This summer, a new social network was born, Google+, whose ambition is to knock Facebook off the top spot. Like every social network, it is presented in the form of a website or platform to which you subscribe for free in order to communicate, and exchange news, videos and photos with friends who are members of the network. The promise in the advertisement for Google+ is nothing if not ambitious: it aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life. In other words, you will be able to speak to and share with your friends who are members of Google+ as if you were in the same room with them. Google+ offers services it claims are totally new – so much so that Google itself, the creator of this network, has had to think up new words for these new functionalities. For example, there’s the "Hangout" function: you can set up a virtual space or room identified by its own URL, which you send to your friends so that they can hang out with you: you can share a laugh watching a video on Youtube, and chat on video, thanks to the webcam. And if an unknown member of the network discovers your hangout and asks to join, you might meet new friends to hang out with.
About its Messenger feature, Google explains:"Coordinating friends can be hard, especially if you’re trying to text a bunch of people at once. Messenger brings all those separate conversations into one simple group chat, so everyone is on the same page with no hassle". It’s a group chat that lets you dialogue by sending messages at the same time to a whole group of friends – the ones, for instance, with whom you’re planning to go to a restaurant. Now, you can choose where to meet according to the rules of democracy. Much easier than having to keep calling Leo, then Charlie, then Ben, then Nina until you finally agree whether it’s going to be Thai or Greek.
With its Search service, Google+ offers to bring you "updates from your circles, news from around the web and public Google+ posts, giving you instant access to the topics you care about and the people who care about them along with you" (let us not forget that it is, first and foremost, a powerful search engine). You may well be thinking by now that Google is getting a bit too involved in your life, but you might be reassured by the innocent-sounding explanation on one website: that this is just the modern version of all those old newspaper cuttings your grandfather used to save up to send you. But, aside from the new functionalities, Google+ is determined to offer a network that is more secure than Facebook. In fact, Google+ lets you structure your contacts into Circles, of friends, family and university, etc., so you can more easily target what you send out, and not send your parents photos of your ex-boyfriend. Thus, Google refuses anything anonymous, so if you try to open an account under the name of "Apollo 23" you will be ejected from the network pretty smartly. And Google investigates to verify that the names chosen actually correspond to those people, though it only bothers with this for high profile VIPs. In other words, if you find a profile in the name of Nick Clegg, you can be sure it really is the British Deputy PM and not some impersonator.