Google co-founder Sergey Brin and social chief Vic Gundotra critiqued the state of social media during a joint interview that probed the web giant's social strategy, its attempts to take on Facebook and the success of the recently-launched Google+.
Gundotra, Google's senior vice-president of social business and a key architect of Google+, knocked the Facebook's latest update to its Open Graph, which will allow an application to automatically post on Facebook every action a user takes on that app. Gundotra argued that the change removes filters that users value and would prefer to have in place, predicting that it could lead to over-sharing and even embarrassment.
"There is a reason why every thought in your head does not come out of your mouth," said Gundotra during an interview at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. "I think a core attribute to being human is to curate."
Through Facebook's newly-introduced integration with music-streaming service Spotify, users can post every song they listen to on Facebook. Gundotra said he finds this feature unnecessary -- "Even when it's something as simple as music, I won't want everything to be shared," he said -- and potentially problematic when it comes to more sensitive information, such as what individuals are reading.
Gundotra stressed that Google+ will, by contrast "take a privacy centered approach, one that's very focused on individuals."
The "social czar" teased several new features that will be coming to Google+ soon.
The social network has faced criticism from numerous users over its lack of support for pseudonyms -- some individuals even had their accounts deleted in error because Google mistakenly assumed they had listed fake names -- and Gundotra promised that Google+ would allow accounts under pseudonyms soon. He attributed the delay to an attempt to "set" a particular atmosphere on the site, as well as "development priorities." He said brand pages will also be coming soon, though not within "days," and noted Google had some "clever ideas" for advertising they would be announcing soon.
For a company that strives for speed and prides itself on launching first, then correcting later, Google seemed to be taking Google+ surprisingly slow. The less rapid approach to rolling out new features could be a sign of just Google's determination (desperation?) to get social networking right this time around.
"We're going to take a cautious approach," said Gundotra of Google's plans to release APIs for Google+. "We'd rather to it slow and do it carefully."
Brin, who last posted publicly on Google+ over a week ago, confessed "social" isn't in his DNA, but that Google+ has changed his mind.
"I'm not a very social person myself," he said, according to a tweet from Bill Gross," But I found Google+ very compelling."
Brin also mocked a leaked memo penned by a Google engineer, who blasted Google+ as a "pathetic afterthought" and "knee-jerk reaction."
"I didn't make it past the first thousand pages myself," Brin said.
He added that he now uses it as a "nighttime aid."