Fact Sheet

The 'obviously smart' Google+ 'celebrity acquisition plan'

Watch out, Twitter. The new social network is looking to get Hollywood on its side

Having attracted 10 million users in its first three weeks, Google+ is now reportedly looking for Hollywood types to boost its momentum. Here, a brief guide to the new social network's "obviously smart" celebrity acquisition plan:

What's happening?"Google would like its new social network to be well-known in Hollywood circles," says Mark Millian at CNN, To that end, the search giant is reportedly drawing up a "celebrity acquisition plan," according to company emails reviewed by CNN. 

Why would Google+ want celebs?To continue to draw in new users at a rapid rate and challenge Twitter. "I know plenty of people who joined Twitter in the first place because of some artist or writer or musician," says Matt Weinberger at ZDNet, "and verified celebrity accounts like Kanye West's have followers in the multiple millions." In many ways, Google+'s trajectory resembles Twitter's in its fledgling period, says Millian. "But Twitter reached a new stratosphere when it got the endorsements from athletes and luminaries, such as Ashton Kutcher and President Barack Obama."

Is there a downside to Google+ courting celebrities?You bet, says Chris Nerney at IT World. "Celebrity Bait works" in winning new users, but it's not all good. Sadly, "the people who follow celebrities on social networking platforms too often fail to realize they're being used" for marketing and data mining purposes.

Are any big names on Google+ already?50 Cent, Alyssa Milano, and Ashton Kutcher are all reportedly on Google+. William Shatner is also on the site, but he had his profile taken down and then reinstated, perhaps because it was wrongly assumed to be fake.

How would this whole plan work?One important step would be a Twitter-inspired validation process and a badge that confirms a celebrity's identity and prevent other users from impersonating him. Google might require a celeb to fax over a copy of a driver's license, but, more likely, the company will work directly with talent agents and managers to get bonafide stars on the site, an approach that Brett Schulte, a Hollywood consultant, says he's discussed with Google. Among other tactics the search giant could use to draw in celebs, says Adrian Chen at Gawker, are star-centric money-making schemes or special VIP features.

Does Facebook have a system like this?Not quite. According to CNN, Facebook doesn't have a "front-facing system" to legitimize celebrity pages, though celeb pages can be authenticated behind the scenes, qualifying the star for special customer service. Celebrities can also request that Facebook take down profiles set up by phonies.

Sources: Business Insider, CNN, Gawker, IT World, ZDNet

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