Do you remember Google+? More specifically, do you remember all of that rich content that you left behind when you finally abandoned the failed social platform a few years ago? You have probably always meant to go download your Google+ data … right?
Well, now the clock is finally ticking and time is running out fast.
If you are dreading the task, look at it another way rather than as a chore. What if you go searching for some “blog content gold” … nuggets of information that could spark new ideas for blog posts, or even entire passages that could be repurposed for your blog? You might be surprised at how many posts you wrote back in the day!
In his article, ‘The Fall of Google+,’ Gideon Rosenblatt reveals that he alone contributed 5,479 posts to the platform. Gideon joined Google+ in 2011 and was one of the few that never actually left; in fact, he is still posting on a regular basis to this day.
Let’s face it though, for many of us, Google+ has been dead for a long time. Perhaps not for as long as some of the tech pundits claimed, but long enough. Even our own team of die-hard Google+ fanboys and girls finally admitted defeat and removed the G+ social sharing button from Warfare Plugins as well as our own blogs, a move due to the announcement that Google+ share counts would not be supported.
However, as much as we knew in our hearts that G+ was finally dead, it still came as a shock to learn that it would soon be gone for good.
The Shocking Announcements
On October 8, 2018, Google Fellow and Vice President of Engineering Ben Smith announced the shutdown of Google+. He cited the fact that Google+ had not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption and low usage and engagement; however, the main factor appears to have been due to a bug that was “discovered and immediately patched … in March 2018” and that “the Profiles of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected.” The announcement gave August of 2019 as the sunset date.
Then, on December 10, 2018, David Thacker, VP of Product Management, G Suite announced the expedited shutdown of Google+ after discovering a new bug “introduced in November.” In his blog post, Thacker says, “With the discovery of this new bug, we have decided to expedite the shut-down of all Google+ APIs; this will occur within the next 90 days. In addition, we have also decided to accelerate the sunsetting of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019. While we recognize there are implications for developers, we want to ensure the protection of our users.” He also went on to say that this bug affected approximately 52.5 million users.
Perhaps even more shocking to some of the users and former users of the platform is the vagueness of these announcements. In mid-December, not long after the December 10th announcement, Gideon worked with a handful of volunteers to gather questions from the community about the shutdown process, which he then compiled into a document on Google Drive. Unfortunately, answers have not been forthcoming.
On December 20, 2018, the Google Developers blog reported that Google+ APIs “may start to intermittently fail as early as January 28, 2019,“ and would be shut down completely by March 7, 2019.
Options For Retrieving Your Google+ Data
Okay, so now that we have convinced you that Google+ is really, truly dead this time … and we are sure you don’t want to just let your Google+ data vanish, so here are the options for retrieving it:
- Use Google Takeout
- Use Google+ Exporter by Friends+Me
- Manually Copy/Paste
- Wait for Google to provide another option
Let’s explore each of these options in more detail
1. Use Google Takeout
Unfortunately, I have heard that Google Takeout is not perfect and the data can be very difficult to make heads or tails of … assuming it works at all. I gave it a try earlier today (January 15, 2019) and I will update this blog post once (or if) it completes. The message I received after clicking “Create Archive” was “Please note that archives may take a long time (hours or possibly days) to create. You will receive an email when your archive is complete.”
Update January 16, 2019: My update is complete but with errors. The exact message was “Archive incomplete. Sorry, but we weren’t able to fetch all the data you requested. Products with incomplete data are indicated below. Also, your archive contains a list of the missing files. Please try to create your archive again.” A
I may have tried to include too much, so I tried to select specific data to see if that lessened the wait time and would retrieve just my Google+ stream data and photos without errors.
Note: By default, Google Takeout will send a message to your Gmail account when the archive file is ready for download. If you choose, Takeout will also transfer to your Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive accounts.
I checked the archives after about 30 minutes, and my downloads for the smaller selection were available. Once available, you have a week to download your files.
It was split into two downloads, each with a ton of files; but, I was able to find a list of my posts, which are downloaded as complete HTML files and even include comments.
2. Use Google+ Exporter by Friends+Me
A second option allows you to export your Google+ feeds to WordPress, Blogger, and JSON using Google+ Exporter by Friends+Me. According to the product’s official website, you can export your Google+ profile, page, collection and community posts separately or together.
Once you have retrieved your data, you can import it into WordPress. Here is an example WordPress import: https://googleplusexporter.wordpress.com
The free version of the application enables you to download up to 800 posts per every single Google+ feed (profile, page, collection, community). Some posts may not be downloaded by the free version of the app if the limit is met. You can buy a license key to get unlimited downloads for $19.99.
Once you install the app, you will be prompted to login to your Google+ account. Then, you simply select a feed and click “Download” to get started.
I actually do not know how many posts I have since I downloaded the free version and I hit my 800 limit after it ran for about 5 minutes.
When I click “Export” it gives me the option to export comments and private posts. It also lets me choose whether to export to JSON, WordPress backup file, or Blogger backup file.
I am not entirely sure that this is useful as I would not want to import hundreds or thousands of (mostly silly or useless) posts into my blog. I suppose if you only published quality content, it might be worth it, but I used it as a social platform as well, so there is a mishmash of content that I can’t imagine would do well as a blog.
Of course, if you just want to get it all onto a separate blog that you own so you can mine it over time, that might make sense.
3. Manually Copy/Paste
This option is probably only viable if you were only on Google+ for a short time, if you did not post very often, or if you are very OCD and want to hand select what you keep.
If you choose this option, simply
4. Wait for Google to provide another option
In his initial blog post announcing the shutdown of Google+, Smith said, “Over the coming months, we will provide consumers with additional information, including ways they can download and migrate their Google+ data.”
Thacker reiterated in his blog post to announce the expedited shutdown of Google+, “We want to give users ample opportunity to transition off of consumer Google+, and over the coming months, we will continue to provide users with additional information, including ways they can safely and securely download and migrate their Google+ data.”
So, a 4th option is to wait for that additional information to be revealed.
Don’t Forget to Give Your Website a Google+ Cleanup
Removing the Google+ Social Sharing Button
You may as well go ahead and remove the G+ social sharing button from Social Warfare. We will be implementing a piece of code in our next update to automatically remove the G+ button when the social network is finally shut down for good.
Removing Embedded Google+ Posts, Mention Links, Google+ Comments, Etc.
Did you embed Google+ posts on your blog? Did you link mentions to Google+? Did you have Google+ comments included on your blog? Did you embed the G+ profile or community profile on your website? Do you have a follow button to the social network? If so, all of these issues need to be addressed. You might also want to check your bios for a mention of Google Plus (I need to update quite a few of mine!), and anywhere else you can think of. Finally, you might even want to remove Google+ specific blog posts from your website that will no longer be relevant once the network is gone.
Deleting Your Google+ Account
Farewell, Google+. We will miss you.