I can’t find a logical reason to switch to Google+. I’ve heard all the arguments for Circles, and I’m telling you, they’re not a Facebook killer. Despite having a better UI than Facebook lists, they are just as much mental work to create and use. They require thought where Facebook has shown simplicity wins out, and they fail to solve the problems their proponents think they do.
About a year ago I went through all my Facebook friends and deleted anyone I wouldn’t stop to talk to on the street. I put the remaining friends in lists according to how I knew them or where they lived. Though this was a process (and Facebook has made it easier since then), it is simple to maintain and makes me feel I have full control over how I share online.
The thing is, I almost never use these lists. It’s rare that I want to post something on Facebook that I wouldn’t want all of my friends to see. Though I’m confident I could post photos my family wouldn’t see or say something my coworkers couldn’t read, I haven’t found a need.
The ultimate privacy setting is, of course, your own discretion. All the lists and circles in the world won’t protect you if you’re adding people you can’t trust or sharing items you really don’t want certain people to know about.
The other side of the pro-Circles movement is less about privacy and more about filtering noise. Some say they like Google+ Circles because they can share selectively with their work friends, tech friends, basketball friends, foodie friends, etc. They don’t want to bother the techies with the food photos or the basketball friends with work talk.
Though this makes sense in real life, it doesn’t work online. We share online because we want to be recognized. Why would we limit our reach? I love when someone I haven’t talked to in a while likes my Facebook photo, or when someone I wouldn’t have thought would have been interested in something comments on a link I shared. Besides, it’s annoying to decide who to share each post with. Play around with Google+ and you’ll see.
There is certainly a problem of too many irrelevant posts in people’s News Feeds, but Circles don’t solve that. The feed from your foodie friends will still include much more than photos or talk about food.
I’d love to see Facebook or Google (or anyone) create a solution that lets me see particular types of posts or information when I want to see it. For instance, all my friends’ mentions of movies this weekend or all the songs my friends shared this month. That would be a gamechanger.
But so far, Google+ does not offer compelling reason to switch from Facebook. Some people talk about “starting fresh,” adding friends more selectively and organizing them from the start. Sure, but that seems like just as much work as cleaning out your Facebook friends.
Besides, you’ll feel a little silly when Facebook comes out with a solution that sorts your friends automatically. They already have an algorithm that suggests friends to add to certain lists. I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up one day to find Facebook has grouped all of our friends for us.
But then, how often will anyone use them anyway?