Google+’s Latest Desperate Moves to Gain Relevance in Social Media

Posted on February 16, 2012 • Written by Ben Smith

By Todd Atkins

Spam in Google+ Stream

Google recently began rolling out spam into your Google+ stream. They call it “Hot on Google+”. It’s almost always poor quality garbage content, not relevant to you, from someone you don’t know, and you didn’t ask for it. It’s spam. This isn’t entirely new, they’ve been adding spam into your Google+ stream for a while now. It was easy enough to block it with the Adblock plugin using the hide a section of a webpage feature. However, I guess Google caught on to that little trick and now assigns a unique identifier to each piece of spam in your Google+ stream.

How to Rid Your Google+ Stream from “What’s Hot” Spam

For a while I was just reporting Google’s spam as spam. Maybe it was a bit childish and maybe if enough people did it, they would catch on to the passive aggressive hint. Then I found a setting to remove it completely. It’s easy enough to find and change once you know where it is.

Look for the question mark icon in line with “Hot on Google+” in your stream. Then hover your mouse over the question mark and click on the “What’s Hot” link.

This will bring you to the “What’s Hot” settings and features a little control slider to adjust how much spam you want in your Google+ stream. There are four levels of spam to choose from and mercifully, the lowest setting is “show nothing from what’s hot in your stream.”

I’m guessing the idea behind the “Hot on Google+” spam is to get you to check Google+ more often. I have about 18 circles with a dozen people in each. I’m connected to roughly 200 people on Google+. I see a new post in my stream about once a month on average. I never bother checking it. I’m guessing it’s the same for most people. It’s like the a new bar on the far edge of town that might have good a good happy hour, but no one goes there because there’s nothing else to do.

I think Google’s choice to add spam to Google+ stream will ultimately backfire. For a company that prides iteself on providing people with the most relevant information, this is an ugly scar on their image. I could forgive them if they started putting advertisements into your stream. Google+ is a free service, ads are almost expected. But forcing you to wade through garbage to see what your friends are up to? Really? At minimum, the “Hot on Google+” spam should only show content that is relevant to you in some way. Maybe show how there is 3 degrees of separation between me and the person posting. Or how about showing me stuff that might actually be interesting to me? Instead we’re back in 1985 with an inbox full of chain mail forwards. We get crap like the non-sensical garbage from Angela McBain above. I’m sure she’s a nice person, but I really don’t care because I don’t know her. The whole reason why social networking and sharing works is because you know the person (hence “social”).

Floating login and account info


A few days ago I began noticing what appeared to be a CSS layout flaw on Google’s homepage. It turns out it’s no flaw, it’s their latest despearate (and sad) attempt to get people to use the utter failure social media network known as Google+.

Over the last few months, Google has slowly rolled out a new navigation bar and new UIs for many of their products. If you use any of Google’s products on a regular basis, you’ll probably notice that personal account information is no longer neatly inside the black navigation bar. It also has a new “+ Share” shortcut call to action. It is now floating in the middle of nowhere, aimlessly adrift. It’s messy, ugly, and sloppy. Like the new Gmail interface, Facebook’s timeline, and Justin Bieber, it is an assault on everyone’s sensibilities and knowledge of what is right in the world.

Possible Reasons

This is all speculative of course.

  1. It’s a coding mistake and is supposed to be back home in the nav bar.
  2. It’s purposely made to look like a coding mistake to get noticed and used.
  3. The designers at Google actually thought this was a good idea.

If it’s #1, someone’s head is going to roll. If it’s #3, it is here to stay as much as it makes me want to stab out my eyes. Ok, perhaps that is a bit over-reactive. It’s not like it’s a tragedy on the scale something like Darfur. If it’s #2, this is a really sad day for Google. Everyone knows it, but nobody wants to talk about it. Google+ is a ghost town. There is no reason to check it because no one uses it. There is no reason to post something there because no one will ever see it.

Face it Google, you tried to wage war on Facebook and you failed.

Ben Smith

Written by Ben Smith

Ben Smith is a Researcher at Fruition, specializing in Google's Algorithm changes. Ben is a graduate of the University of Denver’s Mathematics program, and he enjoys learning about Google’s search algorithm updates. He's a vital asset of the Fruition team, and he one day hopes to publish a book. In his free time, you can find Ben enjoying the outdoors of Colorado.

Related Articles:

View All Blog Articles

From our team & partners