How to Control Google Plus Privacy Settings

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Although it may never achieve the dominance and global popularity of Facebook, Google+ (Plus) remains an important and influential social network simply based on the fact that it’s from Google. When the company announced a suite of upgrades and design changes for Google Plus in April 2012, it boasted 170 million accounts, although many of those are surely users who have never used the service or visited it only once. 

But Google Plus seems to be here to stay. Google is diligently integrating Google Plus into other products, such as YouTube, search and Gmail.  This unified approach isn’t necessarily a surprise, as in March of 2012, Google made big news with a unified privacy policy that essentially placed all of your online activity done while signed into a user account accessible to the company for the purposes of gathering information for advertising. So while all your Google usage is now governed by one umbrella privacy policy, the company does provide extensively customizable privacy settings in Google Plus.  Here are the specific ways you can learn how to tweak your Google Plus privacy settings to take control of your information. To access these settings, simply click on your name in the upper right, and click on the link called “Privacy.”  Find the settings for Google+ and adjustthese different elements.

Profile

Google Plus allows you to choose which fields and information about you are searchable and that may appear in search results.  You can choose what is available to specific individuals, circles and everyone. 

You can also control who you want to receive notifications from whenever someone shares a post with you, mentions you, invites you to a game or hangout or shares a photo with you.  You can keep this activity within your circle, or choose to allow Extended Circles or Anyone to be able to include you send you these notifications.

Circles

Circles are at the heart of the Google Plus, and are the groups you’ve set up to share different content with.  Even though you’ve given each of these Circles a name, these names are never visible to others, although the Circle itself and its members can be set to appear on your profile.

Circles are groups of people you share content with. The names of your circles and who you add to them are visible only to you, though you can set whether the list of people in all of your circles is visible in your public profile.

One setting you’ll want to make sure to be aware of is which of your circles is included in the “Your Circles” settings.  The default is for everyone, but you can include only specific ones to be included in the blanket “Your Circles” sharing setting.

Sharing

Within each post, you can choose who to make the information available to, whether it be everyone, your connections or certain Circles.  But keep in mind that anyone that post is shared with can not only see all the comments in the post, but can also share it with others.

Photos

Make sure to tweak the settings for photos so you can control who can tag you and what information is provided.  Set your settings here to determine who, if anyone, is allowed to tag you and whether or not you want to attach a location to your photos as they’re uploaded.

You can also tweak notifications to control whether or not you are notified when someone comments on a photo after you did or in a photo you were tagged in.

One other privacy setting for photos on Google Plus involves the use of Google’s facial recognition technology.  You have the choice as to whether to allow Google to try and recognize your face and prompt people you know to tag you.

Hangouts

Each time you start or join a hangout, you check your appearance on screen and adjust your microphone and speaker volume, before you’re visible to others.  Make sure you’re using common sense here, and if you’re joining a hangout that’s not just with friends and families, hide any identifiable or personal items from your background.

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About author

Johner Riehl

Johner Riehl is a freelance writer focusing on families, technology and online safety. As founder and editorial director for FamilyFriendlyApps.com and FamilyFriendlyVideoGames.com, sites that provide reviews and recommendations geared towards families, he examines hundreds of family-friendly games and apps every year. He’s also host of Parent Savers, a podcast aimed at helping parents of newborns, infants and toddlers. TWITTER: @FamilyTechDad

View all posts by Johner Riehl

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