Anger Mounts As Google+ Plays Favorites With Brands

Unless you count the bacteria parties during the Cambrian Explosion, Google+ is the fastest growing social network in history, hitting 18 million users in just its first two weeks. Not surprisingly many companies want to get in on the gold rush, with savvy sites like Mashable racking up over 100,000 followers on their news account already.

But even as sites like Mashable have thrived, others have found Google+ much less hospitable. Yesterday Google+ took down ABC News Radio’s profile, much to the chagrin of its the company’s digital platform manager Dan Patterson.

ABC News Radio's Digital Platform Manager Dan Patterson

Boing Boing spoke with Google about the issue and was told that brand account would be going live within a few months. They took down their official Boing Boing profile and replaced it with an intern who posted news links. But Xeni Jardin wasn’t ready to stop asking why companies like Mashable and Ford seemed to be getting special treatment. “You can’t ask orgs to simply not engage with such a powerful traffic mover. Not when Mashable has 72K followers or whatever. You can’t just ask other brands to chill and wait until [whenever],” she wrote on Google+.

Mashable claimed innocence, which seemed a little odd given that they had reported on the fact that Google+ was asking businesses not to join.

mashable news google plus Anger Mounts As Google+ Plays Favorites With Brands

A conspiracy thread quickly spread about Mashable, however, and dozens of Google + users conspired to report its presence as an abuse. And as Zach Behrens — who jumped on this story first and did a great job rounding up details —pointed out at The Public Note, Google seems to be milking Mashable’s rabid fan base for social juice to prime the pump on Google+. “Perhaps what’s been most confusing is that Google has been actively promoting Mashable on Twitter. Of the 40 tweets since its launch, the Google+ Twitter account has given 14 links to Mashable.”

Some Googlers, like software engineer Dewitt Clinton, tried to make this a principled stand.

dewitt clinton google plus Anger Mounts As Google+ Plays Favorites With Brands

But by that time, replied Xeni Jardin, the power players would already be established. “I think Google fucked up by not rolling out brand support on day one. Two months is an eternity on the internet.”

UPDATE: As programer Jonathan Langdale point out -“You can see they [Mashable] have HTML code in their post.  Nobody else can seem to insert html code, or can we? This is probably a new business profile?”


  1. Anonymous says:

    Boo hoo!

  2. Thanks for the post, Ben.
    For the record (and I do only speak for myself), I wouldn’t qualify myself as angry and feel my involvement in this story has been only peripheral. A search of my profile will yield the full discussion on this issue – ranging back to a few great and positive conversations last week. And much of the conversation can be found here: 

    I used Plus initially because in the first few days there were no ‘rules’ – the engagement from our community on Plus was very encouraging and I was happy to have a new platform to explore. When Google released their ‘hold off’ video I pulled our profile. It was then brought to my attention that many other news orgs were still using plus, including mine. 

    So, because we had a such a nice response on the first go, I decided to fire it back up. Again, things went quiet well. But the story percolated and back-channel conversation occurred. Many signals were mixed and the policy clarity (read: ‘rules’) shifted to opacity.  There weren’t a lot of brands on Plus, but there were a lot of news orgs. And we were all a bit confused due to messages many of us were receiving internally and back-channel.  Yesterday, I decided to skirt the controversy altogether and shut down the page. I made a few pre-announcments to our community. When I went to shut the page down, I discovered that it had been closed by Google. I then made another announcement to the community and thought that was that. It wasn’t deal (or didn’t seem to be) a big deal.

    My feelings are this: 1.) It’s really not that big of a deal, 2.) I care more about content and community than ‘rules,’ particularly poorly-articulated and non-universally applied rules., 3.) Google probably should have communicated their policy more clearly (perhaps with an easily-linked-to blog post) and jumped on this issue earlier, but 4.) it’s really not that big of a deal.

    I begrudge no one, I’m not upset, and it’s an interesting and curious issue for our community to discuss.


    – DHP

  3. Stewart Ridgway says:

    Yeah, I think that if Google wants this to be an overwhelming success, they are really going to have to cater for the Business/Artist/Entertainment accounts very soon. We’ve become used to having them and following them – for Google+ to not have that already is a bit strange and confusing.

  4. It appears as though the Mashable Google+ account has been removed: (

  5. jolie said we have to pray for mashable.

  6. YesThatTom says:

    What HTML code?  Everyone knows you can get italics by surrounding text with “-“, bold “*” and so on.