Google to disable public sharing of private posts in Google+


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Not even a week old, Google+ is a work in progress, and Google is making changes to the social network with the intention of improving it before it goes public -- which includes closing up a privacy loophole that has left some users a bit confused.

A main feature of Google+ is the ability to share with set ‘Circles’ of friends -- such as just co-workers, just family, or just old school buddies.


But the privacy of sharing to Circles was called into question earlier this week when it was discovered that anyone can share publicly a post that was meant to be private by its original sender.

Google got the message and is working on a fix that should roll out over the next week that will keep intended items private, said Kelly Ellis, a software engineer at the Mountain View, Calif., company who is working on the new social network.

Ellis announced the change in a video shared publicly Friday on Google+, while also mentioning changes to what shows up at the top of a user’s ‘stream’ of posts from friends.

‘We’re making changes all the time but today we wanted to call out two changes in particular,’ Ellis said. ‘First, while many of you loved the option to share others’ posts, some of you weren’t quite sure how it worked. Commenting and sharing on posts can always be disabled and the next time you post you’ll see a tip that describes how to do this.

‘And starting next week limited posts will not be shareable publicly. This is really important to us. On google+ you should be in control of who sees your posts.’

Users can disable the resharing of their posts by clicking a small grey arrow in the corner of a post to bring up a menu that gives them the option to ‘disable reshare.’


‘Second, while many of you love the constant activity in your streams some of you are seeing the same posts again and again,’ Ellis said. ‘We hear you and we’re rolling out a few experiments that display posts with activity from the people you’re close to.’

In the video, Ellis didn’t explain how Google+ would be figuring out who a user is close to or not -- which could possibly result in another privacy concern if left unexplained when the updates arrive. A Google spokesman said the search giant declined to go into detail about the experimental upcoming feature.

‘We’re rolling these changes out over the long weekend so expect to see them soon,’ she said. ‘Thanks again for all the great feedback –- keep it coming.’

[Updated 2:48 pm.: This post was updated to add a comment from a Google spokesman who said the company isn’t yet talking about how an upcoming experimental feature will work. The upcoming feature will sort items shared into the Google+ Steam by who a user is ‘close to.’]


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles