Google Plus: Can Google's new social network topple Facebook?

When Facebook first launched in the mid naughties, the cyber landscape underwent a seizmic change. It was the most disruptive digital venture to hit the web since Google revolutioned search.

Since then, there have been a number of other great strides in social: LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr all have significant social footprints.

As with all sectors, as they bulge and spread, users/consumers/customers become more sophisticated. We are fussier than ever before. We want privacy. We want access to our data. We want full control of our online reputation and presence. We want integration.

Over the past two years, Facebook has become increasingly draconian in its treatment of users. The back end small print changes incessantly with no warning and little explanation. Facebook walls are littered with advice on how to block ad agencies from sucking up your data, tips on closing the privacy loopholes that allow your vital statistics to seep out across the net.

It is against a backdrop of increased Facebook frustration that Google launches its latest opus. Google+ is a social network that aims to give power back to the people. Simple, secure functionality allows you to create 'Circles', groups of people that have different levels of access to your account. But unlike the dreaded 'Limited Profile' on Facebook (if you can't see someone's photos, wall or videos, chances are you've been downgraded to this uneviable state), your contacts won't know whether they are inner circle or outer limit.

But Google's most radical move, the real curve ball in this new social concept, is that your data is your own to keep, hide, share or customise as you choose.

In the walkthrough video (posted below), the soft-spoken narrator informs you that you can delete your account whenever you choose and remove all traces of its existence. But - and here's the hook - you can download all your data (photos, contacts, video and messages) first.

How unusual, in a launch video, to tote the benefits of being able to axe your account. This is the climate that Zuckerberg has created with Facebook, a digital biodome that has taken social synergy to almost oppressive lengths.

All hail Google+. I'll lead the stampede if this new stab at social hits the mark.

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