On 8 October 2018, just before the launch of Pixel 3, Google Plus, the social network arm of Google bid adieu to the world. The goodbye was preceded by a data security breach, where it was discovered that data of up to 500,000 users had been exposed. Google stated its decision to shut down the social network in a blog post. Google Plus entered the world in June 2011, posing an immediate threat to Facebook, which, at the time was the biggest social network in the hood. While Facebook went on war mode, an illuminating Twitter thread by a former Google designer reveals that Google Plus’ vision was fear-based. “Google built the knowledge graph, and Facebook swooped in and built the social graph. If we don’t own the social graph then we can’t claim to have indexed ALL the world’s data,” the writer quotes Vic Gundotra, senior vice-president of Google Plus at the time.
It stuttered and stammered its way through our Gmail accounts, trying to find a way into our Googled lives. Some of it worked and still exists, such as Google Hangouts (still good for video calling) and Google Photos, a convenient way to store photos on the cloud. But most of it didn’t. It died an obvious death. The big question is, in the absence of this giant, who reigns supreme in the world of social media?
Facebook. What else? Yes, some people might say that Facebook itself is losing numbers, but the services that are gaining from it belong to it as well – Instagram and WhatsApp Messenger.
A little star was born in 2004 in a little dorm room of a pissed off teenager. The star rose and rose amidst controversies and conflicts and applause and entered the lives of pretty much everyone ordained with access to the internet and an agreeable government (sorry, China). So much so that Ravi Agrawal, in his book “India Connected” dedicates an entire chapter explaining how the word internet has become synonymous with Facebook. In The New Yorker’s latest profile of Mark Zuckerberg, the writer Evan Osnos mentioned that 2.2 billion people, that’s a third of humanity, use Facebook at least once a month. Facebook could be its own country.
Although Facebook has had its share of troubles, with the US election scandal, data breaches and falling shares, and stories of how the US is moving away from Facebook, it is still THE biggest giant out there. Here’s why,
- it still remains the most used social networking website
- It OWNS Instagram, the second rapidly rising star in the world of social media, and WhatsApp, the popular chat platform
- It is the only multi-purpose social networking platform out there. YouTube is meant for videos, and Facebook is taking over with its own video sharing feature. LinkedIn is meant for a professional network, and Facebook is informally used for all kinds of relationships. Snapchat caters to a very young audience and its features cannot really replace Facebook.
Whether we like it or not, Facebook is here to stay. Until a giant comes forward with a similar platform. But wait, didn’t Google try doing just that? Makes you wonder what it would take to rattle the Facebook cage that seems to be gently descending over our socially networked world!