Mark Zuckerberg, top Google execs hide Google+ follower counts
Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin have all hidden how many friends and followers they have on Google+ and since then have fallen off a ranking of the 100 most popular people on the new social network.
It seems the three tech executives want a little privacy in their social networking. Late Tuesday night, apparently, they changed their privacy settings to no longer display how many people follow them or how many people they have placed in Circles, which are groups of friends in Google+.
As a result, the three dropped off an unofficial top-100 list compiled by an Amsterdam-based team of programmers on the website Google+ Statistics. The same group is responsible for Twitter Counter, which tracks user popularity on Twitter.
"Some Google+ members have further closed off their accounts last night which means you won't be able to track their follower and following counts," a statement on Google+ Statistics said. "This completely reshuffled the top 100."
Zuckerberg, the co-founder and chief executive of Facebook, had held the top spot on the popularity list, with more than 45,000 followers, according to a report from The Next Web blog.
Page, CEO and co-founder of Google, had been in second place, while Brin, the other Google co-founder, had been No. 4.
Between Page and Brin was Vic Gundotra, a Google senior VP heading up Google+ who also has fallen from the ranking after hiding his friends and followers.
With the top four gone, those below have moved up the list. On Wednesday, Rackspace tech blogger Robert Scoble, had the top spot, with 43,131 followers. He was followed by tech writer Leo Laporte with more than 42,000 followers, entrepreneur and investor Kevin Rose with 38,287 followers, and actress Felicia Day with more than 31,000.
Scoble was previously ranked fifth -- a spot that now belongs to Tom Anderson, a co-founder and former executive of Myspace.
Zuckerberg's move to go private on Google+ is less surprising than top Google brass pulling the same move. Popularity is a bragging right for many social networks -- with pages proudly displaying follower counts on Twitter and the number of people who "like this" on Facebook pages for musicians, movies, businesses and even public figures.
It could be possible that Google's Brin, Page and Gundotra don't want to take any attention away from Google+ itself, or maybe it could be a move to focus on content and interaction, rather than popularity on Google+ -- which would be an approach different from that of Twitter and Facebook.
Representatives of Facebook and Google couldn't be reached Wednesday to clarify the reasons for the privacy moves. We'll update this post if and when they do respond our requests for comment.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screenshot of the Wednesday July 13, 2011 rankings of Google+ users by number of followers on the website Google+ Statistics. Credit: Socialstatistics.com.