Google+ is shutting down, and the site's few loyal users are mourning

When John Lewis heard that Google+ was shutting down after the discovery of a security bug that left private profile data exposed, it felt like a crushing blow — even though he could see it coming.

Lewis, a freelance writer who has spent nearly eight years living an isolated life in the Costa Rican rainforest, starts almost every morning sipping coffee while chatting with friends on Google+ and reading his feeds on the social network.

"Plus has long been Google's orphan child," Lewis told CNBC by phone on Monday after Google announced that it's shuttering the 7-year-old service in the coming months. "I had hoped that it would stay that way forever."

Lewis is among a tiny but fiercely loyal cadre of Google+ users who stuck with the site for years, undeterred even as Google carved it into pieces or outsiders declared it dead. It had become so irrelevant as a landing spot that, by Google's own admission, 90 percent of user sessions lasted less than five seconds.

But for people like Lewis, that was all part of the charm.

Unlike Facebook, which has thrived by getting billions of users to share baby photos alongside ads for shoes, and Twitter, where bullies and bots have proliferated, Google+ has remained a quiet social enclave where users say they're able to engage in meaningful conversations and get useful feedback.

Most notably, Google+ fans say the site's lack of ads, the ability to write long posts, and a focus on topics to connect people — instead of existing friendships or public figures — created a platform that encouraged real, sustained dialogue with strangers.

"It's really been a lifeline for me," said Lewis, who created a group called "Google+ Mass Migration" in the hopes of salvaging his adopted community. "The social interactions I'd have there I couldn't get anywhere else."

Source - CDN

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