For many, the new service offers the chance to press "reset on Facebook."
Google launched its Facebook competitor, Google+, just over a week ago now. Even though sign-ups have so far been limited to a fraction of Facebook's 750 million users, it already appears that, for a lot of people, Google+ will become the other social network they need to use. Why? Because a significant fraction of their friends will force them to.
It's not just that Google+ has 10-person video hangouts, or that Google+ is magically free of privacy worries. It's that Google has created the opportunity for Facebook-weary people to perform what one called "a reset on Facebook," allowing them to escape from Facebook members they've friended over the years but don't really want to interact with—and can't quite bring themselves to defriend.
The killer feature of Google+ is that, unlike Facebook, LinkedIn, or most other social networks, there's no such thing as a friend request. Users can create groups of friends, called Circles in Google+ terminology. These circles can include both other Google+ users and nonusers who receive status updates via e-mail rather than via the site. As a Google+ user, you can share your status updates and favorite links with those in one or more of these easily created circles, or with everyone. And you can see what other users have shared with you, or with everyone, in a Facebook-like feed that runs down the middle of the page.
But you'll never be put in the awkward situation of receiving a friend request from someone you don't really want to be Google+ friends with. Nor will you have to face the awkward decision of whether or not to defriend a former confidant with whom you've fallen out. Just remove them from your circles, which are never revealed to other users. Other than that, Google+ looks and behaves a lot like Facebook.