Google+ a force after all, just behind Facebook -

While many have mocked Google+ for being an online ghost town, figures from UK market research firm Trendstream show that Google’s social networking service is actually attracting some decent attention.

The figures show that Google+ is now the second largest social network in terms of active users and YouTube, included for the first time in its index, is now third.

The report estimates Facebook's active users in December 2012 at 693 million, Compared to 343 million for Google+.  YouTube is believed to have 280 million.

This mean that, far from lagging in the social not-working line, Google, with its control of Google+ and YouTube, is only 70 million active users behind Facebook.

While Facebook's active users are more active than Google+'s, Google is closing the gap.  It changed its account system last year to merge all of its products, YouTube and Docs included, into singular accounts.

Trend Stream adds that the future of social networking is more passive, less about interacting with friends and more about watching or using social data to navigate and discover the web. This leaves Google with the upper hand in the long term.

While Facebook wants to retain the edge it is starting to look like Google is making inroads with social networks because it can collect data and make it more usable, the report says.