In the wake of privacy uproars about pretty much everything, Google’s taken steps to ensure Google Docs meets the highest possible standards. This afternoon, the company introduced three easy-to-understand (and easy-to-set) document visibility options.
Here’s the most important thing to know: documents are private by default. Documents’ visibility settings are now located right next to their titles, too, making them easy to confirm at any point in time.
As for what other visibility settings are available, one is called "Anyone with the link," and it follows the example set by YouTube’s unlisted videos. A post on the Google Docs Blog explained, "If you set your doc to ‘Anyone with the link,’ it’s like an unlisted phone number. In the same way that anyone who knows an unlisted phone number can call it, anyone who knows the web address or URL of that doc can view it."
Then the third setting – "Public" – is as open as it gets. "Public on the web allows anyone the ability to find and access that particular doc on the web," the post continued. "For example, you could create a flyer for a concert, save it as a public doc, post a link to it on your blog. Public docs are automatically indexed by search engines like Google, so they may appear in search results as well."
These updates could go a ways towards addressing people’s concerns about storing their data in the cloud. Or if not, they should at least make things a little simpler for the current crop of Google Docs users.