The seventh circle of hell: AKA Google+

19 December 2013

Unless you work for Google and have to pretend that it’s actually a thing, most people think Google+ is just a tumbleweed-strewn place full of empty circles and blank space.

google-plus-logo

But unfortunately, the social network that nobody but SEO people really care about is now being taken over by more sinister forces, according to a tech industry whistleblower.

Internet action group Consumer Watchdog then carried out its own study, which confirmed the findings. They say that Google+ has become ‘a virtual playground for online predators and sexual explicit content.’

In an open letter to Google boss Larry Page, Consumer Watchdog accused Google of allowing the social network to go bad due to a ‘fundamental design flaw that we believe presents substantial privacy vulnerabilities for users.’

The main problem with Google+ is that a user can add someone to their circle without them actually agreeing to it. Then they can’t be removed from that circle, regardless of whether you want to be associated with them. So if Porny McBrawny adds you and starts posting pictures of him frottaging a horse, you’re stuck with it.

The site has been independently monitored since March, and Consumer Watchdog claim that thanks to Google’s lackadaisical privacy settings, pornographic content is being posted to drive traffic to dodgy sites. And shockingly, they even claim that Google+ Suggestions is practically a paedo introduction service, blithely directing users who have posted pornographic images of children - or who are known sex offenders - to young people and teenagers.

Apparently Google+ members have been complaining about this since the beginning. If it’s all true, surely it's time to get the Google police on the case – or shut it down.

8 comments

  • Alexis
    You mean there are actually people using it?
  • James C.
    Er, this isn't how Google+ works. Just like Twitter, you follow people you want to follow. Others follow people they want to follow. Direct messages are available, just like Twitter, and you can opt out of them if you want to or restrict them to just people in your circles. (That is probably the default).
  • Martin
    "So if Porny McBrawny adds you and starts posting pictures of him frottaging a horse, you’re stuck with it." Just querying this particular part. The people who add you to their circles doesn't mean you have added them to your circles. It's like twitter, people may follow you but that doesn't automatically mean that you are following them, so you won't see their stuff unless you choose to "follow" them. So, even though they are "following" you by adding you to their circles in Google+ and have some vague association in that way, isn't any worse than that of those on Twitter... or am I missing something here?
  • Travis
    @Martin, no you are not missing anything. This author has no idea how circles on G+ work and is simply spreading fud. The fact that someone adds you to their circles only means they will be able to see your 'public' posts... if you post to the public stream. They can only see information about you, other than your name and profile pic, if you have your settings as open as possible, ie you have everything in your settings as public. A significant portion of G+ users only post to their own circles and not public, therefore they do not display any information to people that THEY do not follow (in their own circles). A little time spent looking at how G+ is used might help Lucy work out what she is doing wrong.
  • KTF
    Lucy must have been getting tips from Mof on how to write a high quality, well researched BW article ;)
  • Hugh B.
    Ummm... Lucy? You have no freaking idea what you're talking about.
  • Betty S.
    I wish I could get paid for writing shit and basically making stuff up.
  • just s.
    "The main problem with Google+ is that a user can add someone to their circle without them actually agreeing to it." Lucy is correct, and that's enough for me. It's MY circle, and I don't want you in it if i didn't put you there. I don't want to see your name, i don't even want to know you exist.

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