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No private profiles for Google+ users, company says

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Google will not allow any private profiles on its new social network, Google+, reports Greg Finn at Search Engine Land. All private profiles that have already been created will be deleted after July 31, according to the Google+ help page.

While most aspects of a Google+ user’s profile can be as private as he or she likes, Google’s terms state that a person’s full name and gender will be made public, with no option to hide this information. This stipulation is clearly stated on the “public profiles” section of the Google+ website. It reads:

The purpose of Google Profiles is to enable you to manage your online identity. Today, nearly all Google Profiles are public. We believe that using Google Profiles to help people find and connect with you online is how the product is best used. Private profiles don’t allow this, so we have decided to require all profiles to be public.

Keep in mind that your full name and gender are the only required information that will be displayed on your profile; you’ll be able to edit or remove any other information that you don’t want to share.

If you currently have a private profile but you do not wish to make your profile public, you can delete your profile. Or, you can simply do nothing. All private profiles will be deleted after July 31, 2011.

The above policy only applies to Google+, meaning that users’ profiles will be public within the Google+ network. If you have a Plus profile, other users can search for you, and your name will appear in the results. Google does, however, make it possible to keep your Plus profile out of Google search results; simply uncheck the box next to “Help others find my profile in search results,” which is found in the account page.

This level of privacy is much more shallow than on Facebook, where users can make themselves virtually invisible. Users who choose this option don’t show up in any search engine results, nor do they appear in Facebook search except to that person’s friends. The 100 percent private crowd can even turn off friend requests and messages of any kind.

So, while Google+ does have some particularly useful privacy features, and is overall more straightforward with its privacy policy than Facebook, it seems to have fallen short on this front.

If you already have a Google+ account (the network is still in beta testing mode), you can see how your profile looks to the public by visiting your profile, and clicking the “View profile as…” box directly beneath the blue “Edit Profile” button in the top right corner. Choose the “Anyone on the web” option to see what your Plus profile looks like to the rest of us, then edit accordingly.

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