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In the era when Facebook and Twitter dominate the market for social media, Google has introduced Google+ (G+) and reported a significant growth in its size while others called it a ghost town. This begs the question of whether G+ can really attract a significant number of connected and active users despite the dominance of Facebook and Twitter. This paper presents a detailed longitudinal characterization of G+ based on large-scale measurements. We identify the main components of G+ structure and characterize the key feature of their users and their evolution over time. We then conduct detailed analysis on the evolution of connectivity and activity among users in the largest connected component (LCC) of G+ structure, and compare their characteristics to other major online social networks (OSNs). We show that despite the dramatic growth in the size of G+, the relative size of the LCC has been decreasing and its connectivity has become less clustered. While the aggregate user activity has gradually increased, only a very small fraction of users exhibit any type of activity, and an even smaller fraction of these users attracts any reaction. The identity of users with most followers and reactions reveal that most of them are related to high-tech industry. To our knowledge, this study offers the most comprehensive characterization of G+ based on the largest collected datasets.
Characterization; Evolution; Google; Measurements; Online social networks