This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication - Western Union memo, 1876
INTERNET ADVERTISING BROKER Google has made some changes to Gmail and Google+ that will let any user of either service email other users without actually knowing their email address.
This does not sound wonderful. Google is pitching it as being a good thing that saves people who want to email other people without knowing them well enough to have their email address some time and hassle.
"Have you ever started typing an email to someone only to realize halfway through the draft that you haven't actually exchanged email addresses? If you are nodding your head 'yes' and already have a Google+ profile, then you're in luck, because now it's easier for people using Gmail and Google+ to connect over email," said Google product manager David Nachum.
"As an extension of some earlier improvements that keep Gmail contacts automatically up to date using Google+, Gmail will suggest your Google+ connections as recipients when you are composing a new email."
Fortunately users can choose to opt out of this, and with concerns about privacy, not to mention trolling, on the rise, it is likely that many people will go for this option.
Nachum also explained how to invoke the privacy shield, pointing users at their Gmail settings options.
"These emails work a bit differently so that your email address is only shared with the people you want. Your email address isn't visible to a Google+ connection unless you send that person an email, and likewise, that person's email address isn't visible to you unless they send you an email," he added. "You control whether people can reach you this way with a new setting in Gmail."
The Gmail inbox will make a distinction between messages, and will only put emails from people who you do know into your Primary folder. Anyone not in your Google+ Circles will be sending their missives into your Social folder.
The feature is rolling out now. When you get it you should also get an email with a link to the on/off and in/out settings. The new opt-out feature comes on the heels of a fine that the French Data Protection Agency CNIL levied on Google over account privacy settings changes. µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ