Google+ Privacy, Notifications, What You Should Check

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 3, 2011
Updated • Dec 15, 2014

I received my Google+ invite this morning and have been playing around with Google's "answer" to Facebook since then. The thing that I like about it most is the circles feature which allows you to create groups of friends or contacts.

One of the problems that Facebook currently has is that you do not have a group feature there, which means that your status updates reach all your friends automatically. Not good if you use Facebook both for business and pleasure. (Update: this changed in recent time and is no longer the case)

On Google+, all you need to do is to create a circle for business and one for friends to separate the news stream for those groups.

I have not really seen many privacy related posts yet. This was actually one of the first things I did after signing in for the first time and creating a few sample circles.

If you are in a hurry, skip the following part and go right to Google+ Privacy in a minute or less at the end of the guide.

Google+ Privacy

Update: You need to open the Google Plus Settings page in a different way now. Either open it directly under or click on the cog wheel icon while on Google Plus and select Settings from the context menu. All options discussed below are accessible on that page.

  1. Who can interact with you and your posts - Defines who can send you notifications and who can comment on your public posts.
  2. Who can hangout with you - Defines which groups can use the Hangout feature with you and which cannot.
  3. Receive Notifications - This section on the page lists email and phone notifications for specific activities.
  4. Apps & Activities - This controls who can see your Google and third-party activities.
  5. Your circles - Allows you to block updates to specific circles.

The majority of information below are still valid, only the way to access them has changed. Update End

Click on your name in the upper right corner of the screen and select Account from the context menu. Switch to Google+ to access the notification preferences.


All notifications are enabled by default and usually linked to the primary email address of the Google+ user. I suggest you look at the notification settings and modify them according to your needs. If you do not want to receive notifications at all, disable everything on that screen.

Update: The following preference is handled on the profile page now. Visit your profile on Google Plus and click on the Edit button listed there underneath modules. This opens options to modify privacy related settings there. To edit the visibility of your circles for example, click on edit underneath people to do so.


Here you can block the display of some or all circles, and decide if the public or only your circles can see the information.

Update end:

Once you are done switch to the Profile and privacy tab where all privacy related settings are found. The page links to a lot of subpages which makes configuration a lot harder than it should be.

The first thing that you may want to do is to click on the Edit visibility on profile button near the top to modify the public profile information.

google profiles

This loads your Google profile in edit mode. Just click on an entry that you want to check. Do not want your circles to appear on your public profile? Click there and modify the settings accordingly. You can disable showing of your circles completely or hide only some circles from the public Google profile.

google circles

The icons in front of each entry indicate that item's visibility:

A ball indicates that the item is visible to everyone, a circle that it is only visible to the user's circle, and a link icon that it is visible to the extended circle (aka friends of friends on Facebook).

Update: The sharing functionality is now managed with a click on customize under Your circles on the main settings page. There you can uncheck circles that you don't want to share new posts, photos and other things with if you select the "your circles" option when posting to the site.

your circles

Update End:

Once you are done editing go back to the Profile and Privacy settings.

Sharing lists a second group on the page. It actually does not offer that many configuration settings but links to certain features of Google+

The sharing defaults are set to the following according to Google:

Each time you post content, you specify the circles and individuals you want to share it with. For convenience, new posts default to the last set of people you shared a post with, but you can change that before you post.

google+ sharing

Each post lists an indicator that is summarizing who that post is shared with.

Manage circles leads to the circle management window where you can create, edit and delete circles and move contacts around.

Edit Network Visibility opens the profile editor once more where you can edit the public display of your circles and users who have added you to their circles.

View incoming posts opens all incoming messages of users who have added you to their circles but who are not in yours.

Google+ is the third group under Privacy settings. Here you can configure photo tagging settings and configure your interests.

google+ tagging

Edit photo settings loads the Google+ notification settings again which we have accessed at the very beginning. You can modify photo related tagging settings at the very bottom of the screen.

Sparks lets you select activities, news or items that you are interested in.

The last group on the screen Google Privacy links to Google account related privacy settings.

All privacy settings of Google+ are handled more or less on two screens. The different links on the Profile and Privacy configuration page is somewhat confusing.

Google+ Privacy in a minute or less

Here is what you need to do to configure your Google+ privacy settings in less than a minute.

Open your profile on Google Plus and click on edit underneath each module displayed to you. This opens management options including whether you want that module to be displayed on your profile page. Modify the settings as you see fit, save the new preferences and use the "view profile as" option at the top of the page to view the profile as a public user.  This highlights everything that public users see when your profile is opened.

Once done with that, click on Home > Settings and manage the "receive notifications", "who can interact with you and your posts", "who can Hangout with you" and "Your circles" preferences listed on that page.

Et voila, you have successfully configured your Google+ privacy settings.

Posting Status Updates

When you post a status update you are asked to add circles or people that you want to share that update with. The settings here define who is able to see your status update. It is therefor important to make the right selection on that screen.

google+ status visibility

Have anything to add? Let me know in the comments. You can also post if you want me to try the "invite trick" to get you invited into Google+ (please note that it is not working all the time though).

Google+ Privacy, Notifications, What You Should Check
Article Name
Google+ Privacy, Notifications, What You Should Check
A detailed summary of all privacy related settings on Google Plus including explanations what they do and how to manage the preferences.

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  1. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:33 pm

    “Do you use Google Photos?”

    I do; I find it impossible not to use Google Photos on the Android phone; nevertheless, the “memory” feature is sort of neat. I’ve seen photos from a couple of years ago that that offer glimpses into the long-ago, forgotten past. It’s a lot like reviewing journal writing. “What was I doing and such and such a date?”

    And, I think, when the “memories” are sorted and positioned, one can create a mini-collage with up to eight photos.

    It’s so much easier to share photos with people rather than journal entries.


  2. John G. said on August 16, 2023 at 8:57 pm

    I delete the photos after 1 month of being taken. All of them are erased to return to the black and silent nothingness. Only the best ones are printed and placed in a very nice site at home. :]

    1. Anonymous said on September 15, 2023 at 10:33 am

      I should buy a Chromebook.
      None of the big tech companies are good but at least Google are the least dishonest and morally bankrupt of them. They’re always trying to do the right thing if the money allow it.

  3. Tachy said on August 19, 2023 at 5:15 pm

    In reply to “” since the website has gone insane and no one can know where thier comment ends up.

    This app should be called “Google Keeps it”. Because, they do.

    I use Color Notes. No syncing, no internet, just local.

  4. said on August 22, 2023 at 3:19 pm

    The article said: “[…] positive outcomes of genocide…”. Perhaps the AI was actually discussing the benefits of reading a “Scroll of genocide” … “You feel dead inside.”.

    Martin, this post reply is supposed to belong: [] (given the the database is faulty it could appear anywhere or nowhere).

  5. John said on August 22, 2023 at 3:46 pm

    I have yet to be impressed with AI of any kind. I think it’s overhyped and not ready to live up to it.

  6. Seeprime said on August 22, 2023 at 8:36 pm

    How to use AI: Avoid the artificial stupidity at all times.

  7. Richard Steven Hack said on August 23, 2023 at 3:54 am

    “When searched “Why guns are good,” it also prompted questionable responses, including potentially questionable statistics and reasoning. ”

    Based on whose reasoning? These sorts of assertions are generally bullcrap intended to advance an agenda. If you don’t like guns, say so. Meanwhile, there are 400 million firearms in the US owned by close to a third of the population and around 20 million carry concealed.

    So your opinion is not shared by a LOT of people who either enjoy firearm spots or are concerned about self-defense or both.

    1. Seeprime said on August 31, 2023 at 10:07 pm

      Wow. Ghacks still hasn’t fixed the broken comments system where old comments from a different article appear. Sad to see you slowly turn to dust since the buyout.

      1. owl said on September 1, 2023 at 3:40 am


        For over two weeks now,
        I’ve been seeing “Comments” posted by subscribers appearing in different, unrelated articles.
        For the time being,
        it would be better to specify the “article name and URL” at the beginning of the post.

      2. Kirk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:08 pm

        This guns comment came up in the Pixel watch repair post and I was bewildered as to what was the connection between the two.

  8. gogo said on August 23, 2023 at 5:12 am

    goog = skynet
    “human beings” = \slaves\

  9. no said on August 23, 2023 at 3:51 pm

    This info is so NOT correct.
    I so do not want google in my life that I have NEVER downloaded chrome and I do NOT have ANY google accounts.
    My browser is set to clear all cookies, cache and history every time I close it, which is every day, and I still get these world takeover login prompts on every site I go to.
    So I CANT go to google accounts and turn it off.
    If this info were truly accurate I wouldnt be getting these pop ups AT ALL.

  10. John G. said on August 31, 2023 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks @Ashwin for the article! :]

  11. Scroogled said on September 1, 2023 at 11:31 pm

    Anyone who continues to use these big tech scum’s cloud services deserves what they get.

  12. Tom Hawack said on September 4, 2023 at 2:44 pm

    Given Ghacks’ comments’ database problems I precise :
    I’m commenting the article “Google is in trouble with YouTube Shorts – gHacks Tech News” by Emre Çitak
    at []

    About the article’s question, “What do you think about YouTube Shorts?” (BTW first time I read here any other writer other than Martin Brinkmann directly asks the audience it’s opinion, and that’s just fine) :

    YouTube Shorts may suit smartphones (which I don’t use) but on a PC they are not my cup of tea, to put it mildly.
    From what I read a bit everywhere, opinions are shared : love or hate. For those who dislike many scripts and dedicated browser extensions have been developed to handle them (removal or redirect to standard video display).

    I don’ view YouTube videos on YouTube but via a Piped or a Piped-Material YouTube front-end instance and these offer on search results and on channels the option to view Videos-Shorts-Livestreams-Playlists-Channels ; well, I practically never open the ‘Shorts’ display. I don’t like shorts (except in summer, hmm), I dislike the concept, fast-videos after fast-food, fast, faster … to bring what? Emptiness, IMO

    Does that answer your question, @Emre Çitak :)

  13. ECJ said on September 4, 2023 at 3:17 pm

    I despise YouTube Shorts. So much in fact, I use custom adblock rules in Brave Shields to remove that crap.[href*=”shorts”])[href*=”shorts”])

    1. Anonymous said on September 5, 2023 at 6:28 am

      There’s an extension for Firefox and Chrome browsers called “Youtube-shorts block”, re-opens the video in a normal window. :)

      ps. say NO to Shorts, it only encourage shooting vertical-videos which doesn’t go well with many desktop displays… except when shooting vertical objects, such as ahem… pretty ladies. :)

  14. RG said on September 4, 2023 at 5:02 pm

    Page source shows that ghacks is still using WordPress as the platform. Knowing, more or less, how it works at the DB level I am not sure how one could mess up comments this badly. It is actually very difficult.

  15. John G. said on September 4, 2023 at 6:14 pm

    Google is the big leader of everything. Indeed it can actually buy Amazon, Disney, Netflix, X and whatever other company. I wonder what could happen if Google starts to build airspace ships in order to conquer the Moon. I bet that Google would be the first to offer free WiFi at the Moon. Please fix the comments.

    This comment is inside the article:

  16. DC said on September 11, 2023 at 10:52 am

    This “analysis” is disappointingly shallow and trivial. Why not include other factors like job level, responsibilities, full-time/part-time, qualifications, etc.? Because the conclusions probably wouldn’t fit the current leftist/feminist narrative. You don’t find what you don’t look for.

  17. said on September 11, 2023 at 11:42 am

    Misleading statistics.

  18. Kris said on September 12, 2023 at 9:10 pm

    Wage should be based on the amount of time, works, thinking (brain > muscle), responsibilities etc

    Not skin pigmentation or your genitalia. There could be correlations, but not causations.

  19. Anonymous said on September 14, 2023 at 4:36 pm

    “Google maintains that it provides a superior product”

    That is also Mozilla’s official position in defense of Google against the people, on that question of search engine abuse of dominant position by Google.

    The funniest part is that not only it’s false regarding actual competitors, but even among not-actual-competitors there are meta-search engines that use exactly the same engine, just minus the tracking, so Google is clearly the inferior one compared to those already. But maybe what Google is saying is that it is the surveillance and bubbling that would make their engine superior. False again even without considering the damage those do.

  20. bruh said on September 15, 2023 at 10:17 am

    “Google increases Chromebook support to 10 years”

    I mean that’s great and all, but imagine using a browser-based, highly internet-dependent OS such as chrome. I’ve never used chromeOS but have seen it in person and read about it, just seems like ultra-limited user experience which relies on the concept that “most things can be done in a browser”.

  21. Anonymous said on September 15, 2023 at 11:11 pm

    What is there to support? It just a glorified web browser.

  22. Anonymous said on September 24, 2023 at 5:18 pm

    “Google launched Chromebooks in 2012 as low-cost devices and the company has had great success in the education world, especially in the United States.”

    Happy tracking for all those unsuspecting children. And help normalize surveillance for those young brains. Well done Google.

  23. Ich bin nur ein Verlierer said on September 27, 2023 at 4:50 pm

    No, AltaVista’s Search engine wasn’t difficult to use in the mid-nineties, and Yahoo didn’t own AltaVista either during the 1990s. Yahoo!, was a Web Directory. I was alive then and have actually used those engines, during that era, I should know if they were easy to use. So tell the angels what you’ve seen, scarecrow shadow on the Nazarene.

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