Google Launches New Social Networking Site

Google’s new social network, “Google+” premiered today to much fanfare in the media, and rightly so. The service launched to a limited number of users today in what Google is calling a “field trial.” A few PCWorld staffers were lucky enough to be invited to try out the service (it’ll roll out to everybody in the coming months), so naturally we got right to testing the new service.

In general we thought the service borrowed some good ideas from the reigning king of social networks, Facebook, but also offers some cool new approaches to sharing content and managing privacy. In short, Google+ is a solid start to an insurgent social networking platform that is sure to be enhanced rapidly over the coming months, and could soon offer a solid alternative to Facebook. Now, let’s dig in.

Getting Started

Google+ has an easy set-up with almost no learning curve, especially if you’re familiar with Facebook. If you’ve used any Google products before, you might be surprised at how much of that information gets automatically imported to your new Google+ account, to use in a social context. For example, I’ve uploaded pictures to Picasa without allowing others to view them. Google+ first asked me to select a profile picture from my Picasa Albums, and then gave me a choice: Either link my Google+ account with Picasa, or don’t join Google+ at all.

I decided to link. It didn’t actually change the privacy settings of my Picasa albums (it didn’t make them public to my friends or anything). But having the choice made me wonder what the implications of having my Picasa albums linked to Google+ really were.

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