Google is refusing to let Google+ die.
The vast majority of the social network’s users have long-since abandoned it — but the Californian tech giant is continuing to modify and update the platform.
In a blog post published Tuesday, Google+ product manager Danielle Buckley announced three coming changes.
It is going to automatically hide “low quality” comments (read: spam and nonsense) on photos and posts; it is adjusting its layout to prioritise photos and posts and show less white space; and it is re-introducing the ability to create events you can invite people to and join (much like on Facebook), after previously removing the feature.
Google+ is also killing off its “classic” mode on the web for good, after a redesign in November 2015 changed the focus to be on collections and communities (but left an option to switch back to the classic view).
Google launched Google+ back in 2011 as a Facebook competitor — and its announcement reportedly spooked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg into declaring a “lockdown” as the social network figured out how to respond.
But it never really caught on, with an analysis in January 2015 estimating that just 4-6 million people actively engaged, posted, and interacted on the social network, despite its 2.2 billion registered profiles. (Google forced everyone who used its services to have a Google+ account, rapidly inflating its nominal userbase.)
Google has also moved to uncouple the digital ghost town from its other apps and services. Since 2015, it has no longer been necessary to have a Google+ account to comment on YouTube videos — a previous requirement.
“Just because we’re bidding adieu to classic Google+ doesn’t mean we’re done working on the new one,” Buckley wrote in the blog post. “Our aim is to make Google+ the best place to connect around the things you care about, so please use the ‘Send Feedback’ link in the apps and on the web to keep the feedback coming. We’re listening.”
It’s not clear how many active users Google+ has today, and a Google spokesperson declined to comment. In the battle between social networks and messaging platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, it isn’t considered a significant player.
But Tuesday’s announcement suggests Google hasn’t given up on the service yet.