by DANIELLE OSTRAGER
The latest in social networking sites, Google+, opened to the public in September of 2011.
Google+ originated as an invitation-only alternative to Facebook in July of 2011. Google+ took the same approach as Facebook did as an exclusive social networking site. However, due to popular demand, Google ultimately decided to allow Google+ to go public.
Although the site is open to the general public, it is not open to just anyone. Users must be 18+ or the networking site is off limits. Date of birth is required when registering for a Google account. If the user inputs an incorrect birthdate, a copy of his or her birth certificate must be sent to Google to confirm the change in birthdate. This leaves one of the larger user bases—high school students—out of the loop.
Some teens managed to bypass this restriction by simply inputting a different date of birth at registration.
Senior Allie Houlihan says, “I was never a Facebook user, but I really like Google+. I’m having fun exploring it and figuring it out.”
This age requirement not only restricts younger users from Google+, but also from “mature rated” sites. Google is currently considering opening Google+ to users 13 and up, like Facebook.
Aside from the age restrictions, many users are hesitant to start using Google+. Senior Jennifer Merino says, “If more of my friends were on Google+ I’d consider using it, but I’ve barely even heard of it right now. It needs to make a name for itself first.”
Many of the features are similar to Facebook—a basic profile, pictures, chat, etc; however, Google+ adds many new features. One of the newer features is the “hang out feature.” Users may enter a “hang out” with a circle of friends. They enter a chat room alone and then anyone from that circle may enter the chat room—and leave at will. Up to nine people may enter a “hang out.”
Google+ has a wide variety of features like the game room, instant uploading, and mobile messaging. Another feature, the search bar, searches not only the web, but the statuses, updates and uploads of users within circles. Similar to Facebook’s News Feed, Google+ features a “stream” that includes all updates people within a user’s circle have shared with them, as well as users who are trying to share with them.
Google+ could become the new Facebook, but until it is open to users 13 and up, teenagers must stick to Facebook as a main social networking source.