Wow, Google is finally retiring it’s social network (well, the one that was publicly called one, Gmail and Youtube are social networks, too). I guess, a lot of SEOs aren’t happy at all right now. After all, Google is not only flushing a lot of their work down the toilet, but also pulling the plug on future contracts as well as work in progress. Best thing about it: Google is burning the money of everyone who ever invested into building a G-Plus profile and nobody can do anything about it. It’s in the fucking TOS: the whole thing can go away at any time for any reason with no compensation. I have been skeptical about social networks for years, endured SEO expert “advice” on how great social media is (and that you should sign up on all of them) and been telling people to read the TOS before signing up to any services. Plus being shut down feels so satisfactory right now.
Enough of the gloating. The interesting question is what does this mean for the future.
Sure, Plus was always more of a graveyard and Google is known for pulling the plug on unsuccessful projects. Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder, if this may be the prelude to something much, much bigger.
What happened earlier in 2018? We had the Facebook/Cambridge-Analytica scandal, the European GDPR went life and Microsoft bought Github. Why is Github important in this context? Well, Github is a social network run on top of cloud storage. A lot of developers weren’t happy at all to learn that their digital alter ego suddenly had a new landlord. Microsoft more or less (legally) hacked into their accounts using cash!
Social media is still incredibly popular today, but I think, Google is starting to see the writing on the wall. Public opinion is tipping, as more and more people are realizing that putting your life on file and hoping for the best is probably not a smart idea. It has always been the business plan of all (major) social networks to first lure people in with freebies (want a free email address?), make them dependant (all your contacts know your “free” email address) and then blackmail them (TOS update – we want more data! Accept or your “free” email account goes poof!). Now, legislation is finally catching up. Under the GDPR, users can finally hold social network operators accountable for loosing their data, turning profiles from assets into liabilities. Remember Facebook? With its $104 billion IPO? The share price was backed almost entirely by the amount of user profiles they had back then. Now every single one of those profiles is a lawsuit waiting to happen and eventually it will happen. The next Cambridge-Analytica is going to end in court and that’s going to end badly for the company. Don’t believe me? Look at were tobacco companies were two decades ago and were they are now. Social media is the current day’s cigarette.
So, Google Plus? According to their blogpost, they had a “minor” breach earlier this year. I think, shutting Plus down really is hitting the panic switch and pulling out of the market while they still can. Once America gets its own version of the GDPR, social networks will (finally) go the way of the Dodo. Good riddance!