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Google Plus Privacy Settings And Sharing Options For Posts

Google Plus [1] is a completely fresh social network which aims to redefine how social connections and online sharing of content work. It  works the same way as existing social sites do (e.g Facebook, Orkut, Friendster). You can share photos, videos, links and status updates with friends and followers, tell the world what you are doing, start a group video chat with family members or colleagues and subscribe to groups or communities related to your interests.

But there is a key difference between Google Plus and other social sites – the approach of social sharing and mutual connections.

Google’s goal with Plus is to simplify the entire social experience and make life easy for people who want to have more control on the stuff that they share with friends. Google understands that not every photo or video is intended to be shared with “everyone”, and users care a lot about the privacy of their content. That’s why Google has introduced the concept of circles, which can be used to customize the sharing aspect of your content.

Note: If you are new to Google Plus and haven’t created an account yet, we suggest you to read our earlier posts on Google Plus here [2] and here [3].

Customizing the Sharing options Of Your Google Plus posts

Before you go ahead and post something on your Google Plus profile, here are a few things you should take note of:

The visibility of every post you share on Google Plus can be controlled the way you want it to be. You can choose which of your friends can see a specific update, link or photo and which friends are not allowed any access to a specific update.

This is the default view of the Google plus update box, note that “Your circles” is selected by default:

Google Plus Sharing box

When you hit the “Share” button, all friends and followers present in your Google Plus circles will be able to see it and comment on it. This may include family members, online friends, colleagues, spouse, children, your employer and strangers.

There are a lot of situations when you don’t want to share something with everyone. In that case, you have to remove the pre-selected option “your circles” and type in the name of the circle with whom you want to share a specific post, photo, video or link.

For example: In the following post, I have shared an update with my “Friends” circle and with a specific person to whom the update is dedicated to.

Customize sharing options in Google Plus

When I share this post on my stream, only those people who are present in my “Friends” circle will be able to see it. I have another circle for office colleagues, but since I don’t want them to see this post, I haven’t added that circle in the sharing options text box.  To share a post with specific friends, hit the “@” button and type in the name of the person with whom you want to share the update.

When you have more than a dozen circles on your Google Plus profile, how do you share something with everyone except people who are present in a particular “circle” ? It’s easy – type in the name of all circles one by one, but do not include the circle which is to be excluded. This can be a little time consuming, but I am very sure Google will introduce an “Exclude” option in coming weeks.

Important note: Having a person in multiple circles can sometimes override the visibility of a post. Here is an example case:

Let’s say you have an office colleague  named John with whom you don’t want to share a specific post. You uploaded a bunch of photos on your Google Plus profile and want only your family members to see it, so you selected only the “family” circle in the sharing options field.

Three weeks later, if you add “John” to the “Family” circle, he will be able to see that post and other updates that were shared exclusively with the “family” circle.  My advice here is to create independent circles and make sure no friend is present on multiple circles. Makes life easy!

~Amit Banerjee