Google Plus was founded just over six years ago (June 2011) and I was one of the first to join the platform in the first few days. I remember those days well, it took a bit of time to find anything or anyone to interact with. But as time went on, the community began to grow and grow in a vibrant way. Within a year I had a great circle of online friends who shared a common interest with me. I also found new friends who introduced me to new interests and experiences, it was a great time of growth for Google Plus then.
Fast forward four years (2015) and you’ll find a different story. Tech outlets began claiming that Google Plus is dead and that Google had no interest in continuing their social media network. Being a Plus user since the start, I refused to agree with the sentiment that Google was leaving the service to die. I joined many on the platform who disagreed with the mainstream tech blogs in their claims of a Google Plus demise. I also disagreed with many Plus users who happened to agree with those outlets and started leaving themselves.
Fast forward to the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 and I found a different story. Around this time the influx of spam bots and fake accounts was mind-numbing. adult spam, marketing spam, trolls, and other unwanted characters were infiltrating Google Plus in great numbers. Some users were seeing this activity more than others and some of us saw it on an hourly basis.
I also noticed many more Plus users I had been friends with disappearing from the platform. Engagement fell in a dramatic way and the vibrant conversation was being replaced with adult spam, marketing spam, and trolls. Still, I held hope for the platform and continued to use it to engage an ever-shrinking circle of great followers I have on Google Plus. Mid-2017 is when I started to really agree with what the tech press was saying in 2015, Google Plus was indeed dying.
Fast forward to CES 2018. Throughout CES I posted articles and updates about CES in which most of those post got little engagement from my audience but attracted adult spam bots and trolls like flies. I ended up just deleting some of those posts because there were literally 20 adult spam comments on them. For those who don’t know, CES is a busy time and I didn’t have time to go through and delete and report these comments. The easier method was to delete the whole post.
This was very frustrating, to say the least, and it wasn’t the first time. The adult spam had gotten to be such an issue around August 2017 I finally decided to write about it in November. That article gained some traction and also some eyeballs and Google promised they were working on a fix to these issues myself and many others were facing. Once again, I was willing to give Google the benefit of the doubt and continued on deleting, reporting, and blocking. While they did add a method to report, delete, and block comments in one step for desktop users, it’s still a pain on mobile to do so and while a first step, not nearly enough of one.
Back to CES 2018. Scrolling through more notifications, 90% of them being more adult spam, I opened up one of them expecting to have to delete yet another adult link. Instead, I was faced with a comment that said, “I hate the fact that you’re alive. Kill yourself.” Now, this isn’t the first comment like this I’ve gotten. I have literally gotten dozens of comments telling me how hated I am and that I no longer deserve the breath of life. In the past, I’ve simply deleted them and moved on.
This one hit me though. Not because it scared me or made me want to run off to some “safe-space,” it hit me because I finally hit a breaking point where Google Plus was becoming a job. Spending more time reporting, deleting, and blocking spammers and trolls than spending time engaging good followers is a job I do not want. So I made one last post on Google Plus yesterday simply stating I am done. I went through and deleted most all of my collections, including the one where I shared much of my family life.
I’m sure there are plenty of Plus users conversating over my choice to leave. Some are probably scoffing at my leaving and insisting that Google Plus is just the best place on earth, and that’s fine. I remember doing the same thing when others left the platform years ago. Believe me or not, the final straw is this: I don’t believe a social network should become a job nor should I need to police the comments section of my posts for adult content and trolls. It is because of the added chore of dealing with what Google should be dealing with is why Google Plus is dead to me.
With that said, don’t kid yourself and try and make me out as ignorant. I fully understand that Google Plus isn’t the only place with trolls and spam, however, the current volume is frustratingly time-consuming to keep up with. Twitter, Facebook, and every other place have their fair share and Google Plus has joined them it that regard. There was a very small circle of great followers on the Plus that kept me there. I enjoyed their company and conversation but even that small circle is shrinking and being overrun by adult content, spam, and trolls.
For now, making Google Plus a full-time job is out of the question. Until Google can reign in the issue of bots, trolls, and low-quality profiles… I am stepping back. I’ll probably post to Twitter the oddball comment or share but I don’t expect Twitter to be what Google Plus was once and I hope Google Plus can once again be what it was.