Google has announced today that it is shutting down the Google Plus social network for consumers.
The platform has been popular for OpenSim users to share news about the hypergrid.Â OpenSim VirtualÂ has more than 2,000 subscribed members and there are many other communities serving different cross-grid communities as well as individual grids.
Google said it will shut down the services over the course of the next ten months, meaning that users will need to find new virtual homes by end of next August at the latest.
According to Google, the move was due to a combination of low usage and a security breach.
“The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds,” the company said.
The security breach was a bug that potentially gave developers access to personal profile information of more than half a million user accounts, though Google said it sound no evidence that any developers had abused the bug.
However, while doing this security review, Google decided that keeping the social network going was too much work.
“Â The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumersâ€™ expectations,” the company said. “Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+.”
One reason Google Plus was popular with the OpenSim community was that Facebook has a “real name” policy. Many people prefer to communicate about in-world events using their avatar names, instead.
Google Plus was also very user friendly, allowing people to share announcements with friends very easily.
Without Google Plus, the OpenSim community will be left without a viable social networking platform. Some people will be able to set up Facebook accounts under their avatar names, and hope Facebook doesn’t notice, or use their real names to communicate with other users.
Pinterest might be an alternative, if a couple of the biggest Google Plus groups move to Pinterest, and develop a critical mass that brings more groups over.
Attempts to set up brand new avatar-friendly social networks have, so far, fallen flat due to the critical mass problem. Most social users are already on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest and would rather not join a single-purpose network that they then have to keep track of, and that doesn’t have a mobile app.
Community organizers — what do you plan to do?