Soon after Google+ launched, Google shut down its invite system because of high demand. Now, Google allows its users to invite more people, and an obvious place for them to look is the world's largest social network: Facebook. Users are thus sharing Google+ invite links on their Facebook walls. Google claimed this week that Facebook is actively blocking these invites.
Vic Gundotra, Google Senior Vice President of social business, linked to a video posted on YouTube (embedded above) demonstrating that Google+ invites shared on Facebook were not showing up in the News Feed of other Facebook users. "We are getting reports of Google+ invite links not showing up on Facebook news feeds anymore (they appear to have stopped on Friday), he wrote on Google+. "I wonder how widespread this problem is?"
Comments on Gundotra's Google+ post filled up to the max with users trying to reproduce the issue. "Vic's post is filling up with comments (yeah... we'll fix that) so wanted to give you another place to share your experiences... and insights...," Bradley Horowitz, Google's vice president of product management, posted on Google+. Comments on both threads reported mixed results: some had the issue while others did not.
Facebook has denied the fact that it is stopping users from sharing the Google+ invite URL. The social networking giant noted that it has a display-filtering technology that helps prevent spam, which almost always includes a link. As a result, it is possible for this system to exclude a certain link from re-appearing on a user's News Feed if it has previously been posted several times.
"We have seen the video but have been unable to replicate the experience it shows," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "Newsfeed is an automated system that is designed to deliver the most relevant content to you and your friends. The technology evaluates hundreds of factors, including your relationship to the poster, the type of content, the click-through rate (where appropriate), and people hiding similar posts from their feed. In real time, it decides what to display to you and what to filter for both Top News and Most Recent. It also includes systems that attempt to identify and block spam. Links have a history of the most abuse and are given the most scrutiny. As a result of all of these factors, a given link may be shown or filtered to people differently at different times."
I tried reproducing this issue myself and Google+ invites appear just fine on all my friends' News Feeds. Sister site CNET also failed to recreate the behavior on multiple accounts at different times of day.
Some speculate this could be a Google plot to spur distrust for Facebook while bringing more attention to Google+. I'm not sure the search giant would go that far, but I think it's telling the company's employees chose to post about the issue on their own social network rather than contacting Facebook directly and asking for an explanation.