat this threat. This is what he and the Facebook team have done, with the recent changes to post functionality and privacy settings.

You may have noticed that when you go to post a status update, the field now looks a little like the image below…

What has changed?

Firstly there are fewer options for attachments – there’s only an ‘add photo’ or ‘ask question’ option, though I notice if you click ‘add photo’ it gives you an option to upload either a photo or a video. You can also attach a link by pasting it into the status box (as always). You can then delete the actual text link from the box if you don’t want it included in the status.

Also the mobile check-in process is changing… you will no longer be able to ‘check-in’, but instead can attach a place to your status (see figure below). This is de-emphasising the prominence of checking-in but still allowing it. Personally I am looking forward to not seeing a sea of ‘such and such is at X’ ‘such and such is at Y’ on my feed every damn Friday or Saturday night. It was getting to the point of ridiculous. You can easily tag people with you at your location, as before, by clicking the little person button to the bottom left of the status bar. Below you can see what it would look like if you added one person and a place. Presumably you would then type in your status eg. “just kidding, as if we can afford it” before these items, so it would appear similar to a normal check-in, but is basically forcing you to include a status rather than just declaring your location.The next thing Facebook has implemented is to combat what I believe is the best feature of Google Plus – the ability to easily selectively share content with people (using Circles). They have added a ‘Friends +’ feature at the bottom right of the status bar (the use of + wasn’t lost on me here!) You can now choose to share with just your friends (default), the wider public (everyone), friends of friends, specific people only, just yourself (weird!!) or everyone EXCEPT those you specify. The options are essentially the same as you had before, but the functionality is just much more obvious now.  It still isn’t as good as Google Circles functionality, but at least it makes sharing with only some people easier than before.

Another recent change (THANK GOD) is the photo viewer. We all recall when somebody on the Facebook team had a complete brainfart and a black background and advertising appeared on our Facebook photo viewer, which was pretty much the worst thing EVER. The FB team have kindly changed the viewer again to appear as below – much less intrusive with white background (covers the entire page with white transparency), and NO advertising. It can be a bit confusing as to how to get out of it as the X button is right up the top right of the profile page, but you can also click Esc to get out, or just click outside the box.

 

 

 

Personally I’m in favour of all of these changes. I still think Google Plus is better in design, but will probably never catch up to Facebook in terms of users, and as a result Facebook will always be the winner overall. Being able to share more efficiently only works if you still have access to the people you want to share with.  It’s only fair to note that the elements that Google Plus beats Facebook on are most likely a result of learning from them after all these years.  I have a Google Plus account (you can add me here: gplus.to/carapring), but honestly I hardly use it at this stage. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future.

What do you think about Google Plus vs Facebook, and do you like these new changes Zuckers and the team have implemented?

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