Over the past few weeks, Google+ has exploded as a new social web platform. We had friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter. Now there are Circles on Google+.
What does this mean from a compliance perspective?
Not much for right now. Google+ does not seem to present any new issues that we haven’t already seen in social media. My general impression is that it’s a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. This is both in terms of privacy and the way communications flow.
I expect there will be a few hiccups with the privacy settings as we have already seen with Facebook. The use of “circles” allows you limit who can see your communications. But since anyone in that circle can then share it with people in their circle, any message can easily become public. If you want to keep you message a bit more private, there is a button that can check to prevent sharing.
To the extent you have a social media or communications policy you should make sure it takes into account Google+. To the extent you need to archive and preserve messages, you will need to take Google+ into account. Hopefully Smarsh and the other vendors will get access to the API so they can find a way to preserve the messages.
If you block access to social networking sites, Google+ is a little trickier to deal with. It looks like it operates as a subdomain on Google.com. I don’t think too many c0mpanies want to block access to Google.com. Your blocking software will need to make sure it only limits the plus.google.com subdomain. And it’s https:, not http:.
Will Google+ live long enough to be a concern for compliance? Maybe. I have a hard time believing people will use Facebook, Twitter and Google+. I suspect that Google+ will need to take users away from Facebook and Twitter to be successful.
I don’t suspect it will cause many people to abandon Facebook. Google+ is slicker, but Facebook has the bigger user base. As Andrew McAfee once told me, the new tool can’t just be a little better, it has to be many times better for people to switch. I don’t find Google+ to be that much better than Facebook. Most importantly for me, Facebook has the largest collection of close friends and family. (My “Family” circle on Google+ is empty, my “Friends” only has a few handfuls of people, and my “compliance” circle has a single person.)
Twitter is the most likely victim of Google+. It removes the 140 character shackle and threads conversations together. Twitter still has better integration with other platforms. On the other hand, there is the possibility that Google+ could tie together many of Google’s other platforms.
It will be hard to kill Twitter. All of the news coverage about placing the valuation of Twitter in the billions of dollars are tied to Twitter’s latest round of raising money from investors. I would guess that the company is sitting on a big pile cash that will take a long time to burn through, leaving them plenty of cash to improve the product and find ways to generate revenue.
Google+ will cause more compliance headaches. For now, it doesn’t appear to create any new headaches.