There was speculation back in March that Google was going to launch a social network when it was announced that there would be no more private Google profiles after July 31st. The launch of Google+ solidified this stance as on Google’s public profiles page it states:
The purpose of Google Profiles is to enable you to manage your online identity. Today, nearly all Google Profiles are public. We believe that using Google Profiles to help people find and connect with you online is how the product is best used. Private profiles don’t allow this, so we have decided to require all profiles to be public.
Keep in mind that your full name and gender are the only required information that will be displayed on your profile; you’ll be able to edit or remove any other information that you don’t want to share.
If you currently have a private profile but you do not wish to make your profile public, you can delete your profile. Or, you can simply do nothing. All private profiles will be deleted after July 31, 2011.
So if you are looking to use Google+, you must have at least your full name and gender shown publicly to participate. Google Buzz encountered some issues early about forcing users to be public, but then changed its stance. This does not look to be the case with Google+ as these changes were premeditated and have been announced for almost 3 months now.
This is also much different than Facebook’s privacy as you are able to virtually vanish by disallowing people to search for you, friend request you, message you or see any of your info. In Google+, if you have a profile, others can find you within the Google+ network.
One nice feature that Google does give users is the ability to remove their profile from showing in Google search. By going to your account page, you can uncheck the “Help others find my profile in search results” button to be removed from the results pages.
If you would like to know how your Google profile looks to the public, you can quickly view how others see you, much like Facebook’s “Preview My Profile” feature. To do this, simply click on your Google profile and type in a user’s name or ‘Anyone on the web’ in the ‘View profile as…’ box:
This is a very strong move by Google that solidifies its push behind social media and The Google+ Project. If you want to participate in Google+ after this month, you will do so with a public profile.