In February 2014, The New York Times likened Google to a ghost town, citing Google stats of 540 million "monthly active users", but noting that almost half don't visit the site.
The company replied that the significance of Google was less as a Facebook competitor than as a means of gathering and connecting user information from Google's various services.
In November 2015, Google Plus underwent a redesign with the stated intent of making the site simpler and faster, making the new features of Communities and Collections more prominent, and removing features such as Hangouts, Events and Custom URLs.
Three Google executives have overseen the service, which has undergone substantial changes leading to a redesign in November 2015.
Google is the company's fourth foray into social networking, following Google Buzz (launched 2010, retired in 2011), Google Friend Connect (launched 2008, retired by March 1, 2012), and Orkut (launched in 2004, as of 2013). Features included the ability to post photos and status updates to the stream or interest based communities, group different types of relationships (rather than simply "friends") into Circles, a multi-person instant messaging, text and video chat called Hangouts, events, location tagging, and the ability to edit and upload photos to private cloud-based albums.
The everything setting as its name implies filters nothing out from people in that Circle.
The remaining two positions control the quantity of posts which appear in one's main Stream, but the algorithm controlling what shows has not been disclosed.
The option to share Public or with Everyone is always available.
Users were originally able to create Shared Circles, a one-time share to promote a circle of individuals, but the feature has been removed.In an interview with Steven Levy published on May 28, 2015, Horowitz said that Google was about to undergo a "huge shift" that would better reflect how the service is actually used.By that time, two core Google functions, communications and photos, had become standalone services.For the unsegmented Stream (includes content from all of a user's Circles), each Circle has a "slider" configuration item with four positions: nothing, some things, most things, and everything.The nothing position requires the user to select (click on) the Circle name explicitly to see content from users in that Circle.In the "Stream", which occupies the middle of three columns on the page, users see updates from those in their Circles.