If you have recently received an invitation to join Google's new social networking website, Google+, you may want to take a look at your privacy settings and make some adjustments.
Parts of your Google+ account will be searchable on the Web. To see what others, who are not part of your “circles” will see when they go to your account, first click on the circle that looks like a gear next to your picture in the upper right corner, then select “Google+ settings.” This will bring you to the Google+ settings page.
Now click on “Profile and Privacy” in the left column. Those who already use Google services, such as Gmail, Google Profiles, or Blogger may have some information automatically downloaded into Google+ when they sign up. So, parts of your profile may already be filled in for you.
To see how your profile looks to others, click “Edit visibility on profile” in the middle of the page. Now, you will see your profile.
To see how your profile looks to anyone else on the web, click inside the “View profile as...” box on the right side of the screen, then select “Anyone on the web.” This is how your profile would look to anyone else on the Web. You can also enter the name of a person from one of your circles to see what your profile looks like to them.
You can click on any part of the profile, such as “Employment” and “Education” to add or delete information.
To make information viewable to only those in your circles, select the drop down menu right above the “Save” button. You can let “Your circles,” “Extended circles,” “Only you,” or “Anyone on the web” view it. The default is “Anyone on the web.”
You can even customize it so that only certain circles can view certain information by selecting “Custom.” If you only want to let your family and friends view your home phone number, for instance, you would select “Home,” then select “Custom” from the “Your circles” drop down menu. Click on the “x” next to “Your circles” to delete it. Click on “+Add more people” and select “Family,” click on “+Add more people” again and select “Friends.”
When you share information, such as links or photos, in Google+, you select the level of privacy when you share it (one of the big advantages Google+ has over Facebook). The default setting will be whatever it was the last time you shared something. You can always get rid of a default circle when you share by clicking on the “x” in the circle, and you can add circles by clicking on “+Add more people.” In addition to your circles, you can choose to share with everyone on the Web by selecting “Public,” or those who are in the circles of those who are in your circles by selecting “Extended circles."
For more information about Google's privacy policies, go to their Privacy Center at http://www.google.com/intl/en-US/privacy/.