Google announced recently that it will soon roll out a new “feature” that allows your Google+ connections to send messages straight to your inbox.
This means that a person whose choice method of communication is Google’s social network will soon be able to send a message straight to your inbox. This is what that will look like:
Now, this isn’t quite as troubling as it may sound. At the very least, the person attempting to email you can’t actually see your address unless you email them back, and vice versa. Also comforting is the fact that complete strangers can only email you once using this feature, so if you decline to reply or add them to one of your circles, the spam will cease.
Still, your inbox will be vulnerable, at least once, to the emails of Google Plussers everywhere. Here’s how to shut it down.
Because this feature will be rolled out with a default setting that allows “Anyone on Google+” to email you, you’ll have to change your privacy settings yourself. According to the official Gmail blog, you’ll receive an email with a link to the setting when it’s available. When you get it, you should change the feature according to which option is best for you. Here’s a quick run-through of what they mean, because barely anyone I know has used Google+ enough to remember:
- “Extended circles” implies that the people in your circles and the people in their circles will be able to email you.
- “Circles” means that people who you have manually categorized as a “colleague,” “friend,” “family member” or any other group you created can contact you.
At the very least, you should opt to only allow people within your circles to message you. But if you’ve spent the past few minutes wondering if you even have a Google+ account (and believe me, you are not alone), it’d probably be better to go with “No one.”
My Gmail inbox is a sacred place. And even filtering these messages into a separate “Social” category doesn’t sit well with me. As Slate’s Will Oremus posits, Google seems to have decided to force this feature on its users because “they were afraid no one would use it. And that fear overrode the privacy concerns.”