Google+, Day 15: A Closer Look at Google+ Privacy

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30 Days With Google+: Day 15

One of the most appealing aspects of Google+ for many users is privacy. Many feel Facebook has been too cavalier when it comes to sharing personal information, and that Google is a better steward of sensitive data. For today's 30 Days With Google+ entry, I am taking a closer look at some of the privacy aspects of Google+.

The Circles concept that is at the core of Google+ is intended to help users maintain more control over privacy. Each time I post something on Google+, I have to select which Circles to share the information with, so I can choose on a post by post basis whether to share with all of my Circles, or restrict the post to a specific Circle or Circles.

On Day 4 I explained: "For example, explaining that I won't be going in to work Monday can have very different meanings depending on the Circle. I might want to let my "co-workers" Circle know that I'm not feeling very well and won't make it in, and then let my "friends" Circle know that I'll meet them at the beach, and I'm bringing the beer."

I can disable resharing in Google+, but only after I post the information and risk it being reshared.
There is a potential problem, though, where the Circles overlap and interconnect. What happens if I have a friend who also has one of my co-workers in a Circle, and my friend chooses to share the post--maybe to make some comment about what kind of beer I should bring? If my friend is not careful, he could end up cross-posting my beach party plans to my co-worker who thinks I am home sick. That could get sticky.

There are two things that will help minimize or eliminate this risk. The first is that when my friend goes to share the post that I sent only to my "friends" Circle, he will get a pop-up message reminding him that I posted to a limited audience and to exercise some discretion in who that information is subsequently shared with.

That might help, but it won't prevent the friend from dismissing the message and sharing it anyway. The good news is that I can block my post from being shared. At the upper right of each post is a little arrow. I can click it, and then select "Disable Reshare" from the dropdown menu.

My only issue with this is that Google+ only lets me disable resharing after the fact. If my friend is online and acts quick, he may have already shared the post before I click on the arrow and disable resharing. Google+ should provide some way for me to mark a post with reshare disabled before I post it my Circle(s) in the first place.

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