Back in December, Google and Facebook changed their relationship to “It’s Complicated” after Google blocked Facebook from accessing user Gmail accounts to find new friends, like people can do with most email providers. Now Google has elevated cyber feud status to DEFCON 2 with the launch of Google+, a new social networking site aimed at making data-sharing more convenient for users. Basically, Google is upset that Facebook enjoys the right to pull contact information and download data from other sites but not vice versa. It’s a case of having your Farmville and eating it, too.
Yesterday, Google’s Data Liberation Front launched Google Takeout, a new service that allows users to download all of their personal data – contact, Buzz feed, photos, profile and stream – in one easy-to-access zip file so it can be used by other social networks. For instance, if I wanted to share my collection of thousands of Megan Fox photos with my friends. Which I don’t.
Facebook, by contrast, gave users the ability to export their photos and stream in October, but only as html files that users can save to their computer and browse. Facebook does not allow users to export their profile and contacts’ email addresses and phone numbers from Facebook, saying it would be a violation of user privacy to let you export your friends’ e-mail addresses.
Facebook’s answer is that it has a way for users to share their data with other services — Facebook Connect — which lets you share information with other sites by signing on to those sites with your Facebook credentials. (Via Wired’s Epicenter)
While the two sites may never come to agreement, Google+ could possibly answer the question – “What comes next after Facebook and Twitter?” It just depends if people A) Are ready for the commitment of another social networking site; 2) Have the attention span to handle another site; and III) Mind being caught in the crossfire of a social networking war. And the answer to all three is yes. Give me now, please.
Google+, which is currently in an invite-only phase so start stomping your feet and holding your breath until someone gives you an invite, will feature the following perks:
Circles – On Facebook, you can split your friends into groups to help manage your chatting and general associations. Google+ will use “Circles” to allow users to share data with specific groups of friends and associates, creating a more focused system.
Hangouts – Google+ is also bringing back the chatroom with a sleek new design for users to keep in touch with their Circles more conveniently. These new “Hangouts” will allow users to create and participate in video chats with anyone they choose to invite.
Huddle – And if you’re a catcher-upper on the go, “Huddle” allows users to continue their chatrooms through text messages.
Photos – Google+ will also have a basic photo-sharing application, through which I may or may not share my Megan Fox photo collection.
Sparks – If your friends’ status updates aren’t entertaining enough, Google+ lets users determine what shows up in their news feed by doing all the dirty work through “Sparks”. You can tell Google what you’re interested in and it will load your news feed with articles, images, blog posts and anything else that it thinks you might enjoy. Like Megan Fox.
(Check out Google’s exclusive Google+ demo map.)