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Social Media Wars

Link: http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/30/what-google-is-all-about/

Three months ago, Google launched its all-out, impudent competitor to Facebook and Twitter called Google Plus. With additional features and ground-breaking new concepts, Google plus has posed a serious threat to the existing players. The Social Media Wars between SNS site giants for the ultimate dominance of Social Networking Service is getting intense. For Google+, the comparisons to reigning social king Facebook are inevitable and its survival almost solely depends on its novelty and creativeness. After all, this is a battle between small ideas that can really make a difference.

The most notable thing in Google + is that the traditional two-way “friend” relationships has disappeared. Facebook users are connected by undirected edges. Information is transmitted by traversing the edge, and making it visible to the users’ neighboring nodes. Unlike Facebook, there are no “friend” relationships that users feel obligated to accept on Google +. Instead, Google + users create their own friend groups composed of other users — “Circles”. You do not need other users’ approval to add them in your circles and listing several people into a same circle doesn’t connect them to one another the way a Facebook group does. The circle is created for convenience purposes only and it fundamentally changed our traditional definition of edge in social networking sites. In fact, Google + creates directed edges from the users to their intended targets.

The idea of circles work likes this: you can share things with each other or see each other’s updates as a group. Of course, this can also be done in Facebook but in a more complicated manner. Therefore, Google + encourages users to carefully choose which circles and individuals to share information with. In Google+, the whole circle becomes a node instead of an individual (as in Facebook), and this enhances privacy protection and lets users actively think about sharing some things with his or her circle. The subscriber could maintain the information’s privacy by defining a subset of users to whom to send the messages. This method not only better protects the privacy of the users, but also provides a more powerful filter system for users.

Besides “Circles”, Google + also has many other novel features such as the “Hangouts” and sparks. Hangouts are group video chats that can support ten users simultaneously. Facebook has already added a one on one video chat function in response.  Google+ also has added games online like Angry Birds, and has significantly improved its integration with YouTube. There is no doubt that Google + is starting to put pressure on Facebook and is forcing Facebook to add new features in response.

Of course it is still incredibly early for anyone to declare Google Plus a success… or a failure. The service has a long way to go, and it still has much room for improvement, especially once the novelty Google + starts to wear off.  However, this Social Media War is definitely going to be an interesting struggle and whoever wins it would lead a new way of social networking.

Wei Wei    ww254

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