Google held a Google Photos event shortly after the Google I/O 2015 keynote and in this, Vice President of Photos and Streams, Bradley Horowitz, said the company would focus on connecting people via Google+ rather than using the social network as a brand moving forwards. Until recently, Google+ was used as a means of backing up photographs before the service was replaced with Google Photos. Before now, if customers wanted to store photographs into Google's cloud storage facility, they needed to use the Google+ application. This has recently changed, and Google has announced that it will be phasing out the old Google+ method of backing up photographs and videos in favor of the new Photos backup service.
We have news today that Google has adjusted how Knowledge Graph cards appear in Google searches, which appears to correlate with the announcement of the change in status of Google+. Specifically, Google has removed these Google+ posts from the Knowledge Graph cards in the Google search results and at the bottom of this article, you can see a before and after search result for Salesforce.com. The Knowledge Cards appear to the right of search results and display key information about the company being searched, such as stock prices, 'phone numbers and social profile links. What's happening with the Google+ posts, then? Google is positioning these along with the search results but is no longer giving them a special privilege, but instead the Google+ results are displayed along with the Twitter and other publically accessible links including other social networks. This change officially went live last week.
A Google spokesperson reported that the Google+ posts were removed from the Knowledge Graph in search results in order to provide more consistency with other social networks; perhaps reading between the lines, this is Google's way of ensuring that it is not accused of pushing its own social network in front of competitor products as much as it is changing how Google+ is used. Earlier in the year, Google removed Google+ branding from its search homepage and notification tray. However, users should not think that Google+ is being singled out as earlier in the year, Google experimented with including other social networks into the same Knowledge Graph area but removed this function earlier as well.