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New study suggests Google Plus’ active usage may be much lower

Are you still not using Google Plus? Don’t feel bad, because not a lot of people are, it seems. As a social network, it isn’t a surprise that Google Plus (stylized as Google+) hasn’t taken off to match Facebook levels, since it went live almost four years ago. But a new study makes a strong case for even weaker interest in Google Plus, despite being tied to what is the biggest name on the Internet. Google’s own numbers claim that approximately 300 million users are active on Google Plus’ social networking stream, yet an independent analysis tells a different story.

A mid-April study by Stone Temple Consulting, a digital marketing agency, concludes that fewer than 1 percent of Google’s 2.2 billion users are active on Google Plus. Conducted by Eric Enge, Stone Temple’s CEO, the study looked at approximately 500,000 randomly picked Google Plus profiles.

When Enge extrapolates this number across Google’s 2.2 billion user base. He arrives at just 111 million users that have “active profiles,” which is about 0.5 percent of all Google users. The results get even more interesting when he looks at the numbers further still: Of those 111 million users, just 6.7 million have at least 50 posts ever while just 3.5 million have at least 50 posts in the last 30 days of the study.

Enge determined that some 90 percent of people with a Google Plus profile never made a public post. This is expected, though, given that people create a Google Plus profile automatically when signing up with Google, and the Google Plus universe encompasses more than just the social networking stream.

Related: Will Google Plus Challenge Pinterest?

Because of this small percentage of users, rumors of Google Plus being shut down have been around since at least 2014. With Google’s announcement this March that Google Plus would be viewed as individual parts as opposed to a single unit, speculation of the social networking site’s disbandment has intensified. If accurate, Stone Temple’s study provides statistical proof of a big reason that Google may want to pull support from its social networking site and split it into distinct parts like stream, communications and photos.

Google hasn’t officially declared that Google Plus is being abandoned. However, it’s increasingly looking at the service not as a social networking site that competes with Twitter and Facebook, but more of a supporting portal to products like Hangout and Photo that Google believes in more. However, Google has never been shy in pulling the plug on products.