Google tackles first Google+ privacy flaw

News by Dan Raywood

The first privacy issue with Google+ has been detected.

The first privacy issue with Google+ has been detected.

The ‘reshare' option in Circles within Google+ was reportedly sharing information beyond set circles. According to a report by the Financial Times the Circles feature on Google+ is a simpler way to categorise groups of friends than is available on Facebook, as users are given the option of which Circles they want to share a piece of content with.

However a bug in the beta of the social networking site means that if an item is ‘reshared' it can be viewed by anyone on the site despite the controls being in place on the circle. Resharing can be disabled by a poster but Google+ lacked any way to turn off resharing of all posts from within its privacy settings.

The report also claimed that several settings in Google+ are public by default, including ‘personalising' search results and adverts that require users to opt out of being targeted. It also defaults all friendships to be made public to anybody on the web.

Talking about changes in a video on her Google+ page, Google engineer Kelly Ellis said: “We're making changes all the time. Commenting and sharing on posts can always be disabled and the next time you post, you'll see a tip that describes how to do this. Starting next week, limited posts will not be sharable publicly. This is really important to us. On Google+ you should be in control of who sees your posts.”

Catalin Cosoi, head of the online threats lab at BitDefender, said: “It boils down to the fact that the tagging feature can be bypassed by using the reshare option. Let's say user ‘A' shares a picture only to their ‘Close Friends' circle and disables resharing. All it takes is for someone from that circle to tag a person from outside this circle in the picture. Once this has been done, that person can share the picture to anyone, in any way.

“Whilst it's true that once someone has access to a picture they can save it and redistribute it, the concern here is that Google+ is promoting Circles as a way to be selective about how you share content, yet accidental and even deliberate sharing to other Circles is all too easy to do. Let's not forget, if it happened to Bono, it can happen to anyone.”


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