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A Google Plus Privacy Flaw Already?

Are we asking Google too much in regards to privacy? Do we have some personal responsibility with the platforms we use?

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That’s why it’s in beta format, right? Apparently, the sharing/contact issue that plagued Google Buzz is also apart of the Google Plus experience, at least according to reports. We can’t rely verify whether or not the issue exists or was corrected due to the invitation-only status Google Plus maintains.

The privacy issue with Google Plus was discovered by Tim Bradshaw with FT Tech Hub, and while he says it’s not as severe as the Google Buzz issue that resulted in Google shutting the function off altogether, the resharing option stains Google’s approach of making their social platform one that respects privacy. The issue has to do with the resharing feature, which, once selected, shares with everyone in your Google Plus circle. That’s fine if it’s something you want to share, but what if it’s something the original sharer wanted to remain between the people they shared it with? Bradshaw has more:

Say a close friend of mine posts a picture of her kids to her “friends” Circle. With the “share” option on every Google+ post, I can reshare this with absolutely anyone, from another Circle to which my friend does not belong, right through to making it completely public. The same loophole applies not just to photos but to any kind of post, as far as I can tell.

If she’d known about this risk (and how would she?), my friend could have disabled resharing using the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of every post, but it doesn’t seem to be possible to do this before she’d already published it. Google+ also, for now, lacks any way to turn off resharing of all your posts from within its privacy settings.

As for the last point, it’s reasonable to think that’s something Google could address quite easily, so if there’s any kind of outcry, they probably will. Furthermore, if someone wants something to remain private, or between friends only, why share it in what essentially becomes a public forum. Direct messages — or whatever Google calls Plus’ private mail service between members — work much better if you’re wanting to keep something relatively quiet.

Sharing across networks is one of the appealing natures of social media platforms, or at least it is until someone actually sees the power of these networks and finds their content in places they’d never imagine. One could even argue the entire concept of social Internet use goes against the concept of privacy, so temper your expectations accordingly, but then again, warnings never seem to work out very well. People want reactive measures more than they preventive ones.

According to Bradshaw’s report, Google has been informed of the loophole his post discusses and has responded, saying that’s what the invitation-only period is for, finding and correcting bugs like this one. Bradshaw finishes his report by discussing the fine line between privacy and sharing, while saying Google needs to balance the two. This is where he and I disagree for the simple fact that “user beware” and “personal responsibility” come into play.

Is it Google’s job to teach members how to use Plus’ privacy settings or is the member, one who likely joined quite willingly, have a level of responsibility in knowing what will and won’t happen when they hit the share button?

A Google Plus Privacy Flaw Already?
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  • http://www.dragonblogger.com Persian Poetess

    To be honest any social network has these kind of loopholes. All a person with questionable intentions has to do is save the picture to their computer and repost it. If that doesn’t work they can also screenshot the page and crop the picture out. Still, I do see the merit in what you are suggesting. I’m not sure how much it would combat every possible leak though.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Richardson

      Exactly that. Knowing what a platform will and won’t do a pretty important thing to do before putting your life on display should be a prerequisite…

    • Tyler

      Nope! It’s a privacy loophole! Panic mode engage!!
      Derpity derp derp.

    • The point is

      1. The ease of resharing, allows for resharing to happen at massively larger scale than is possible with a manual picture repost.

      2. This increases the probability for a person (with bad intentions) to receive such contents by several times.

      The point is not to plug all possible leaks. The point is to not make it easier. Plus, all it takes is to give an option, “Do not allow reshare”.

  • Awesome Bro

    Are you stupid? This applies to every other social networking site, including Facebook. Think about it: I can re-post any of my friend’s pictures if I wanted to. You are a dumb pice of shit.

    • Awesome Bro

      You’re fucking awesome bro. I wish I was you. Except you typo-ed “piece of shlt.” You dumbass.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Richardson

      LOL, who knew Google Plus would bring out the Internet tough guys?

  • T

    There’s an option in the dropdown menu (on the right side of posts) that says “Disable Reshare”

    Do your research…

    • Chris

      I did:

      my friend could have disabled resharing using the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of every post, but it doesn’t seem to be possible to do this before she’d already published it. Google+ also, for now, lacks any way to turn off resharing of all your posts from within its privacy settings.

      Do your reading…

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7otS79_rBCM Roe

        Don’t you love these idiots that think they can do their job better than you? Hahaha…

        Almost as bad as the morons who write “How is this news?” in every freakin’ news article that isn’t about war or the economy.

  • Tete

    I didn’t even read this article past the first paragraph. Google just frightens me to death. About two months ago I deleted all my messages in my two Gmail accounts and won’t use those accounts ever again. I’m afraid Google one day will get crazy and share any private info. with any of my contacts or new project. I installed “Adblock” to block ads on the web and “NoScript” to block Google Analytics. Google is very scary.

  • http://www.FreeGunInfo.com Adsense Publisher

    I agree that Google needs to have a very clear way of only sharing things with whom you intend to share it with, and those people shouldn’t have the right to then share it out with others unless you have allowed it. Once posted, you should be able to reset the sharing rights of any of your content. I mean it’s yours, so for Google not to have a way to reset the sharing rights is a goof up on their part. I’m glad they’re not opening this to everybody and getting feedback before they open the doors fully so that they can correct mistakes like that.

  • http://www.onlymeworld.com eri

    There’s one that exists MUCH greater than Google+ and Facebook. Who? OnlyMeWorld. Don’t let the name throw you off; it has the potential to be bigger than the above-mentioned. Why? With all the problems that exist from such sites affecting the users PRIVACY, it is only right to have a social network that won’t sell your information, recognize your FACE, make money off your site, and ask for every other piece of information you have to your name. I’m sorry but I don’t feel the need to verify my Facebook account with my PHONE NUMBER, do you? And the new Google+ share circle–NO. Even if you post something intended for just YOU and a FRIEND, you click that little circle and off it goes shared to the worldwide web. Even if it’s set to private! Though you probably know the same goes for facebook.

    OnlyMeWorld.com –I love this site. I DID NOT need to use any of my real information to create the account, not even a real email. And an extra bonus is the ability to place Google Adsense Ads on your personal site and actually YOU–yes YOU, the user, gets paid for it! GENIOUS!! That and the geek within me loves the Games, Blogs, Video Chat etc…all in one place…

  • Jack

    If you think anything you do online is private then you must not understand how the internet works. The web is based on what you do, how you do it, when you do it and why you did it.. combine all these and you got enough data and algo to do anything you wish.. Personally, I use google to find out things about the girls i date.. since Google likes to take everything about you and create a unique search result, once in a while I ask my girl if i can use her computer, then i do a few search for keywords and watch what ads and websites come up.. and there you go, a way to use Google privacy flaw to your benefit..

  • Rohan Chandane

    When one post on stream, there is an option for ‘disable reshare’..

  • http://www.albwasil.com albwasil

    Thank you

    great post

    برامج مجانية

  • http://billdietrich.byethost8.com/ Bill Dietrich

    I’d like to get your feedback about a page I’ve created, about the good and bad features of Facebook and how they should fix it: http://billdietrich.byethost8.com/Facebook.html Some of the issues and ideas may apply to Google+ also. Thanks.

  • Nicole

    “but it doesn’t seem to be possible to do this before she’d already published it”

    That sentence doesn’t even make sense. This article seems like it wasn’t very well researched, because that option has been available the entire time (at least, I noticed it on my first day which was July 1). It just sounds like your friends need to learn more about Google+ features, not that Google+ itself is lacking in that particular area.

  • http://jgo.ro jgo

    Analytics+Adsense+Gmail+TheSearchEngine+GooglePlus
    they all track what you do online and who is your friend.

    Google wants to control every piece of your web experience. This sounds very dangerous to me.