Monday, June 15, 2015

Social Media Privacy and Google Plus

I recently saw an interesting thread about strangers adding you to their circles...

In this thread, a woman named Susan proposed eloquently several reasons why it's not a good idea to allow followers to add you to their circles without approval by you.

"The heavy-using diehards defending this product do not comprise critical mass for Google to support it indefinitely; they won't let it go now, but if it does not resonate with a critical mass, for reasons such as I outlined, about power going to the person desiring the association against the wishes of the person who does not desire such association, it will be the product's undoing. Due to its stubborn insistence to adhere to an ideology that doesn't resonate for many of us. (And with good reason--I could site basic psychological and sociological studies about what conditions makes people feel safe and like contributing---being able to have agency over, or informed consent regarding, who "claims" you is just one factor)."

I feel much the same as this woman who posted in the Gplus experience forum. I just had a stranger add me to their circles who had zero content on any of his Google products. I blocked him because I have no idea what his intent is, and he'd be able to easily get to what I posted publicly, I'd show up as being followed by him, and he'd also be able to know who else is following me.

As an aside, although I can limit what I share publicly on g+, I cannot limit what friends share about me on g+. This alone is enough to gain access to my information. It is also incredibly easy to accidentally post personal information. At least in Facebook these accidental posts can be defaulted to a specific audience. Conversely, every time I post anything to g+ it defaults to public.

I then gave Google feedback asking them to please make an approval process for followers. But like many have found out before, they are not listening. Which is why I will use Google+ for only information I want to make public, like my blog posts, and will continue to do so until this is corrected. To the left is a screenshot of where you can leave feedback on your own g+ account. Click Home, then find Feedback in tiny print at the bottom of the bar. Click and submit to tell Google how you really feel.

In the meantime, if you want to block someone from your circles, go to their g+ page and underneath their name click the tiny arrow "˅". I box will pop up asking you if you want to simply mute, or block them.

Carefully select those you want to block. For instance, my criteria for blocking is:
  • People I do not know who add me to their circles
  • People with zero profile information
  • People who are posting things that I do not want to be associated with
  • People who are badgering me, or spamming me
Remember, you will still show up in their circles, even if you block them, but they will no longer have access to any of your content.

Play nice out there. Social media is fun and educational, as long as we keep our senses about us.