Data Liberation, the Killer Feature of Google+

Google+ could kick facebook in the teeth, but one of the key reasons it has a chance is the presence of a feature set that very few people are likely to ever use —Data Liberation.  

Google has an entire team of engineers, called the Data Liberation Front, whose job is to protect users by making sure that Google’s products all provide export functionality. Their web site provides information on which of Google products have been liberated so far, as well as information on how to use those export features. 

In the Google+ settings menu, under the heading ‘Data Liberation’, you will find a unified export tool. This appears to be a variation on a new tool from the Data Liberation Team called Google Takeout (this link is for the non-Google+ specific version). The tool allows you to export all of your data from a variety of Google’s services all at once. Currently, only the major social products related to Google+ are included, but they plan to add other services to the takeout utility over time.    

Even though few people will export their Google+ data, the fact that an export feature exists at all has significant appeal. Google isn’t free of privacy, security and customer abuse concerns, but high-visibility features like this go a long way towards reassuring people.

In Google+, data liberation features pair well with an excellent set of privacy and security features. While the UI and functionality of Google+ are critically important, it’s the less visible details like data liberation that will decide if users are comfortable enough to even consider a switch from other social services.