Google+ causes stir with Suggested User list

Social network tries to help users find interesting people to follow; critics say it's elitist

Google+ is trying to help users expand their Circles by offering them a new Suggested User list. The only problem is that some users are taking exception to what they're calling an elitist system.

Late last week, Google's new social network, Google+, posted the list in an attempt to help users who want new people to follow but aren't sure how to do that. Increasing followers also would boost the "sticky factor" of the new site and possibly make Google+ more popular in the social networking world.

The list includes tech-related people including Mike Elgan, a columnist for Computerworld, and Pete Cashmore, the CEO and founder of Mashable. However, the list also includes celebrities like Paris Hilton and Taylor Swift.

Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer, made the Google+ Suggested User list but says she's not a fan of these lists in a post on Google. "I totally wish Google+ didn't go down the list path," she wrote. "But I will probably mine the list for ideas. And probably, eventually, so will you. And I guess that's why they do it. We succumb. But I can assure you: A suggested user list will never help this tool go mainstream or keep the 'regular people' around."

And while the list is the topic of online chatter, Bradley Horowitz, a product vice president for Google+, took on the jabs that the list is elitist in a post.

"Today's list isn't yet personalized," Horowitz wrote. "At first, personalization will be 'lite' -- users in different regions and languages will get different recommendations. But per above, we intend to allow people to deeply personalize and connect with like-minded people that create great content around almost any topic they care about."

He added that they're goal is to enable Google+ to connect people on a myriad of topics. "There's actually quite a lot of diversity on the initial list, and I expect that very few of us had discovered all of these folks," said Horowitz." "I know I've discovered some great new folks I'd never heard of."

While Google+ now is helping users find people to be interested in, just a few weeks ago, the site added a button that enables users to ignore () people who annoy them.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Read more about web 2.0 and web apps in Computerworld's Web 2.0 and Web Apps Topic Center.

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
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