Google is saying that it’s time for Google+ to be going, going… though not completely gone.
The company announced Monday it will pull back Google+’s integration with Google products in an attempt to streamline the service, which has been panned by users who have been confused and annoyed at being forced into the network.
YouTube will be the first entity to split off. In the coming months, YouTubers will be able to create channels, upload videos and post comments with regular Google accounts. And beginning Monday, YouTube comments won’t appear on Google+ or be linked to publicly searchable Google+ pages.
More uncoupling is on the way, said Bradley Horowitz, vice president of Streams, Photos, and Sharing.
“It doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use,” he wrote on Google’s blog. For example, Google+ Photos has recently been re-purposed into Google Photos.
Google+ launched in 2011 as a social network that allowed users to share links, photos and other media among “circles” of friends. But it never came close to rivaling Facebook in popularity.
A recent study by Stone Temple Consulting claims to have found that 90% of Google+ profiles contain no content, suggesting that many people joined only in order to link with services such as YouTube.
A Google representative said the company doesn’t share metrics on how many Google+ profiles exist.