FAQ

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Frequently asked, anticipated, and answered questions.


Contents

Meta

Q: What is this?

A: A Wiki to help individuals, informal, and formal communities moving off of Google's Google+ social network and re-establishing themselves elsewhere.

Q: Why is this happening?

A: Google will be sunsetting (shutting down) the public Google+ website at the end of April, 2019. The stated concern is privacy and security requirements for the service.

Q: April? I thought the shutdown was in August, 2019?

A: Google moved the date forward by four months, on 10 December, 2018, stating they'd found further security issues with the site.

Q: When was this originally announced?

A: October 8, 2018, announced in the Google Blog post "Project Strobe: Protecting your data, improving our third-party APIs, and sunsetting consumer Google+:

Finding 1: There are significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ product that meets consumers’ expectations.

Action 1: We are shutting down Google+ for consumers.

This announcement was further updated on 10 December 2018 as noted in the preceding FAQ.

Q: Will Google+ be publicly readable after April 2019?

A: There's no clear answer as of 10 December 2018.

It's almost certainly true that private content on Google+ will no longer be available via the Web even to those who presently have access to it: Collections, Communities, Posts, their associated elements, and possibly other aspects of Google+.

Appeals

Q: Is there a petition to keep G+ open?

A: Yes, several. Don't Shut Down Google+ appears among the larger, with over 33,000 signatures as of 26 November 2018.

Q: Do you think it will work?

A: No.

Google have reversed themselves on some technical features and releases over the years. We're unaware that they've ever reversed a product kill decision. And they've had plenty of opportunity to do so.

Q: Is there any way to continue using Google+ after the sunset?

A: Google are claiming they'll continue offering an enterprise / corporate product, as a paid service, which may present an option.

This will be part of Google's G Suite brand with per-user per-month pricing tiers of $5, $10, and $25 (annually $60, $120, and $300), for Basic, Business, and Enterprise tiers, all in US dollars.

Qualified registered non-profit / NGO organisations may be eligible for free usage at the Basic level.

Or you could apply to work for Google.

Q: Can a public G+ user profile be converted to an Enterprise profile?

A: Not so far as we're aware, from Google Top Contributor John Skeats.

Those looking at converting use, particularly of Communities, to G Suite will likely face other obstacles. There is no present path for converting profiles or communities from Public to G Suite, nor can content be imported to Google+. So a Public to G Suite conversion would effectively be starting fresh with both profiles, communities, and content.

This is of course subject to change by Google, though as with many other topics, Google have not offered any substantive commentary on support or capabilities other than moving forward the sunset date by four months, as of 11 December 2018.

There are claims that a converted "community would remain accessible to non-[G Suite domain] users. 'It's just the ownership that will change' (i.e., existing users would not need new identities and old data would be preserved)." We are unaware of a public Google statement to this effect.

Google Products and Services

Q: Are other Google services, such as Gmail, affected by this shutdown?

A: To the limited extent we understand Google Product offerings, the logic by which they are interrelated, and the frequency with which they are sent to their death in gladiatorial combat: NO.

Q: I run a Google+ community, how do I migrate that?

A: There isn't a straighforward answer to this, though you should consider:

  • Your members also face a migration that they must do, or abandon their account and relationships. Essentially you're facing two migrations then, those of your users, and your Community infrastructure, relationships, contacts, content, collateral, etc.
  • Where your Community goes may influence their decision(s).
  • You may choose to separate the community from any one social platform.
  • Decide what assets you do and do not wish to keep.
  • Ask Google what Community-related data export features are, or can be made available. There is no "export community" function at G+ we're aware of. Requesting this might produce something from Google, though you should consider that long odds.
  • Consider your goals and endpoint, work back from there.
  • Communicate as early and clearly with your members as you can. G+ Community management tools are limited at best, and an off-site option, or even a Wiki, may prove invaluable.

We will gather more information in Migrating Google+ Communities. As of 21 October 2018, as best we understand:

  • Google+ Community metadata including descriptions and contacts, are exportable, by the community owner.
  • Google+ Community posts as a whole (with or without comments) are not exportable by anyone.
  • Your own Google+ Community posts (along with comments) and comments are exportable, by you.

All of the above apply to making use of Google Data Takeout.

Information has not been verified and is subject to change.

Q: Do you know how I can contact Google for support or questions?

A: This seems to be Google's Blog and Social Directory, you might try finding your product contact there.


The Exodus

Q: Where will the Google+ users be moving to?

A: That hasn't been decided yet, at least not as a whole. That's the purpose of this Wiki and project.

On an individual level, there are many options to choose from and some Established G+ Diaspora Communities. Also see Where can I get in touch with / stay in touch with people?.

Q: When will it be decided?

A: Given the 10-month six month window and some logistical elements, individual and group commitments are likely to be made by early January, 2019, if not sooner.

Q: What do you mean by "commitments"? What authority do you have?

A: The commitments refer to the individuals and/or groups who hope to move together. They will be committing (and we are among them). The hope is to facilitate gathering information on available options and procedures for moving, by that time. Some may commit earlier, some later. We have no authority other than as information sources, hopefully credible, known to the community.

Q: What are the options?

A: A range of existing services, websites, platforms, or collections of same.

The space is interesting, and the range of what might be considered social media is broad. Obvious contenders include major commercial services, including those such as Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit. Others see opportunities in Free Software and Federated systems. There are several recently-developed or smaller services, and several new commercially and non-commercially organised sites, as well as new protocols and collaborative platforms. It's an exciting time to be alive. There are strong advocates, and opponents, to almost all of these choices. And there's the possibility that people will retreat to a simple homespun offline existence, which has its attractions. Social media and the Internet have presented some interesting challenges, disappointments, and dangers, as has become apparent in recent years.

Q: Are there risks involved?

A: Yes, many. We're working on that in a Risks and Threat Models section.

These are the usual: data, hardware, financial, copyright, abuse, harassment, malware, vandalism, burnout, propaganda, disinformation / misinformation, technical debt, fascism / demagoguery, groupthink, surveillance, data harvesting, admin betrayal, sellout, plague, famine, pestilence, divine fire, etc., etc.

Q: Self-hosted or volunteer servers are among the options you're considering?

A: Yes.

Q: Who will pay for that?

A: This is one of many questions we're assessing. For some options per user costs appear to be low, though in aggregate, they add up. One option for a self-hosted federated server seems to run about $25/month for about 1,000 users. The per-user per-year rate may be about $0.25, in hosting costs, though there may be other expenses involved. The irony is that the costs are so low that charging individually is not particularly economical, the modern version of "too cheap to meter". This doesn't mean that the costs of larger servers are insignificant.

Q: Would self-hosting from a home be possible?

A: Perhaps. The physical computing needs should be modest, but other factors including choosing platforms, hardware, set-up, administration, security, connectivity (and interruptions), privacy, and security need to be considered. This should be viable for some users though likely not all. The question is likely to be if it's a matter of few, many, or most. If users share servers or provide services to others, further questions arise, mostly over resolving and addressing control, disagreements, and liabilities. These are among the risk concerns.

Q: Commercial and/or proprietary services are also being considered?

A: Yes.

We expect people and organisations will adopt a range of platforms, from major leading contenders (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and even various Google services), to new or less-familiar offerings.

Q: Who will pay for that?

A: Also an open question, though advertising, subscription business models, and numerous other business models, some more likely than others, exist.

Q: Are there risks involved with proprietary services?

A: Absolutely. Some are widely recognised, some less so. Surveillance capitalism, state and non-state surveillance, business continuity, product cancellation (as we're facing presently), data loss, buggy software, malware, and more. Life is risk. More below.

Personal action

Q: What should I do?

A: That depends on what your goals are. So, for starters, consider your goals, and then how to get there. Often working backwards is a useful exercise. Collecting contact information, making use of Google Data Take-Out (earlier rather than later), and exploring options should be useful. We're putting together a Recommended Practices page.

Q: How can I help?

A: There are numerous tasks and roles. Initially, gathering information, exploring opportunities, and building an infrastructure to remain in touch is useful. This Wiki serves a role in that and can use help. There is an Exodus Task List.

Q: Where can I get in touch with / stay in touch with people?

A: There is a list of Established_G+_Diaspora_Communities. Also check out the Recommended Practices to find your contacts on other platforms. Generally the hashtags #googleplus or #gplusrefugee should help locate others, on platforms supporting them.

Points of Contact

Q: Is there a Google+ Community for information and discussion?

A: Yes, Google+ Mass Migration, among others, which are listed in the "Other Exodus Communties" section.

Q: Is there a Facebook / Twitter group or hashtag?

A: Not that we're presently aware.

Q: Is there a subreddit?

A: /r/PLExodus is specifically a Google+ Exodus information hub on Reddit, set up by Dredmorbius

There are also /r/GooglePlusRefugees, a general discussion forum, /r/googleplus, specifically about Google+, though not the Exodus, and the yet more general /r/Google.

Q: I've heard <thing> about <site, service, platform, or company>, is it true?

A: There's a lot being said or claimed right now, some accurate, some inaccurate, some uninformed, some simply made up. Crises breed rumour. Multiple parties are positioning themselves for advantage or even simply to sow further chaos.

Carefully assess and evaluate the validity of any information you receive, including that you find on this site. Recognise that you do NOT have to decide immediately if a thing is true or not, but that you reserve judgement.

Having a goal, strategy, and plan will help you determine what you do and don't need to pay attention to.

Don't become part of the problem yourself. If you hear a wild or unexpected claim or story, especially if it is second-hand or not from an official source, try to find an authoritative source or verify the claim before passing it on. Spreading bad information helps no one worth helping.

The Crew

Q: Who are you?

A: A motley crew. Mostly long-time G+ users.

Q: Why are you doing this?

A: Individual motives differ, though a common element is preserving a community we've found valuable. Some of us may see an opportunity to change the world, in a small way, hopefully for the better.

Q: What does "antefriguserat" mean?

A: It's Latin: Ante frigus erat "Before it was cool."

You hip?

Q: Do you have any relationship, endorsement, funding, with Google?

A: No.

We use their services, obviously, but this project is not associated or supported in any way.