Google+ suggested user list stirs debate

The list may omit deserving people, create conflicts of interest and foster racial stereotypes, pundits complain.

Google+ is promoting a popularity contest of sorts that isn't sitting well with some users of the social networking service.

Google+ VP of Product Bradley Horowitz tweeted Friday that the service would be piloting a suggested user mechanism and asked people with more than 100,000 followers on Twitter to contact him.

Criticism was fast and furious.

Tech pundit Robert Scoble has said he wants off the list and San Francisco Chronicle blogger Zennie Abraham suggested the list fosters racial stereotypes.

Scoble posted 13 reasons he wants Google to remove him from its list, including Paris Hilton being on it but not other deserving people. He also said he didn't want to appear to have a conflict of interest when writing about Google. "It just isn't a well curated list and so I don't want my name associated with it," he wrote.

Abraham wrote, "The Google Suggested User List reads like the typical San Francisco Bay Area tech firm's view of the World: most of the 'interesting and famous people' are white, and if they're black, they're male rappers or athletes. Hello, Snoop Dog, Chamillionaire, 50 Cent, Dwight Howard, and Floyd Mayweather!" As TechCrunch pointed out, a similar suggested user list on Twitter has been controversial because those on it would gain thousands of followers a day, and people not on the list thought this was unjust.

To be fair, the list appears to be a work in progress and likely will change.

Horowitz followed up his announcement with another Google+ post, answering questions people are asking about the list.

He wrote, "We've seeded the list with some folks we knew were either already creating great content on Google+, and/or were known to be interesting on other systems. Consider them hypotheses we'll test. Inclusion in today's list is no guarantee of placement into perpetuity."

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesGoogletwitterGoogle Plusinternetsocial mediasocial networks

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Christina DesMarais

PC World (US online)

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