July 19, 2011, 4:43 PM — Here we go.
First came the get-a-life geeks, as ITworld blogger Dan Tynan points out in this incisive post.
Now Google+ is ready for Phase 2 of its Mission to Destroy Facebook: Attracting celebrities so that the unwashed and gullible masses can experience the delusion of interacting with Famous People while building user numbers and advertising revenue for the search giant.
Google would like its new social network to be well-known in Hollywood circles.
To that end, the Internet giant is drawing up a "celebrity acquisition plan" to help publicize Google+, its 3-week-old social network, according to Google e-mails reviewed by CNN.
As part of this initiative, Google is beginning to devise a system that would verify the identities of public figures who sign up for the service, said Brett Schulte, a Hollywood consultant and organizer of social-media gatherings called Tweet House.
There'll be no Fake Charlie Sheens on Google+ proclaiming their love of strippers and drugs! No sir! Which is too bad, because one of the genuine joys of Twitter is when a regular person dons the mask of a celebrity, pumping out humorous and ironic tweets until the star's lawyer threatens them or Twitter shuts them down.
Of course, using Celebrity Bait is a formula that predates social media and even the Internet. I mean, would I ever have gone to Spooky World somewhere in Massachusetts in the '90s were it not for the prospect of meeting Linda Blair, Tiny Tim and the guy who played Jason in Friday the 13th? I don't think so!
And how many fewer Scientologists would there be if Tom Cruise didn't jump up and down on a TV talk-show couch once in awhile, or make a weirdly disturbing promotional video that has nearly 7 million views on YouTube? You can't buy that kind of publicity!
So Celebrity Bait works, and I truly can't fault Google for trying to snag Lady Gaga, who has 11.7 million intimate Twitter followers, more than the 10 million people total using Google+. Though you'd think Shatner would be enough.
The sad thing, though, is that people who follow celebrities on social networking platforms too often fail to realize they're being used. The celebrities are there to market themselves, not find new bestest friends. (In fact, often the celeb's social media engagement is handled by lackeys.) And the social networking platform is mining personal data for the benefit of advertisers.
So the celebrities make money. The social media company makes money.