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Google+ Review

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Google+ launched in 2011, and its parent, Google, has the significant advantage of being many people’s web browser at all times, so it advertises itself as a social experience that keeps you connected even when you're not on the specific Google+ site. This site is designed to be a total communication social network. You can find new friends and stay up to date with old friends without having to leave your Gmail account.

The specific angle this social media site focuses on is creating what the company calls circles to distinguish connections. The four standard circles are friends, family, acquaintances and those you're following. You can create as many custom circles as you'd like.

Google+ emphasizes simplicity with its interface. It is a very easy site to navigate and manage. Beyond friend suggestions, Google+ suggests communities for you to join. The Communities tab gives you an easy way to search for groups based on your interests.

Once you've made friends on Google+, you can see when they are online. On the right side of the interface, you have several options for communicating with people in your circles. Once you click on someone's name, a private window opens up and starts an instant chat. Google takes instant messaging one step further with the Google Hangout feature. If you have a webcam and a microphone set up, you can video-chat with up to nine friends.

The profile page is clean and easy to read. In the People tab, you can see which communities and people you have in your circles, and those who have added you to their circles. You can add as much or as little information to your profile as you want. A great aspect of your profile page is the Links tab. Here, you can post your YouTube channel and add websites you own or contribute to. The only visual additions you can make are a profile picture and a cover photo.

You can search for connections by name, zip code, interests and keywords. It's easy to access contacts you already know by adding your school and email address. Because Google runs this social network, you know that the search engine is second to none. By clicking the Local tab, you can look for restaurants, hotels, and shopping areas by adding a keyword or business name and a location.

In the advanced settings, you can be extremely specific with your privacy and security preferences. You can manage future interactions and notifications and choose to include anyone, only you or those in your own circles. You are even able to manage who can see when you create a new social circle or join a community.

Google+ has become a solid competitor in the social media website world. It has an abundance of networking and search features. Overall, it's a great social media service that continues to get better and more user-friendly.