When it comes to openness and privacy, Google+ and Facebook are different beasts

by Smedio .com | Culture

This article was written by Douglas Idugboe and originally published on Smedio.

Google launched Google+ to cash in on Facebook’s privacy blues. And till date, things have gone as per plan. Most Google+ users have liked the concept of direct and extended circles. In fact, several technology experts believe that privacy holds the key to the high-stakes Facebook – Google+ battle.

To be honest, I believe that Google+ holds a definite late mover advantage. Google knows the mistakes that Facebook made and there are plenty of lessons to be learnt by its own social media debacles – read Google Wave and OpenSocial.

There’s no denial that privacy is a crucial aspect of any social network. Many people view the Facebook vs. Google+ debate as openness vs. privacy. In my opinion, it’s more about ‘privacy done wrong’ vs. ‘privacy done right’.

Privacy Policies

Facebook has more than 750 million users. But how many of them have ever read the Facebook privacy policy? I would be surprised if the number even reaches one million. And there’s good reason why most people don’t care about it – its way too long at nearly 6,000 words.

In contrast, Google+ privacy policy is as simple as it gets slightly more than 1,000 words with a no non-sense approach. The ‘Acceptable Behavior’ section is equally crisp and well defined. However, if you read the fine print, the policy mentions that Google will record…

“record information about your activity — such as posts you comment on and the other users with whom you interact — in order to provide you and other users with a better experience on Google services” 

In my opinion, that’s pretty open ended and considering Google’s past legal tussles over privacy, the search giant would be well advised to clear the air sooner than later.


As a marketing veteran, I have to admit that Google+ has managed to hit Facebook where it’s hurts the most – closed user groups. Several social media experts warned that Facebook will sooner or later need to introduce the concept of closed user groups. Though Facebook provides fairly elaborate privacy controls, I strongly believe they are still too sophisticated and need to be simplified.

In contrast, the concept of circles is intuitive. You instantaneously know what information is available to whom.


Google says Google+ will be ad-free, at least for now. In contrast, businesses on Facebook thrive because of advertising. From a consumer perspective, there’s no one size fits all rule. Some users see it as a convenience when they see ads related to their preferences. In contrast, others see it as an invasion of privacy.


Google claims Facebook follows a walled garden approach to privacy. In contrast, Google+ is a social media layering on top of Google’s online infrastructure that includes mail, chat, video and several other value additions.

Do you think the simplified privacy controls in Google+ will hurt Facebook? Is it high time for Facebook to launch closed user groups? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment.

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