With so many social media platforms based on the same premise as that of Facebook; adding friends, posting updates, sharing content and monitoring a newsfeed, it’s important to ensure that you have a firm grasp on the T’s and C’s. Your personal information is at risk and it’s up to you to take responsibility for it. Google+ is no exception.

Google Plus Button

Originally named Google Buzz, Google+ had to undergo a complete transformation in order to win over a new generation of social media users. The former, Buzz, had at least a handful of serious privacy issues. Whilst Buzz wouldn’t ask your permission before making all your information public; Google+ was designed with privacy in mind. Unfortunately Google Buzz was subject to a class action lawsuit, ensuring its early demise.

As with all things internet however, the creating of a social networking platform is an iterative process. Continually reviewing privacy and security settings has afforded Facebook many an opportunity to expand to its current size. As time goes by, users become more savvy and discerning. While Facebook had to grow and change almost alone and as one of the first of its kind, it began setting the standards and learning by trial and error. Google+ was lucky to be able to draw upon the mistakes and oversights of others, Buzz included.

Get set up

The settings in your Google+ account can be found in the icon in the upper left of the screen, just beneath the Google+ logo. The menu drops down as you hover your mouse over it, revealing a bunch of areas within your Google+ account which can be explored, last on the list is settings. Here you will be able to refine the following settings:

1. Who can interact with you and your posts
Who can send you notifications?
Who can comment on your public posts?
For both of these settings you can choose from extended circles, anyone, your circles, only you or custom.

2. Who can Hangout with you
Here you can define exactly how people engage with you through the Hangout function. Google Hangout is just like Skype, it allows you to send instant messages, make and receive calls and even chat via video. These settings allow you to ensure strangers send you a Hangout request rather than just popping up uninvited

3. Shared Endorsements
This setting will allow personal endorsements on other sites or pages by you.

4. Notification delivery
This allows you to define how you get your notifications, via email or via SMS.

5. Manage subscriptions
You can agree to receive occasional updates about Google+ activity and friend suggestions and occasional updates from people outside your circles.

6. Receive notifications
Allows you to select exactly what you do and don’t want to receive notifications for. From posts, circles, hangouts, events to communications about Google+ pages and even communities can be adjusted to suit your needs. These settings are not so much about privacy as they are about your sanity. If you are an active Google+ user it may not be in your best interests to receive an SMS notification every time someone invites you to an event.

7. Apps & activities
This setting is definitely not to be overlooked. In downloading apps on either your mobile device or the web, you may have overseen one or two important details. Here you can control what information is seen by the app, and who can see your activities within the app on Google services. Just sign in to the app and configure the controls.

8. Your circles
Your circles are your contacts. In adding them or accepting their requests you will assign them to a particular circle, be it friends, family, co-workers or other. By adjusting this setting you are able to select or deselect whichever groups you may or may not want to view your posts. This way you can share specific information with a particular group of people. This is by far the best feature of Google+.

9. Accessibility
Here you can change the presentation of some pages in order to work better with screen readers and other accessibility tools.

10. Photos and videos
• Show geo-location information on newly uploaded photos and videos, this just means that people will know where you are posting from, which country, city and town.
• Allow viewers to download my photos and videos.
Find my face in photos and videos and prompt people I know to tag me.
• Show Google Drive photos and videos in your photo library. Only you can see them in your library until you choose to share them

These settings are important because your geo-location and your images are another level of information which should ideally be kept private especially if you have selected to allow everyone to see your posts.

11. Profile
This section allows you to narrow down the information to share with your Google+ community such as whether or not people will be able to find your profile in their search results.

12. Hashtags
This setting allows you to use hashtags in your posts in much the same way as they were originally seen and used on Twitter.

13. Location settings
Just as before, think twice about enabling location sharing. Do you really want your ex to know that you’re sitting outside his/her house while you’re posting an update?

We recommend taking this process a step further, go to your profile page and access the settings on each section of your about page eg; contact information, where you work, who your friends are etc. By clicking edit on the bottom right corner of each of the boxes you will be able to fill in the fields and decide who you will allow to view which information. Here you can make absolutely sure that no-one, or no-one other than those in your circles will be able to access your personal information… or you can share your personal information with the whole world – whatever blows your hair back.

Should you find yourself in a sticky situation, as the recipient of some creep’s unwanted affection, go to this person’s profile. Beneath their name you will find a downward pointing arrow which will enable you to mute, report or block this person.

Google+ seem to have achieved their goal of designing for privacy. Their interface is clean, simple and easy to use. If there’s anything that befuddles you; don’t’ ask us, the answer is always in the blue hyper link, ‘learn more’, where they manage to explain everything concisely and better than anyone else can.

Enjoy Google+’ing!