Sharing controls and privacy settings
Google offers many services that allow you to share information, from Gmail, to YouTube, to Google+. Sharing controls in these products put you in control of what content you share online, including photos, personal blogs and profile information, by allowing you to share this content with as many or as few people as you choose.
We designed Google+ with privacy in mind. A number of different features provide you with transparency and choice over who can see which type of information that you post or share, including circles, which allow you to select exactly who sees your posts, notification settings, which allow you to specify who can contact you, and visibility settings, allowing you to make your profile private. Visit our Google+ Safety Centre for more tips on keeping your family safe while using social networks.
Sometimes you might just want to keep your family videos to yourself or only share them with selected people. You can do so on YouTube by choosing either unlisted or private when you upload your video.
Google Talk and Gmail Chat
When chatting directly in Gmail or Google Talk, you can go “off the record”, so that nothing typed from that point on gets saved in anyone’s Gmail account. Going off the record applies to individual people and is persistent across chats. This means that once you go off the record with a particular person, you will always be off the record with him or her, even if you close the chat window and the two of you don’t chat again until several months later. You will not need to go off the record each time you chat with the same person, but you will need to make this decision for each person with whom you chat.
We built Gmail to improve the experience of using email and we continue to develop innovative new features to make your experience better – which includes working to protect your security and privacy. Gmail offers a variety of tools to help you to protect your data, including virus scanning, spam filtering, HTTPS access and 2-step verification.
We automatically blur identifiable faces and licence plates in Street View to protect individual privacy. We also provide easily accessible tools, so that you can request further blurring of any image that features yourself, your family, your car or your home. Learn about Street View’s privacy features and how to request the removal of images that feature inappropriate content.
On Blogger, your blog is completely public by default and can be read by anyone on the Internet. If you’d like to keep it private, you can limit the viewers of your blog just to people that you choose to invite.
Mobile and geo-location
Google mobile apps
Google offers a variety of mobile applications that you can download onto your smartphone, and some of these apps, such as Search, Maps and Latitude, incorporate geo-location features. Some parents may be concerned about their teenager sharing their location with others. Each app allows you to adjust the privacy setting, so that you can share as much or little as you want.
- Search: When you first use Search on your phone, you are asked whether or not you’d like to allow Search to use your location information. In Android, the browser settings page allows you to turn off browser location entirely or clear the sites that you have previously given permission to access your location. On other phones (BlackBerry or iPhone, for example) you can disable location through the options in the app itself.
- Maps: Google Maps makes use of your web browser’s geo-location feature to determine your location. Google Maps accesses your location from your browser and can only do so with your explicit consent. The first time you use the My Location feature, your browser will ask whether you’re happy to share your location with Google Maps. If you deny this, your location is not shared with Google Maps and the My Location feature will be deactivated.
- Latitude: Google Latitude gives you control over how much or how little location information you want to share with whomever you choose. Before someone can view your location, you must either send the person a location request by adding them as a friend or accept their location request and choose to share back your location. You can sign out and turn off Google Latitude to stop sharing your location with friends at any time from the privacy menu. For more information about how to set your privacy settings on Latitude, take a look at this short video.
On Android devices, you can turn off geo-location for all apps and websites. Visit the “Location and Security” or “Location services” menu under Settings to do this. Once turned off, if an app or website wishes to access location information, it will ask you to change your settings or work without this information.
When you download an Android app from Google Play, the app must ask you for permission to use geo-location. It must also specify how granular the location information for which it’s asking is. Depending on the app, this information could be used in a variety of ways, whether that’s providing targeted results or publishing your location on the web.