I was an early adopter into G+. I was already getting the willies about Facebook back in 2011 and was looking for a way to curate links to thinkers and artists that wasn't designed around monetizing my existing relationships. Facebook serves a purpose - keeping you in touch with extended friends and family, but that echo-chamber doesn't help you develop new ideas and perspectives, it tends to be a pretty insular place... even a petri dish for spreading fake news. I know a number of people who have since radically diminished or backed right out of the increasingly caustic environment on Facebook, but I was looking for ways out way back in 2011.
That Facebook is an advertising company built around monetizing my personal relationships has always bothered me, so into G+ I leapt. G+ allowed me to curate connections that Facebook wouldn't. Over the years I've developed links to thousands of people, almost none of them based on personal relationships. Those links exist because these people are not mainstream (most celebrities don't use G+, there's no money in it). G+ was my go to for intelligent, curated content that I wasn't seeing anywhere else on the internet.
Google recently announced that is was shutting down Google Plus under what everyone agrees are pretty flimsy circumstances. While other social media giants are leaking data and monetizing fake news in tangible ways, Google is shutting down G+ because of a security vulnerability that never happened. Why it's really shutting G+ down is because it isn't what social media is expected to be these days: an efficient way to capture as many people's personal information as possible in order to monetize it. The problem with G+ is that it's actually a social media network - people go on there to share ideas and often create long form discussions with each other. G+ isn't mainstream, doesn't cater to idiots and doesn't produce easily monetizable lies that you can advertise from.
A G+ user recently posted this: Educators, niche groups will miss Google+
"the people on G+ are just better at the ‘social’ part of networking" - true that. I can expect a constant boil of political negativity and nonsense often based on outright lies on Facebook, which has established itself as the low bar for social media because it's the one everyone is on. We underestimate how many stupid people there are in the world, but Facebook hasn't and it has become a giant catering to them. It might have been smaller than other social media, but G+ was a carefully curated, rich source of content I wasn't seeing anywhere else. I'll miss it.
The early 21st century attention economy feels a lot like robber baron capitalism of the 19th Century. In that time industrialization was driving new economies in natural resource extraction and manufacturing in an entirely unsustainable way that produced obscene amounts of wealth for a small number of people. Sound familiar? The new resource these days is our attention. If you've developed a low relative use (G+ had millions of active users, which isn't Facebook's billions) social media platform that encourages long form reading and benign, drama-free interaction between its users you're not churning through the resource as efficiently as you could be. As a result you're not aggressively pursuing the marketing money like every other corporate social media platform is.
The upside of this is that the end of Google Plus has me looking for alternatives, and people like Tim Berners-Lee and others are trying to pry your personal data out of the tax dodging attention economy robber barons. Think you could leave the Google mothership? I'm trying.
Some alternate social media sites I'm trying:
GooglePlus users are pretty handy at self organizing (the best they could hope for from Google was benign neglect). Many are working to organise the diaspora.
Engineered with privacy-by-design, MeWe turns the table on Facebook and other social media companies with a revolutionary service that emphasizes privacy and social sharing where people can be their true, uncensored selves. No Ads. No Spyware. No BS. MeWe members are #Not4Sale and enjoy the protection of MeWe’s Privacy Bill Of Rights.
A favourite landing spot of G+ users that offers strong user-focused privacy controls.
My next steps are to look into blockchain driven encrypted networks that offer adamant user protections from the powers that be... here's a link to some early research on that.
Eventually this will mean pulling up stakes at Blogger (Google's blogging platform), but that's a tricky business. I've migrated to WordPress with Mechanical Sympathy and import blog posts from my three Blogger blogs (Dusty World, Tim's Motorcycle Diaries and Kingfisher Imaging), but I've found blogging in Wordpress to be needlessly fussy. Blogger's great advantage is it's simple to use which is vital when I'm concentrating on writing. If I can get Wordpress to give me a WYSIWYG editing tool that isn't so annoying when formatting text and inputting digital media I'd be looking at migrating there too.
Just as a follow up - it appears I have more that 100 gigabytes of data stored in the Google cloud. I imagine I'm fairly typical of any Android/Google based web user. I've paid for the devices and the bandwidth needed to create that repository, and Google has then used it to advertise, all while making billions.