Google's receiving mostly warm receptions from Internet geeks, websites and standard users for their new Google+ social networking service. The company learned to use the Internet hype machine perfectly for their purposes to push the service out in the open.
While it is not really clear how we will perceive the service in one year's time, it is fair to say that it is already more successful than Google's last attempt, Google Buzz.
Google Profiles are part of Google+ with options to show or hide profile data. Up until now it was possible to maintain a private profile, which basically meant that no one but the Google account owner could access it.
Google notes that nearly all profiles are public, but that there are some that are not. And it is those that the company targets. In a somewhat surprising move, Google announced that they would delete all private profiles after July 31, 2011.
Users with private Google profiles have two options. They can do nothing which leads to deletion, or they can modify their profile to make at least the full name and gender public.
For that, they have to visit their Google Profile and modify the visibility of those items.
While it is still possible to hide most of the information, and even keep the profile from appearing in search results, it is not possible to block direct access to the profile. Someone on a page with a link to the profile and someone with the direct url could access the profile.
All they might see is the user's name and gender. Especially the mandatory gender display has lead to criticism of Google's move to make all profiles public.
What's the official reasoning for making all Google profiles public? According to Google the purpose of Google Profiles is to "to help people find and connect with you online" which is not possible if a profile is private.
The problem that most users seem to have is related to the public gender issue. Some argued that Google could use the information for advertising, which is a somewhat dubious argument, considering that Google has access to the profile regardless of your privacy settings.
I find it rather strange that less users seem to have a problem with their full name appearing on the profile, which in most cases can easily be used to identify the user's gender. The only real problem I see is the Other option. But then again, one does not have to select other at all. Some won't because of fear of discrimination.
What's your take on this development? And what does your profile's visibility look like currently?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.