Google+ : Let the Facebook Exodus Begin

I came back from vacation and heard about Google+, the long-rumored social network from the search giant. I caught the news on TWiG (This Week in Google). This was an impressive episode, with Vic Gundotra, SVP Engineering and Bradley Horowitz, VP Product Management at Google appearing as guests. Truly a big deal.

And so is Google+. I had my invitation July 5th, and was predicting “Facebook is so over” in my first post. Once Google+ gets a larger participating user base, Facebook is yesterday’s news, just like MySpace and Friendster. Right now, the tech geeks are all over Google+.After it catches on with the general public, it’s going to dominate the social sphere. Not that Facebook isn’t trying. Facebook is currently in “launching season”, about to unveil new enhancements and features, the first of which being Skype video capabilities which can be launched via Facebook’s chat tool. Yawn – Google+’s Hangouts component allows up to 10 people to video chat simultaneously. Google clearly wins, whipping Facebook “cafeteria style” and serving Zuck and company up with a side of creamed corn and dirty silverware.

The biggest problem with Facebook is how certain data is “held hostage”, and you can’t get at it. Well, you can, but not easily. For instance, Facebook won’t export your friends and their contact information. Facebook doesn’t give you an easy way to pull down all your pictures. Oh – make no mistake, Mark Zuckerberg will tell you that you can have your data, just in one big .zip file – and that is without your friend’s contacts.

You should own your data – but Mark Zuckerberg acts like he does. Try to get your friends’ contact information out of Facebook.

Another problem with Facebook is it’s too much work to keep your friends in groups and keep post relevant to certain groups from others, and vice versa. Google+ does this extremely well with the Circles component. For those not on Google+, Circles lets you group your friends based on relationships. You can put all your work friends in a circle, and your personal friends in another. Friends can be in more than one circle, and you can create as many circles as you want.

There are other components to Google+ such as Photos, Hangouts, and Huddles. As with any new product, there are some tricks and tips for using Google+, which you can find here. What I would like to share in this post is how to get your “stuff” out of Facebook – the stuff Mark Zuckerberg makes it difficult for you to have. On Google+, your data is yours, and you can take all your marbles and go home any time you want. Why stick with a service that won’t let you have your “stuff”?

Once you see how to get your photos from Facebook, you will probably be uncomfortable. With the trick below, you can get more than your pictures, you have the capability to  snare photos from any of your friends as well, and that’s plain wrong. But that is the way privacy works at Facebook. It’s swiss cheese.

HOW TO GET YOUR CONTACTS (and invite them to Google+ at the same time)

Step 1: Log into your Yahoo Mail account. If you don’t have one yet, create one. Then, click on the “Contacts” tab in mail. Click “Import contacts” and then select the Facebook icon in the next screen. You’ll be asked to authorize the connection. Yahoo will import all your Facebook friends’ names and e-mails into your contacts list. Note – you will only see email addresses for Facebook friends that elected to share their email address with you. Chances are most of your friends find Facebook’s privacy settings so layered and complex, they haven’t kept it from you.

Step 2: Go to Google+, log in, and click “View and edit” in the sidebar on the right (below “in your circles”). In the next window, click “Find and invite.” Click “Yahoo,” agree to the terms, and watch as Google imports your Yahoo contacts (from Facebook) into Google+. You will see your Facebook friends under “Find and Invite” after a few hours, in some cases, the next day.

Step 3: Add all the Facebook friends you want on Google+ into Circles you designate. Then go to the Google+ dashboard, compose a post, and share it with those circles. Make sure to check “Also e-mail *people not yet using Google+”. This forces invites to occur whenever Google allows more new users into the Google+ Project. They are scaling this along, growing it gradually but rapidly. Google won’t share how many people are on Google+, however, Google has announced that all Google profiles that are private will become public July 31st. In order for Google+ to work, your profile has to be public. My guess is the private to public move is for the global rollout of Google+, which I predict will be complete by the end of August.

GETTING YOUR PHOTOS OUT OF FACEBOOK

Step 1:  Photograbber will get your photos from Facebook and put them on your hard drive. Download, unzip and install as per normal for your operating system (PC/Mac versions available free).

Step 2: When you open Photograbber you’ll be faced with a simple window which says “Login“. When you click this, you’ll be taken to a Facebook authentication page in your browser so that you can allow Photograbber the access it needs to get your photos. Once authenticated, you’ll be given an authentication code which you’ll manually have to copy and paste back into the Photograbber program.

Step 3: The Photograbber program actually allows you to download any photos you have access to on Facebook. So, you need to ensure you choose “Myself” from the list of people. Here’s the scary part and another place where Facebook’s privacy settings are lacking. You can run this process for anyone on your friends list, just click their name. There’s a few other options you can choose from here too, such as whether to download all of your albums or just any photo you’re tagged in, whether to download all of the album if you’re tagged in one photo (eg. to get all the photos from a party you were at). You can also choose to get all the comments and tagging information if you like.

Step 4: Create a folder to put them in, since this process will create many folders and their “date modified” will be according to the last photo added, not when they were downloaded. Depending how many pictures you are pulling it can take time to collect information on which photos to download and then to get them downloaded.

Step 5: Go to the folder you created, and you will see a series of sub folders, one for each album you had on Facebook. If you chose to download photos you’re tagged in, those will be in their own sub folders. This makes it easy to use the Picasa uploader to eventually get them into Google+.

For anyone interested in finding me on Google+, go to http://kev2.me/plus.

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