When Spinal Tap’s manager was asked whether the band was less popular because it wasn’t selling out large venues any more, he replied that the band was just as popular but that its appeal had simply “become more selective.” Google is apparently angling for something similar with its spin on Google+ engagement, as Google vice president of product Bradley Horowitz told The Guardian on Wednesday that Google actually wants there to be more friction that slows down users’ sharing over the social network.
“Friction can be a very good thing. We’ve introduced quite a bit of friction on our system,” he said, referring to the fact that users have to specify which circles they want to share with before posting something. “That moment of pause gives people the security of ensuring that their privacy isn’t violated. We think that’s the trade-off people want: considered, thoughtful and authentic, as opposed to everything shown to the least common denominator of ‘public.’ “
A study published by RJ Metrics earlier this year found that most public Google+ posts received less than one “+1” and less than one comment, meaning most posts on the social network simply appear and are ignored. Google at the time argued that the study was flawed because it only tracked “engagement on public posts,” which is significant because “more sharing occurs privately to circles and individuals than publicly on Google+.”