Want a Google Account? Now You’re Automatically Signed Up for Google+

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Google+ is on the rise! Google CEO Larry Page just announced that the company’s social network hit 90 million members. Even the White House is in on the action, setting up its own Google+ page so you can chill with your favorite administration officials in Google+ Hangouts.

What’s Google’s secret? Maybe it’s the fact that you can barely go on the Internet nowadays without accidentally signing up for a Google+ account.

(MORE: Search, Plus Your World: Google’s Risky Gambit)

Say you want to start a Google Account so you can use Google Calendar or create personalized searches. Now, according to Google Operating System, you automatically get a Gmail and Google+ account.

Yes, you can delete them, but the fact that you automatically have a digital presence created for you seems off to me, especially considering many people create accounts simply to access Google Docs or use one of the many other (excellent) Google products.

This would help explain the dramatic growth Google+ has seen. But are people actually engaging with it once they sign up? Larry Page claims they are:

Engagement on + is also growing tremendously. I have some amazing data to share there for the first time: +users are very engaged with our products — over 60% of them engage daily, and over 80% weekly.

I stand corrected! Perhaps I live in a bubble of Facebook users, while the rest of the United States, unbeknownst to me, is clicking happily away on Google+ every day.

Or perhaps I, like the rest of the industry, simply misunderstood the statement. Jeff Bercovici over at Forbes solves the “Mystery of the Phantom Google+ User”:

Note that Page said users are “very engaged with our products” — “products,” plural. So 60% of the 90 million people who have created Google Plus profiles engage with some Google product every day, but that product could be Gmail, Google Documents, Google Calendar or even just Google Search. Google just isn’t breaking out how many of those 90 million users are actually visiting G+ pages every day, week or month.

Shame on you Larry Page, for making me think that people actually use Google+.

Listen, I actually don’t have anything against the social network; I like its intuitive design, the fact that my Gchat contacts are front and center, and how the photos from my Android phone are automatically uploaded to my account. I signed up willingly and am glad for it.

The problem is how Google keeps trying to force it down people’s throats, whether through automatically signing people up or trying to push engagement with disasters like Search, plus Your World. If you want to wrest away market share from Facebook, try making your product more engaging than Facebook, not finding ways to artificially pump up your numbers.

MORE: Google+ Addresses Internet’s Dangerous Shortage of Memes