This is crazy. I got an email from Google saying that people who have circled me on Google Plus can now send email to me even if they donâ€™t know my email address. Uh, no thanks. How do I turn this off?
Before you throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater, itâ€™s useful to have a closer look at exactly what Googleâ€™s talking about with thisÂ newÂ feature, and worth knowing that by default people cannot send you messages without your email address: itâ€™s a feature you have to enable, not disable.
At some level, I also would say that this is something that people can already do through many other social media services. For example, if youâ€™re on Twitter, people can â€ś@-replyâ€ť you or mention you, bringing attention to their tweets, regardless of if you follow them or not. OnÂ Facebook, you can even email people through the â€śotherâ€ť feature whether they are friends with you or not. AndÂ LinkedIn has â€śInMailâ€ť, offering you the ability to email people who you can find on their service but otherwise donâ€™t know.
Still, I completely understandÂ privacyÂ concerns, itâ€™s one of the great challenges of our era.
So letâ€™s start by seeing what it would look like if you were sending me an email via Google Plus without having my email address. Itâ€™d look like this:
As you can see, Iâ€™d show up as a â€śGoogle+ connectionâ€ť.
On my end, when the message arrived, itâ€™d be denoted inÂ Gmail thusly:
Notice that I now see Tedâ€™s email address. Not sure it tells him that Iâ€™m going to see that when he sends it, but if you are going to use this feature, itâ€™s good to know.
And as for me, I can opt out if I want, or just enable this to see what happens. So far, my friend Tedâ€™s doing just fine.
To opt in â€“ or out â€“ or otherwise see howÂ yourÂ account is configured, go to â€śSettingsâ€ť in Gmail and look for this:
Since Iâ€™m always interested in how things work and figure that Gmail already has splendid crowdsourced spam management, I want to see what options there are:
They donâ€™t really define things well, but I have mine set for â€śextended circlesâ€ť which I assume means that people who are one hop away from me can also send me email with thisÂ facility. (My assumption: circles = people who I have circled, extended circles = people I have circled and the people they have circled, anyone on Google+ is, well, anyone on Google Plus).
So now you know and can make your own decision about privacy versus opening it up a bit to incoming messages. And Iâ€™m curious: after reading through this, what did you decide to do?