A Quick Take On Google+

Today, Google announced a new social network called Google+. While it’s invite only at the moment, I thought I would quickly highlight two features, both of which may fundamentally change the way businesses build their social media strategy:

  1. It allows you group friends into circles, so you can share particular information only with a specific group of friends. This is part of Google’s push to promote privacy in social networks, and a direct attack on Facebook’s share everything with all your friends.
  2. It has a discovery engine called Sparks that allows people to discover relevant content identified by Google Search and the Google +1 button.

It is a revolutionary take on how social media will function. It’s invite-only at the moment, but will be rolled out very quickly. At 2020Social, we’re going to examine this very carefully to understand the opportunities/challenges it represents for our clients and share that understanding.

You can see a demo here or just scroll down to find all the demo videos. If you’d like to read more about the service, check out the stories in the NYTimes,  WiredTechcrunch, and Mashable.

I recently wrote about how I believe social media will evolve.

A New Social Network That Likes To Spy

Yesterday, a friend told me about AllMediaPeople, A Social Network Just For Media Professionals (their emphasis, not mine).  So, I moseyed over to take a look at it — as a believer in social media and the digital age of conversations, I love the idea of people setting up social networks, even if they don’t seem to have a business model.

The retired journalist in me still has a couple of kicks left, though, so whenever I see a website without a business model I go looking for links to their privacy policy and their terms of service. If they’re up, you find juicy tit bits about how they’re going to use the information you’re putting up on the site.

Think about it for a second: I don’t know how happy I’d be if the world could see topless photos of me — wait, they can, I’ve made it my profile picture … damn. But, you get the idea. We all have stuff we want to share with people who know us. So, I’m sure we’d all be unhappy if a pervy database administrator was sitting going through our photos, phone numbers or addresses.

Coming back to our friendly social network for media professionals: they didn’t have a TOS or a Privacy Policy that I could find: click here for an image.

That’s when the troll in me emerged: I set up two fake profiles using the names of famous journalists and posted a comment from each. I set up the accounts using throwaway email accounts (the sort that stay alive for a few minutes).

Here’s how a social network that professes to be aimed at a vertical should behave when they find fake accounts: go ahead and delete them. Better still, use a verification system that works. For example, when Facebook — the largest social network I know, correct me if I’m wrong — started up, they were only open to users with a .edu email address.

But here’s how AllMediaPeople addressed the issue. They checked the IP address used to create the account. Ran a reverse-ip. Figured out it belonged to my office. All good till here, maybe. Here’s the shocker: They called and asked if we had started to represent the two journalists in question.

When I was told about it, I burst out laughing imagining what their faces would look like if this social network had called them up instead.

As someone who has almost always signed my name to the stuff I have to say, here’s what I think of AllMediaPeople: it’s a con job. An attempt to gather and sell the data of journalists, PR professionals and Corporate Communications Managers  to real estate brokers who’re going to spam us. And I’m going to stick to this position till they upload a TOS and Privacy Policy that proves me wrong.