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Google+ 101: A Quick Introduction to Google's Social Network


Google+ wordmark
Google Inc./https://plus.google.com/Public Domain

What is Google+?:

Google+ is the official social networking platform of Google, one of the world's largest and most popular search engines. Google+ officially debuted in June 2011 and is intended to pull all of Google's peripheral products (Gmail, Google Maps, search, Google Calendar, etc.) into one cohesive network, meant to be as open and as connected as possible, incorporating everything that searchers use at Google into a comprehensive social and content dashboard.



In order to use Google+ efficiently, you'll need to understand a few of the Google+ terms: Circles, Stream, Hangouts, the Google+ toolbar, Profiles, +1's, and Sparks.

Google+ Circles refer to the way you organize your social contacts. You might have one circle for family, one for work colleagues, and one for your favorite hobby. How you choose to interact with these circles is completely up to you, and you can share different content with different groups. You can also choose to have your personal profile information show differently to different groups.



The Google+ Stream is similar to the Facebook news feed in that it's meant to be one centralized dashboard for all content shared by the people you've made connections with on Google+. Information found in the Stream could include text, images, videos, links, and maps.

Tool Bar:

In order to provide you with a personalized experience across all of their services, Google requires that you sign in with a free Google account. Once you are signed into Google, you'll see the Google+ bar appearing across the top of any Google service you might be using, and can access any Google service from this toolbar as well, including Google+.

Hangouts and Chat:

Google+ Hangouts are meant to be live social networking, connecting with people who are online right this minute via instant messaging, live video chat, or group conversations.

Google+ Chat gives you the opportunity to communicate directly and instantly with people you've already initiated chatting privileges with from other Google services. The people in your Google+ Circles can be invited (or not) to your chat session as well.



Sparks are simply your particular areas of interest, chosen and edited by you for relevance. Google+ presents a variety of possible Sparks you might be interested in, and you can add or subtract to these topics as you see fit. You can share your favorite Sparks with people in your Circles, or investigate the Spark further by drilling down into the content that generated the initial Spark.


Google Profiles are your public and personal presentation to the world on all Google services, including Google+. It's up to you how much information you choose to share publicly on your Google Profile; by default, your full name and gender are visible to the general public.


Google+ is available on several different Web-enabled mobile devices, and can be used in the same way that Google+ is utilized on a desktop computer. For more information on how to access Google+ for your phone, read Google+ Mobile Help.



  • The names of the Circles that people are involved in are not publicly shared, but content can be seen by people who are not necessarily in the intended Circle.
  • An item shared in your Stream can potentially open up originally private content.
  • Your Google Profile can be displayed publicly as part of someone else's network.
  • Your email address can be seen on other services' chat lists than Google+.

Most privacy concerns people might have with Google+ seem to come with simple fixes; however, it's best to be cautious when sharing information across a public network.


A New Social Network:

Google+ is Google's social network, meant to be a dynamic convergence of all of Google's many services in one collaborative, intelligent, open network. Google+ works similarly to other social networks, but with a few important differences and terminology.

  • Circles allow you to group your contacts into intuitive groupings, based on relationship.
  • Hangouts: Instant conversations via video and chat, both with groups and individuals.
  • Photos: Use Google+ to share your favorite photos and on-the-go images.
  • Sparks: Topics of interest, chosen and edited by you, that you can explore and share.
  • Huddle: Collaborative group chat with multiple people on the same page at the same time.

Simply put, Google+ aims to make sharing experiences, content, and connections as easily and intuitively as possible. Join About Web Search on Google+: Find us on Google+.


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