Google+ privacy issues

Ongoing list of Google+ privacy issue.

Google+ is still in the testing phase so things are constantly changing. Here is a list of ongoing privacy issues. Please suggest new entries in the comment section.

The biggest discussions are centered around photo privacy. There are multiple issues.

  1. Be careful what you include in albums when tagging a single photo. When you tag someone in a photo, that person is notified and given a link to that photo but they will also have access to your entire album, not just that single photo.
  2. Joining Google+ changes the privacy settings of your Picasa albums. You’ve recently joined Google+. Note the following changes to Picasa Web Albums:
    • Albums you’ve shared can in turn be tagged and shared by others.
    • For new albums, anyone an album is shared with can see who else it is shared with.
    • When you tag someone, they receive a notification and can see the photo and the related album.

    Learn More

  3. Albums you share within your circle can be reshared with those outside your circle if someone in your circle reshares them.
  4. Using Chat may expose your email address. Users are warned when they enable Chat for the first time. When you appear in someone’s chat list in Google+, it’s possible that person could discover your email address. While your email address won’t be displayed in the chat list in Google+, it is displayed in the chat lists of other Google products (Gmail and iGoogle, for instance). The members of chat lists are consistent across Google products.
  5. Email address may show in auto-complete field when adding someone to a stream update. Discuss.
  6. Geo location in photo’s exif will be displayed if ‘show geo location’ is enabled. I suspect this will become a problem for Google. Facebook specifically hides exif data for privacy reasons. Let’s say Jane is being stalked by an ex-boyfriend or some unknown stranger. She now lives in an unknown city. Her friend takes a picture of her with a gps enabled phone and uploads it to a public album and labels it ‘Great party at Jane’s house’. Now everyone will know exactly where Jane lives. Read more. Discuss.
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  • I would add an additional privacy concern to the list:

    Anyone can add me as a friend and publicly display me as their friend. In some cases this could seriously damage a person’s image even though it gives the affected user the ability to hide “who’s added me” and also raises concern since even people who are not members of Google are listed as friends when I try to invite people. With some people I wouldn’t want to publicly display even their names without their permission so it makes me uneasy that I don’t have the option to only display friends who have accepted me as their friend on Google+

    • People who add you to your circles is not your friend. If you don’t add them to any circles, they are simply your fan. You cannot stop anyone from listing you in a fan list. They can follow you on Twitter as a fan. They can create a blog and say they are your fan. They can write it on a piece of paper and tape it to the fridge and say they are your fan. You having fans is not a privacy issue. If you don’t add them to your circle, they know the same thing about you before and after they add you.

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