Google+ invites halted due to 'insane demand'
Google+ users were quietly given the ability to invite friends into the new social network on Wednesday night, but that option lasted only a few hours due to overwhelming demand.
Vic Gundotra, who is overseeing Google's social networking efforts, said in a Google+ post: "We've shut down invite mechanism for the night. Insane demand. We need to do this carefully, and in a controlled way. Thank you all for your interest!"
Gundotra's explanation of Google's invite disabling was shared more 1,000 times across Google+ by other users and received 995 +1's -- the +1 being Google's equivalent of Facebook's Like button -- as of Thursday morning.
Google didn't formally announce that it was opening up invites on Wednesday; instead, a small red envelope with Google's "G+" logo and the words "invite people to join Google+" popped up, and it seems it didn't take long before users found it and started bringing people in.
Gundotra didn't say when invites might return, but it is Google's style to go with invites before fully opening new products to the public, as has been the practice with the hugely popular Gmail service and the search giant's recently launched Google Music Beta.
The Google exec also made it clear that anyone who got into Google+ but wants out can leave and download all their data to take with them -- a feature not offered by Facebook, which suspends user accounts, but rarely ever deletes data a user uploads to its social network.
"For any who wish to leave, please remember you can always exit and take your data with you by using Google Takeout," Gundotra said. "It's your data, your relationships, your identity."
Built into Google+ are a number of options that allow users to determine who gets to see what they post -- from full-blown public sharing to specifying one or two "Circles" of friends to even individual Google+ users to keep things a bit more private.
Along with the Google Takeout feature, which allows users to download their entire Google+ data or in chunks of contacts or photos, the Mountain View company is making many efforts to make sure Google+ isn't the social-media embarrassment that Google Buzz was last year -- Buzz resulted in an FTC settlement and widespread privacy concerns.
With enough demand rolling in that Google decided to temporarily halt invites, it seems that consumers are willing to give Google a second chance in social media.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screenshot of the message from Vic Gundotra, a Google senior vice president, announcing that Google+ invites were being halted. Credit: Google