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Google+ privacy features are exposed

Exploring Google's social network
Fri Jul 08 2011, 16:55

IT'S A WEEK since Google launched its latest social network project Google+, and The INQUIRER takes a look at its privacy features.

Google Learns From Its Mistakes
Google made some big mistakes with some previous social networking attempts, such as Buzz. Buzz automatically pulled in all email contacts to make followers and showed them to all and sundry, letting everyone in your contact list know about everyone else to whom you'd ever sent email.

As the verbal backlash began Google realised it had made a major mistake and subsequently spent the week or two after Buzz's launch changing how it operated, so that it suggested contacts to follow instead of automatically following them, and it switched the opt-out default to an opt-in mode of operation, which sits far better with people.

Google was even forced to pay $8.5m to settle a lawsuit over the privacy breaches of Buzz.

The problem is that while this issue is mostly resolved Buzz still left a bad taste in many people's mouths, so Google has taken what it learned from this failure on board in how it approaches privacy in Google+.

Google Learns From Facebook's Mistakes
Facebook is the king of social networking, but it's also the king of privacy invasion because of the way it tends to overshare.

Facebook has been widely criticised by privacy groups and even a US Senator for sharing too much, sharing without permission and hiding its privacy options.

Some of the issues Facebook faced included letting app developers gain access to email addresses and phone numbers, letting people read other people's chats, and its infamous use of facial recognition technology for photo tagging.

Facebook resolved some of these problems, but usually only after a very public outcry, which has left it with a bad reputation when it comes to privacy.

It revamped its privacy settings to make them more open and easier to use, but they're still somewhat buried and cumbersome.

Google has taken this to heart by putting privacy at the forefront of its social network and making it as easy as possible to change those privacy settings.


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