BHS students testing Google Plus waters

By Jessica Froula Remember the good old days when Google was just a proper noun to describe a search engine? “Just Google it” has since become part of daily vocabulary among internet users. Now, there is a new competitor for Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr alike—Google Plus. Launched in June, this site is more exclusive than most other social networking sites out there; users must be 18 years old and need to be invited to gain access. In addition, Google Plus users are required to have a g-mail account to log on. Although many students have not yet heard of Google Plus, it seems to be a growing trend on the World Wide Web. Part of its attraction is that Google Plus offers accessories that do not exist or are less convenient on other social sites such as free group video chatting (Hangouts), “circles” of friends that can be arranged in categories, and group texting (Huddle). “It’s pretty awesome,” Bearden senior Andrew Stripling said. “And it feels a lot more advanced than Facebook.” Other primary features include Sparks, which is comparable to Stumbleupon, games, and an instant photo upload option for smartphone users. The biggest thing that differentiates it from other websites is the lack of advertisements all over the computer screen. “I think it’s a legitimate competitor (for Facebook and Twitter),” BHS senior Tor Vorhees said. “I don’t think it’s better in any way, but it is more seamless.” Those who have never heard of Google Plus or do not have an account will find that many similarities exist between it and other social networks. There is still a “News Feed”, though it is called a “Stream”, and users can still have status updates, photos, and as many friends as they desire to send out invitations to. On the other hand, some people simply still find Facebook to have everything that is necessary in a social networking site. In addition, since Facebook and Twitter have been around so much longer, people are more used to the way they function. Frequent Facebook user and Bearden senior Melissa King also has a Google Plus account and claims that Facebook is “easier to understand” but thinks Google Plus still has “fascinating things to offer.” Once this exclusive Web site has been around a few months longer, people may begin to catch on. Time will tell if Google Plus will continue to grow and if internet users will take the time to learn the ropes for this new way to socialize online.