Privacy: Google+ vs. Facebook

Google+ may be more than “just” a social network, but it can be used in in a similar way to Facebook, and many people want to join precisely because they want a change. Facebook has suffered a number of privacy scares as it has grown, so how does it compare with new kid Google+? Let’s take a look at the  privacy options of both social apps.

Privacy Settings:

Facebook’s privacy dashboard has a neat table that shows you who can see what. Click Customize and you can edit these settings. You can choose to share things with just you, friends, friends of friends or specific people. You can also opt to hide certain categories from specific people. Here you can also preview your profile as it appears to any of your friends.

The Google+ privacy settings page is much longer, but every segment is clearly explained. Editing your settings takes you to your profile, letting you see exactly which part of your profile you are altering. Google+’s Circles means you choose who can see your posts and updates as you make them, giving you much greater control.

While their approaches are different, I think both are good attempts at making privacy and sharing settings accessible and user friendly.

Default Settings

Where Facebook and Google+ really differ is default settings. Facebook, in my opinion, gets default settings wrong. As you can see in the image above, unless you actively investigate your settings, Facebook will automatically share your Status, Photos, Posts, Bio and Family/Relationship info with everyone! Worse still, this is the recommended setting. Default settings for apps are usually as open as possible, so it’s also worth checking out the settings for apps and websites you have linked with Facebook.

Google+ does this differently. As you create your profile, you set up who can see what as you go. This gets users involved with privacy settings right from the get-go, which I think is a much better approach.

Photo Privacy

Some people don’t like being tagged, meaning their Facebook experience revolves around quickly responding to notification emails, jumping in and un-tagging themselves from images.  Google+ by default lets people in your Circles tag you in images, but you can change this so your approval is required for tagging. Approval for tagging is an excellent feature that stops any embarrassing/unwanted photos taking you by surprise!

Conclusion

Facebook’s privacy options have changed a lot over the years, and have certainly improved. However, I think they need tighter default settings. There are still many users who are maybe not tech-savvy enough to realize how much they share publicly on Facebook.
Google+, with its Circles feature, makes controlling who sees what very easy. Privacy settings are also much more flexible, and your images are much easier to control.
It looks like Google has listened to people’s concerns about Facebook privacy, and made a social network/sharing experience that is built on user control of data. Google+ is still a very young product though, and it remains to be seen if all this user control makes for a better social experience or not.

Below are some more images of Google+’s privacy settings:

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