If you use Gmail, you may soon be receiving email messages from people you may not even know and who don’t have your email address. That’s because Google’s latest Google+ and Gmail upgrade is a feature that allows people who know your name but not your email address to send you messages.
Users can opt out, but if they don’t, they’re automatically in the system. That’s because Google made the “default” mode the so that anyone can email you.
If you are a Gmail customer, you probably received an email about this subject from the Gmail team on Jan. 10. It said:
“Ever wanted to email someone you know, but haven’t yet exchanged email addresses? Starting this week, when you’re composing a new email, Gmail will suggest your Google+ connections as recipients, even if you haven’t exchanged email addresses yet.”
Google Wants You on Social Media Whether You Want To Be There Or Not
Basically what this says that anybody who uses Google+ — there are 500 million users — can send you an email even they if don’t know your email. In other words, you can now receive emails from people that you didn’t want to receive emails from. For example, a salesman who knows your name can now send a brochure to your Gmail account even if he doesn’t know your address.
What’s worse is that if you have Gmail you’re now part of Google’s social network whether you want to be or not. Forbes writer Robert Hof thinks the move is designed to make Google more competitive with Facebook.
Not surprisingly, privacy advocates have major concerns Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center called the move troubling. He also noted that the feature sounds suspiciously like Google Buzz, a similar effort back in 2010.
Google backed away from Buzz after people found out that older contacts, including persons they no longer wanted anything to do with, could find them through it. In one notorious case, a woman discovered that Google Buzz had revealed her new boyfriend’s identity to her abusive ex-husband.
“There is a strong echo of the Google Buzz snafu,” Rotenberg told Reuters. Google+ doesn’t threaten privacy because it doesn’t reveal email addresses to strangers, Google claims. A person will only see your email address if you reply to him or her.
What’s worse : Celebrities that use Gmail will not automatically receive emails from Google+ users. Average people, though, have to opt out.
How to Block Gmail Messages from People You Don’t Know
Fortunately, there’s a fairly simple means of shutting off emails from Google+ accounts. Here is how to block such emails from your Gmail inbox:
- Go to your Gmail Inbox and look to the right hand side. There you should see an icon that looks like a Gear click on it.
- A drop down menu should appear. Scroll down to Settings
- The General Settings page should appear. Look down toward the bottom the page; you should see “Email via Google+.” You should see the question: “Who can email you via your Google+ profile?”
- There will be a drop box next to the question. If you don’t want anybody who doesn’t know your email sending you messages, choose “no one.” If you want only people you know sending you messages click on “Circles” or “Extended Circles.”
Once again Google has shown little concern for its customers and the whole concept of privacy. Thankfully, though, there is a way around it.