Google To Fix Google+ Privacy Flaw


Google said it is readying a patch for a privacy flaw in Google+ that involves the ‘resharing’ feature

When Google Buzz launched in February 2010 it did so with a number of privacy flaws the search engine set to fixing within days of users complaining about them.

Google is applying the same expediency to feature changes in its new Google+ social network. One of the first includes closing a privacy hole in its resharing feature, which should kick in next week.


Google+ users manually add contacts to Circles, or buckets of family, friends, acquaintances, people they want to follow. Users sharing comments, links or videos, may choose what Circles they want to share content with each time they post content.

Currently, Google+ users can reshare what users in their social Circles have posted to anyone in their own Circles, which may include people whom the original poster did not wish to see the content.

Posters can disable resharing via a drop-down menu by clicking a small arrow in the corner of a post, but only after they have posted their status updates, links, photos or videos. The Financial Times noticed this flaw last week.

Kelly Ellis, a software engineer on the Google+ team, said she and her team are working on a fix to keep any items posters wish to be kept within Circle private – or invisible from other users. Ellis noted in a video published to Google+ on 1 July:

“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.”

Off switch

Now when users post an item, they see a pop up under their post that reminds them: “Find a typo? Use the drop-down menu of your post to edit or delete it. Don’t want people to leave comments or reshare it with others? You can turn that off there too.”

More importantly, Ellis said that limited posts, or those in a social Circle, will not be available for public resharing.

“And starting next week limited posts will not be shareable publicly,” Ellis said. “This is really important to us. On google+ you should be in control of who sees your posts. On Google+ you should be in control of who sees your posts.”

Ellis also said she and her team are working on quieting some of the noise on Google+ generated from seeing the same posts over and over again.

“We hear you and we’re rolling out a few experiments that display posts with activity from the people you’re close to,” Ellis said.

Unclear is how Google will define “close” users, though it will likely use some sort of social relevancy algorithm. Gmail Priority Inbox, for example, determines relevancy in email messages based on how often contacts interact by sending messages.

Google may gauge how much users interact with other users on Google+ and use similar relevancy functionality to surface posts in users’ Streams.

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