The Lowdown on Google+ Circles


One of the biggest features that separates Google+ from Facebook is Circles. With this feature, users can group the people they’re following by any category they come up with. Unlike Facebook, where everything the user posts goes on a single monolithic feed page that all their friends have access to, user-generated content is split among the different Circles. If the user wants to post something that is only relevant to their work contacts, they can post it without their friends and family having to see it. If they want to post a joke that might offend Aunt Louise and their boss, they can let only their Friends circle see it. Contacts on Google+ are more like Twitter than Facebook, in that you can follow a connection without necessarily being followed back, and vice versa.

Conveniently, you can add people into different circles visually, by dragging a photo of them onto a literal circle representing a category. You can remove them by dragging their photo out of the circle. When you add new content to your Stream, Google+ asks you which Circles you want to see it.

Facebook is not taking the Google+ idea of Circles sitting down. Shortly after the Google+ closed beta began, a group of Facebook engineers coded a Facebook add-on called Circle Hack in one night. However, its functionality was a bit rough, as it was indeed a hack built around Facebook’s Lists feature. Facebook has yet to directly offer a competitor to Circles.

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