/// E-Invites to the Social Network Events of 2012
Invitations have come a long way since the days of paper cards and phone RSVPs. Their digital incarnations range from Evites to eye-catching Paperless Posts to apps that run on smartphones. When Facebook got in on the party, it started letting its users organize events by inviting one another. [ See post to watch video ] Over the summer, Google announced that it, too, was jumping into the digital invitation space with the addition of Events to its Google+ social network. Google+ Events offers handsome stationery with picturesque still and animated images. It also has a cool way of integrating with Android phones: A Party Mode lets guests share all the photos they take during the party with other guests. But some people may not be ready to use social networks for event invitations. Facebook Events can only be sent to other Facebook users, and while Google+ Events can be sent to anyone via email, they only offer non-Google+ users a passive view of the event page. Events in social networks make people nervous they’ll accidentally broadcast their agendas to 400 “friends” by responding to an invitation or get caught lying about their whereabouts. And hosts may worry their event might not stand out in a busy social network. For the past week, I’ve planned events in Google+ Events and Facebook Events to see what each offers in the way of privacy, host privileges, photo-uploading capabilities and ease of use. I’ve asked friends for feedback and it turns out most people aren’t completely sure of the privacy settings in either network. The biggest challenge I faced with Google+ Events is that hardly any of my friends use Google’s social network on a regular basis, if at all, and several of them had trouble responding to my event. And these are tech-savvy people who regularly use other social networks. Another point of confusion: Google+ has a feature that lets a reply to an email containing something shared from the network instantly appear in Google+. This also applies to events, so when two of my friends hit “reply” to my event’s email invitation, their responses appeared on the wall of the Google+ Event page, for all invitees to see. But they weren’t counted as attending if they hadn’t opened the invitation and selected “Yes,” “Maybe” or “No.” Though both Facebook and Google+ offer the option to make your event public (think school bake sale), they also offer varying degrees of privacy. Facebook Events can be set as public or only visible to friends, those invited or specific Facebook groups. Google+ Events can be public or shared only with those who are invited, which can mean individual names of friends or entire Circles (groups) of people.
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E-Invites to the Social Network Events of 2012