Like other companies in the highly competitive social media marketplace, Google wrestles with the problem of getting users to sign up and commit to services. To get more users on its Google+ social network, the search giant has come up with a simple solution: Force them.
Google has vast digital holdings — including Gmail, YouTube, Zagat restaurant guides, and the Picnik photo service — and now users who sign up for any of its platforms also automatically have a Google+ account. Voila!
The company, best known for its search engine, intends to challenge Facebook as the preeminent social network on the Web. However, Facebook has an estimated one billion users and Google+ has had a hard time keeping people on the site since its inception in 2011.
So Google is integrating public Google+ pages across its platforms, even if some employees within the company see the move as a desperate ploy to get users on the site.
"Google+ is Google," Google Vice President Bradley Horowitz told the Wall Street Journal. "The entry points to Google+ are many, and the integrations are more every day."
Another spokesperson told the Journal they were requiring public profiles of users on, for example, Zagat because it increased the quality of the content by not allowing users to leave comments anonymously.
However, some Google+ users are concerned about the level of privacy given to their automatic public profiles, as opposed to Facebook's stringent privacy setting. The pages have users’ real names, are public by default, and are viewable in Google searches.
When Sam Ford signed up for a Google+ page to utilize its automatic photo upload feature, he was startled to find his photos in a publicly viewable folder.
Ford told the Wall Street Journal that Google was "trying too hard to compete with Facebook, and if people aren't going to share willingly, they'll make them share unwillingly."
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