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Google exec: Google+ is fastest-growing 'network thingy' ever

Google
Google

While announcing the addition of Communities — a feature vaguely similar to Facebook's Groups — to Google+, Google senior vice president Vic Gundotra also revealed the latest statistics for the Internet giant's ... "network thingy."

"Today Google+ is the fastest-growing network thingy ever," Gundotra writes in a post on the official Google Blog. "More than 500 million people have upgraded, 235 million are active across Google (+1'ing apps in Google Play, hanging out in Gmail, connecting with friends in Search...), and 135 million are active in just the stream."

In September, Gundotra announced that over 400 million people upgraded to Google+ and that there were over 100 million active users on the network (counting users across plus.google.com and the Google+ mobile apps). In June, at the time of the Google I/O conference, 250 million people had activated Google+ accounts and over 150 million were said to be active across the network (since this number includes use across Google products, it's comparable against the 235 million statistic announced on Thursday).

While the claim that Google+ is the fastest-growing "network thingy" of all time can be debated based on how you spin the data — recently released data by Nielsen suggests that Pinterest saw a 1,047 percent change in its unique users in the last year while Google+ saw an 80 percent change, for example — it's certainly good to see that Google's stopped playing around with numbers as much as it did in the past.

As NBC News' Suzanne Choney pointed out in September, some were confused by what appeared to be a discrepancy in monthly active user statistics thanks to the Internet giant's odd switch between which figures it offered — active users on Google versus active users on just plus.google.com and the network's mobile apps. This time around, we got to hear about both.

Are the numbers Google's throwing out enough to silence all the claims that it's social network/social layer/network thingy is a ghost town? Perhaps, but odds are that most will nod in the direction of that other social network, Facebook, and call attention to its over one billion active users. How long will it take Google+ to hit such a milestone?

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