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About G+host Stories
Here I post facts, data, published analysis, and news to check the rumors and news stories claiming Google+ is a ghost town or dead. I focus on hints of platform activity and Google’s commitment to Google+.

My story
I’ve been on Google+, used it daily, and interacted with ordinary and influential users since day one. Now I’m a member of the Google+ Create program that recognizes creative users.

I likely logged more usage time on the platform than all the reporters claiming Google+ is dead, combined.
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Google Maps lists can be shared also to Google+
Many wonder whether Google+ is still getting continuous support from Google.

The latest hint it is is a freshly released Google Maps feature, the ability to share lists of places. The sharing dialog on the web includes Google+ as the first option along with Facebook and Twitter. So yes, Google is still supporting Google+.
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Fake Google+ shutdown notices
Many in the tech press have been announcing the demise of Google+ for years but these claims have been turning into fake news lately.

Some users shared screenshots such as this of allegedly official @Google tweets announcing the shutdown of Google+ sometime between the end of 2017 and January 18, 2018, citing improbable reasons such as legal issues or replacing it with a new social platform. See also this one:

If you think Google+ is going to be shut down in a couple of months or less you should explain why new features are continually being added to the platform:
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Free inflight Wi-Fi access to Google+
+Eric Jones took a flight where the inflight Wi-Fi gave free access to a bunch of Google products including Google+. I’m not sure to what extent Google is involved in the promotion but it’s interesting Google+ is among the few featured products.
This thing on? Apparently my in flight wifi let's Google through without paying the exorbitant fees. Free Allo/Hangouts and G+! Everything else redirects to the purchase page.
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Sergey Brin still uses Google+
For the second time in 17 days Google co-founder and Alphabet President +Sergey Brin posted to his Google+ profile. This time he wonders about the safety of a man he met a few years earlier at an island now affected by Hurricane Irma. Sergey also engaged by asking for updates from the area.

It’s great to see such a prominent Google/Alphabet executive resuming using his Google+ profile at least occasionally, hopefully very infrequently for natural disasters like in this case.

Who uses Google+ anymore? Sergey Brin
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Who uses Google+ anymore? Sergey Brin
Google co-founder and Alphabet President +Sergey Brin hadn’t been posting to Google+ since August 2015. The great 2017 American eclipse motivated him to post again on August 22, 2017 to share a couple of photos he took.

I guess few noticed such a prominent Google/Alphabet executive used the platform.
I hope everyone who tried got a chance to see the solar eclipse yesterday. The previous 4 total eclipses I have seen all had at least some clouds so I felt very lucky to get the birthday gift of clear skies (see photos below).

The last total eclipse on August 21 was in 1914 and an expedition tried to confirm Einstein's theory of general relativity but they were foiled due to war (and Einstein's calculations being off). The next solar eclipse on my birthday will be in 2036 but this will be a partial (barring advances in space travel). The next totality on August 21 will be in 2734 in Antarctica and who knows what the world will be like then ...
2 Photos - View album
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Google does Google+ user research
The Google User Experience Research website lets users sign up for user experience and usability studies on current and future products and technologies.

The signup process involves filling a form with basic user information and a number of surveys to determine which types of research or products the user is a good fit for. Some products have sections with additional questions such as the Google Docs editors and YouTube. Others don’t, like Blogger.

Guess what? Google+ has had for years -- and still has -- its own detailed survey section asking several questions on how the platform is used. Yes, Google is still working on Google+.
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Google+ is the #1 social network in customer satisfaction
According to the July 25, 2017 American Customer Satisfaction Index report Google+ ranks #1 in customer satisfaction ahead of Twitter and Facebook. As +Mike Elgan noted in the shared post, this is no reason to celebrate as the top spot is more the result of other platforms doing bad than Google+ doing well.

A Washington Post story covered the ACSI report almost in disbelief, feeling the need to counter the achievement with something negative like mentioning an over 2-years old estimate of the Google+ user base at 111 users:

The most-loved social network among Americans isn’t the one you think

Unless Google releases up to date user data, we’ll have to live with such estimates and claims regardless of how accurate they are.
Why is Google+ is the #1 social network in “customer satisfaction”?

The American Customer Satisfaction Index released its 2017 e-business report yesterday, and Google+ comes out on top.

Here are the social networks ranked in order with their ACSI scores:

1. Google+ (81)
2. Pinterest (78)
3. Wikipedia (77)
4. Instagram (75)
5. YouTube (74)
6. Facebook (68)
7. Linkedin (65)

They measure this every year. The biggest gainers year-over-year are Twitter (jumped 8 points) and Google+ (7 points higher than last year). YouTube satisfaction dropped (by 4 points).

That Google+ beats Facebook and Twitter is old news. Google+ has always bested them. Two years ago, I posted on the annual report. Back then, Google+ was edged out only by Pinterest, Wikipedia, YouTube and Instagram. Since then, G+ has risen to the top of everybody.

I’m a journalist, so let me emphasize the negative.

This is really nothing to celebrate, even for Google+ fans. The reality is that none of the social sites ranked in this index has gotten better, except for Instagram (“Stories” improved it) and possibly Twitter (their anti-harassment policies are marginally better.)

The truth is that Google+ isn’t as great as when it ranked lower. Google turned it from the Mother of All Social sites that could do anything into a kind of visual Reddit, de-emphasizing Circles and getting rid of the awesome Shared Circles feature. They spun out Hangouts. They got rid of Google+’s good photo editing tools and replace that with Google Photos’ bad editing tools. They decoupled Google+ from Gmail. And over the past 3 or 4 years, spammers and scammers and others came pouring in to degrade the quality of conversation.

Google+ is by far the best (and most satisfying) social network. But I suspect it’s not because users like it more. It’s because they like the other social networks less.

For example, I suspect Wikipedia is losing ground not because of the quality of Wikipedia, but because people increasingly dislike being confronted with facts that challenge their existing beliefs. Wikipedia doesn’t belong on a list of social networks (Reddit should replace it). But since it’s here, it should be ranked highest.

In other words, what the top-two sites (Google+ and Pinterest) have in common is that they both prioritize the individual passions and interests people have – they both enable users to self-select into communities where people broadly agree with each other – unlike networks where people who disagree are encouraged to seek out and clash with each other.

In a better social world, debating contentious issues in a “public square” setting should satisfy. But it doesn’t, largely because of weaponized news, propaganda, fake news and the prevailing political culture of partisanship, ideology and tribalism above reason and fact.

The social network universe is in sad state right now. The two social networks that dominate with active user counts, Facebook and Facebook’s Instagram, also rank highest in their abilities to make users miserable, according to science.

Instagram has ignited a global arms race of success theater, where people are completely re-arranging their lives in order to photograph and share “instagrammable moments.” That competition has prioritized performance over experience, and it makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

The media continues to obsess over and champion Twitter, artificially inflating its value or importance.

Trolls, bots, paid-propagandists, morons and haters wreck Twitter replies. The world of YouTube comments is still a vapid cesspool.

Popularity contest sites like Instagram, Twitter and YouTube shower the few with fame, influence and money, while the majority of users languish in obscurity.

Secret algorithms quietly censor discourse beyond the understanding of users, and companies skew our streams for profit. (There’s no money in giving users all the control. That’s why Google killed Google Reader.)

And the top two, Google+ and Pinterest, remain gender-imbalanced.

So, yes, Google+ is the best (and most satisfying) social network. It has been since the beginning.

But, no, it’s not because Google+ has gotten better. It’s because some of the other social networks have remained bad or gotten worse. And the larger world of conversation in our culture has become toxic.

The good news is that sites like Google+ still enable us to create our own communities where we can cultivate the kind of social interaction we need. And that’s pretty satisfying.

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Keeping the dead Google+ claims alive
The 6th birthday of Google+ came and went and I was a little surprised the few major news stories about it didn’t rehash the usual bashing:

6th Google+ anniversary press coverage roundup

But now the [death|ghost town] claims are back thanks to, surprise, TechCrunch that missed the birthday.

The author of this story about the newly announced Google feed takes the occasion for a brief stab on Google+ calling it, you wouldn’t guess, dead and a ghost town. In a Twitter exchange the author, Josh Constine, said Google+ “failed to be a meaningful contributor to culture at scale”:

By this definition of success Facebook gave a meaningful contribution to culture at scale, whatever that means.
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6th Google+ anniversary press coverage roundup
Google+ celebrated its 6th birthday a few days ago, on June 28, 2017. Here are some of the tech news stories and opinions on the milestone:

Why Google+ Is Still My Favorite Social Network by +David Amerland

Happy happy birthday: Google+ turns six years old today

Did you know Google+ is 6 years old today?

Comment: Google+ still exists six years later, but I finally gave up on it because of the rampant spam

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Google+ turns 6 years old today

This year’s common theme is the spam flooding Google+. I’ve also noticed the level of snark and bashing seems down a notch in the press coverage.
Google Plus Six Years On

Google Plus is six. Over the last six years the platform has changed considerably. It is still, however, one of the major reasons why I spend as much time online as I do and the people I have met here have rocked my world.
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