Google is about to launch a social network called Google Plus (+), which allows people with Google profiles to manage their online identity. Most people don’t actually know that their Google profiles are ‘public’ (check out this post). Google wants you to find and connect with others online – if you have a private profile this will not work, so Google will default all profiles to the ‘public’ setting.
Only your full name and gender will be displayed on your profile, and you will be able to edit or remove any other information that you don’t want to share. If you have a ‘private’ profile and do not wish to make your profile to be seen by others, Google suggests you delete your profile. All private profiles will be deleted after July 31st, 2011. Facebook allows users to hide their profiles from others, Google Plus isn’t taking this approach. Social networks don’t work if your profile is private (hidden), but you can certainly control the data that is viewable by friends and others. I suggest you read how to secure your current Google profile.
Google is about to embark on a major integration exercise with Latitude, +1, Google Profiles, Google One Bar, Gmail, Google Chrome and of course the popular mobile open-source platform Android. This will provide Google with some serious data mining potentials, similar to what Facebook has today. Those of you who are concerned about privacy should consider whether Google Plus (aka Circles which allows you to group all your social networks into one- I did chat about social “bubbles” last year – damn :() is going to add any additional value to your online social profile. More importantly you might want to think about just how much data you want to share and how often – right now marketing companies (including Google) will be drooling….
So what problem does Google Plus actually solve, other than collating user profile data / behaviour analytics? Nothing really. Facebook does what most people want, although the privacy controls have become more layered. There is an air of inevitability when it comes to social network privacy – the vendors want to make profiles marketable (as they need to monetize the services they provide) so they make the privacy settings more comprehensive (sometimes hidden beneath multiple pages). Facebook does this and no doubt Google Plus will pursue this.
Safe surfing folks!