Even though Google used an invitation system to control access to its new Google+ social network, the thing took off like gangbusters. It was the fastest network to ever reach 25 million visitors in its first month, and Facebook has been rolling out feature after feature that look suspiciously similar to offerings on the Goog’s service. If you couldn’t score an invite and have been wondering what all the hub-bub was about, today’s your day; Google+ is now open to all comers.
You can now follow people you don't personally know on Facebook, just like on Google+ and Twitter. All you have to do is mash the Subscribe button in the upper-right corner of someone's profile. You're then given the same granular control over subscription feeds as you are with your friends, allowing you to filter how much information gets piped to your news feed.
It's starting to become clear why Mark Zuckerberg joined Google+ and it's not because he's grown tired of his own social network. He wants to know the competition, as in Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, and maybe learn a thing or three in the process. Zuckerberg seems to have learned that Google+'s social Circles rock and Facebook's friend lists could use a bit of work, so Mr. Zuckerberg and company went to work improving things.
Researchers at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University just released a study that's sure to ruffle a few feathers, and may freak out parents of Facebooking teens. What the study found is that teens who regularly hop onto Facebook, MySpace, or other social networking sites are much more likely to do things they shouldn't be doing, like drinking alcohol and smoking pot.
Google+ is pretty rad. It has a Twitter element, in that you can follow others and have others follow you without being linked together as friends, and it hasn't been around long enough to pick up some of Facebook's bad habits, like bungled policy controls. But for all of its potential, Facebook is still the No. 1 social site on the planet and it's showing no signs of slowing down.
Google+ skyrocketed to over 25 million members in record time for a social networking site, a pace that suggests Google actually has a shot at one day kicking Facebook off its social throne. If that's going to happen, Google+ doesn't just need a large userbase, it needs an active userbase that actually post updates, share photos and links, plays games, and everything else people are already doing on Facebook. Are they doing it?
So you've dipped your toes in the Stream, started a news feed wildfire using only a Spark, and, well, hung out in Hangouts. Not bad – you've certainly jumped feet-first into the social world of Google+. But dabbling is not the same thing as mastering, young grasshopper; grab your Google Bar and let us be your sensei in the art of Google+-Fu.
Haters been hating on Google+. Sure, maybe it's just the Goog's attempt to draw advertisee eyeballs from Facebook, and okay, the invite system kinda sucks, and yeah, sometimes it feels like you're talking to yourself in a big, empty room. Those are all perfectly valid complaints. But G+ brings a lot of new things to the table, and despite the naysayers, an unprecedented number of people have been lining up to give the service a whirl. We're only one month in to the Google+ experience and 25 million visitors have already tested the waters.
With or without your participation, Google+ just keeps growing at a record rate, and it appears the social networking site has officially breached the 20 million members mark, at least unofficially. Confused? Google isn't reporting that number -- not yet anyway -- but market research firm comScore is, which we can take as a more reliable metric than Ancestry.com co-founder Paul Allen's formula for measuring Google+'s growth.
Forget about jumping on board the Google+ bandwagon, Google's social networking service is more like a freight train picking up cargo and steam each passing day. According to Paul Allen, a Google+ user and co-founder of Ancestry.com (and not the Paul Allen who co-founded Microsoft), Google+ is already right at the 18 million user mark just three weeks after launch.