article 1311180558203 0D17112E00000578 100424 304x276 - Google+ approaches 18m users
Google+ is thought to be approaching 18million users just three weeks after its launch, as reports emerge the search giant is drawing up a 'celebrity acquisition plan' to harness the power of Twitter-style verified accounts on the site. co-founder Paul Allen posted his analysis of the growth of the social network on his own Google+ account this week, complete with a nifty graph illustration.
Though he predicted that the search giant’s Facebook competitor would reach 18million users this week, he noted that the social network's growth rate has dropped by 50 per cent from its peak.
'Last week we saw two days where more than 2million signed up in a single day,' he remarked in his post on Tuesday. 'If that rate had continued, Google+ would have reached 20million users by last Sunday night.

'But the last four days have averaged only 948,000 new users, and [Monday] the site added only 763,000. [Monday's] growth of 4.47 per cent was the slowest viral growth since Google opened up invites back on July 6.'
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Allen notes that, in addition to lacking promotion on or by any of Google's other sites, Google+ is still invite-only, possibly explaining the plateau.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, the most followed Google+ user with his 250,000+ fans, has yet to actually post anything on his account.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned 'celebrity acquisition plan' is expected to include a process to verify the identities of high-profile Google+ users as they sign up, thereby stopping people from creating fake celeb profiles.
Brett Schulte, a Hollywood consultant who says he has talked about the project with Google, suggests a button similar to Twitter's 'verified' logo may feature on such accounts.
This week, one-time Star Trek actor William Shatner found himself temporarily locked out of his Google+ account for allegedly 'violating standards'.
Some commentators speculated Google+ may have considered him to be an impersonator, but the site has not divulged its reasons for kicking him out.
Shatner sent a message via his account later, however: 'I am back plusers. I still do not know what happened but I will refrain from saying hello again for a while just in case. My best, Bill.'
Zuckerberg also briefly disappeared from the site last week, reappearing a short while later.