The First Google+ Privacy Flaw Discovered

Users have discovered a loophole in Google+, Google’s newest endeavor in the social networking space. This new loophole involving the network’s "reshare" feature might lead some private posts to accidentally end in the public domain.


Those who’ve tried Google+, or read out write-up, should be aware of the +Circles feature, which allows friends to be organized into different groups and have different information, such as status updates, assigned to each group. While that feature works surprisingly well, there’s a rather interesting loophole. Using the "reshare" option on posts, similar to "retweet" on Twitter, users can broadcast other people’s private posts, intentionally or otherwise, to all their friends. This could can cause private posts to end up in the public domain without the poster’s consent. Even worse, this loophole doesn’t only apply to status updates but to any content shared by users, including photos and videos, and since there’s no way to disable posts from being reshared, users can’t really control whether their content falls on the wrong hands.

Google has acknowledged this problem and insisted that Google+ is still in an early testing phase, with a very limited number of users. Going forward, it would be a sensible move to implement tighter privacy controls, similar to Facebook’s privacy settings, in order to prevent these accidents from happen. Google+’s simplicity, one of the products main selling points, doesn’t need to be hindered by more granular privacy controls if they’re implemented correctly.

Until then, just make sure you follow the most basic online privacy rule: if you don’t want most people to know what you’re posting, you should think twice about getting it out there. The Internet might not be the best place to share private data after all.

Google+ is Google’s new attempt to be successful in the social networking space, after the failure of Buzz and Wave before it. Although not everything about the product is innovative, Google+ does a great job at taking many features from different social networks and making them work better. The product is marketed as a friendly social network that simulates real-life social interactions, with features such as +Hangouts: dynamic multi-person video conversations any authorized user can join at any time, just to have someone else to talk to.

(via FT)

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