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Google+ now has 100 million monthly active users and 400 million registered users. Let’s all break out the party favors and host a few hangouts!

But wait just a second. The new figures, revealed by Google’s senior veep of engineering Vic Gundotra in a Google+ update this morning, have me scratching my head.

Google reported in June that its 1-year-old social network had reached 150 million active users. Did Google+ actually lose 50 million monthly active users over the summer? That would not be cause for celebration, now, would it? Let’s also not forget that in April of this year, Google said that Google+ had reached 100 million active users. Now I’m getting a case of déjà vu.

So what gives?

The discrepancy in monthly active users looks to be a semantics problem. From what I’ve been able to decipher, Google sees 100 million people visit or Google+ mobile apps each month. The 150 million number, however, is a catch-all figure that applies to all Google+ activity happening across any of Google’s socially enhanced services such as Gmail, search, and YouTube.

Google+ the social network has 100 million monthly active users. Google+ the social layer has 150 million active users. Get? Got it? Good.

Why would Google report two numbers that essentially sound the same but mean two different things? Well, the 100 million monthly active user stat reported today is an achievement that directly addresses critics’ “ghost town” accusations. In essence, Gundotra proved that people — 100 million each month to be exact — intentionally (not by accident, naysayers!) visit Google+ on desktop or mobile to connect with friends, brands, and celebrities.

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