Skip to main content

2018 Year in Review: Consumer Google+ heading for a shutdown

Google+ started off 2018 on a roll.  Both the Android and iOS were updated to try to bring feature parity between the different platforms, including bulk moderation tools for communities and the ability to delete, report and block spammers in a single step. The Android app was completely rewritten to use Google's latest app infrastructure.

There were also new feature updates across platforms, including the ability to subscribe to Highlight notifications for Communities and Collections.

Many of the new features were aimed at business users, such a dedicated button to add a file from Google Drive when composing a new post, easy embedding of Google+ Community, Collection and Profile streams on Google Sites websites, and the ability to bulk add and manage members of G Suite domain-restricted Communities using Google Groups email lists.

And the process of disconnecting Google+ from other Google services - started in earnest in 2015 - continued. Google My Business deleted "dormant" Local Pages and YouTube finally stopped supporting filtering of comments using Google+ Circles.

Even so, it came as a surprise when Google announced that because of low usage and the difficulty in "creating and maintaining a Google+ that meets consumer expectations" they would be sunsetting Google+ for consumers in August 2019.

There was a bit of a bright side. Google+ would be living on for Enterprise customers as a platform to "help drive collaboration."  Google announced some neat-looking new features under development, including the ability to follow Tags and the creation of custom Streams.

Google+ didn’t provide any details at the time, but promised they would “provide more details right here on Google+ about how to export and save your personal content soon”.  And as the original announcement stated:
To give people a full opportunity to transition, we will implement this wind-down over a 10-month period [...]
Unfortunately those additional details haven't materialized yet, and in the first part of December Google made another unexpected announcement:
We’ve recently determined that some users were impacted by a software update introduced in November that contained a bug affecting a Google+ API. [...] No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.
With the discovery of this new bug, we have decided to expedite the shut-down of all Google+ APIs; this will occur within the next 90 days. In addition, we have also decided to accelerate the sunsetting of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019. While we recognize there are implications for developers, we want to ensure the protection of our users.
The Google+ API will be shut down by March 7th, with “intermittent outages” starting January 28th. That means that developers who used the Google+ API need to get moving to remove Google+ sign-in or other Google+ features from their mobile apps and websites.

Even if you are not a developer, you need be aware that web “plugins” like Google+ badges, +1 and share buttons, and embedded Google+ posts will be going away as well. As those changes could affect the layout of your website or blog, it’s time to remove that code from your site.

Even with the shutdown of consumer Google+ pushed forward 4 months, Google+ has still not provided any additional information about how the sunsetting process will work exactly, and other Google products with Google+ integration, like Blogger and Hangouts haven’t provided any updates. I am expecting that additional information will be provided imminently.

You can download an archive of your Google+ posts, photos, activity logs and other data using Google Takeout ( I’m hoping there will be some improvements to the process in the next few months, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to create an archive now. You can always create a new archive if there are future improvements.

Take a look back: 2017 Year in Review: Google+ comes into is own

Get all creator updates for 2018: Google+, YouTube, Blogger, AdSense, Hangouts and more

What about moving to a different platform? 

Google+ has not offered any options for moving your content to another platform. You can download an archive of all your Google+ data using Google Takeout, but there isn't any practical way to import the archive on another platform.

Someday, data may be more portable. GoogleFacebookTwitter and Microsoft announced in July that they are actually working together on the open source Data Transfer Project, meant to develop tools so that users can easily transfer their data from one service to another. But it's still early days, and that isn't going to provide Plussers any new options.

I am hoping that Google does manage to implement some improvements in the Google Takeout archive files in the coming weeks. But there isn't much time left for change to be made.

There are tools being created by third party developers that are worth looking at:
There are also a few Google+ Communities where Plussers are discussing their options. See the Google+ Mass Migration Community and Lights out Google+.

And if you're looking for a trip down memory lane, find your first Google+ post using Advanced search operators or using Google Takeout (with an archive of all your posts). (My first post)

I plan to be around on Google+ until the end, but I'll be posting more content directly here on my blog. I'm also on YouTube and Twitter. I've been lurking on other social sites like MeWe and Pluspora, but I haven't decided where - and if - I'll start actively posting elsewhere.

2018 Google+ Tutorials

2018 Google+ Update Timeline