Getting Around Google's Slight: Import Facebook Friends on Google+

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Q: I finally have access to Google+, but I can't test out the service until more of my friends have profiles. Inviting them to join has been made more difficult by Google's decision to leave out an option for importing Facebook friends. What can I do?

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A: Google launched its new social service, Google+, just a few days ago and already the site is considered a success, at least as measured by the number of people signing up. Only hours after opening the invite function, which allowed early members to bring some of their friends into the circle, Google+ had to shut it down because of "insane demand."

But who was being invited? Where were these early members finding friends to invite? Google+ makes it easy, as you can see in the screenshot embedded above, to 'Find and Invite' friends from your Google contacts and even from Yahoo and Hotmail. Members were also able to invite friends using only their email addresses. But something is obviously missing here: Google+ doesn't make it very easy to invite friends from Facebook, which is the one place that would make the most sense. It's the one place where you've actually taken the time to collect and organize your friends and acquaintances; many of the people you follow on Facebook are probably the same people you would first want to follow on Google+.

Google+, though, is a challenger to Facebook -- or at least that's how it's being perceived. Some of the headlines: "Is Google+ Going To Kill Facebook?," "Hangout Is Breakout Feature Of Google+, When Will Facebook Match?," "Can Google+ dethrone Facebook?," "What Google+ does better than Facebook." So Google's decision to make it difficult to import your Facebook contacts into Google+ could be a slight, a little jab at Mark Zuckerberg and his team.

But there's a way around Google's weak barrier. You'll need to set up a Yahoo account if you don't already have one, and log in. From there, you can use Facebook Connect to tie your Yahoo account to your Facebook account. Navigate to Yahoo's contacts page and follow the instructions there to import all of your Facebook friends. (If it's not clear, there are detailed instructions available on the Yahoo! Mail Blog.) Now that all of your Facebook friends are part of your Yahoo contacts, you can head back to Google+ and, from the 'Find and Invite' page displayed above, import them to the new service.

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Image: Google.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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