Did Google+ Copy Diaspora* or Vice Versa?

Diaspora* and Google+.

With the recent launch of Diaspora*, it appears that either Google or Diaspora* were inspired by the other when creating privacy features that let users decide which groups of people to share content with, as Diaspora*'s Aspects are quite similar in functionality to Google+'s Circles.

Earlier this week, Diaspora* posted to its Google+ page, "Why Diaspora looks like Google+? Ask to Google," which is accompanied by an image since Diaspora* has Aspects while Google+ has Circles. [ See image after the jump. ]

"There’s been big news in the social networking world recently, and we can’t help but be pleased with the impact our work has had on two of the biggest developments," the Diaspora* blog stated in September. "We’re proud that Google+ imitated one of our core features, aspects, with their circles."

When Google first launched the Google+ Field Trial in June, they did not hear any claims that they copied Diaspora*, a Google spokesperson tells LAUNCH via email.

"Finally, I would just say that the idea of Circles, or more nuanced sharing capabilities, is not a revolutionary concept," the spokesperson says. "This has been a top feature request for users of social networks for some time. When we sought to build Google+, the first thing we did was listen to users to see what they felt was lacking when it came to sharing online, and this was an obvious top request."

Back in June, the Raven Blog reported that Google+ had a number of similar features from Facebook and Apple, with one key feature ripped off from Diaspora*.

"Google took the best part of Diaspora and made it even better," Raven co-founder Jon Henshaw writes. "Google’s version of Aspects provides a much more intuitive way to interact with your connections. The Stream list view of Circles and the new message interface are much more desirable than what Diaspora currently offers. Google+ also provides a lot more features than Diaspora – features whose only real competition is Facebook and Apple."
However, Pen.io founder Anthony Feint wrote on Hacker News that Google came up with the idea for Circles before Diaspora* had the idea for Aspects.
"Google was kicking around the idea of circles long before Diaspora," Anthony writes on HN. "If anything it was the other way around."

In August 2010, Google added a circles-like feature to Orkut to let users share content with certain groups of friends, while Diaspora* first wrote publicly about Aspects in September 2010.

Google+ launched in private beta in late June, while Diaspora* just launched this month, although it has been under development since early 2010.

What do our readers think? Does it matter more who came up with the idea first or who executed it first?


Screen shot courtesy of Diaspora*'s Google+ page.

Google+ stream.

Diaspora* stream.