A couple Google+ users were concerned that their Circles may be visible to people viewing their profiles or even that people could see who their contacts are. This prospect concerned me somewhat because it is a little close to the mistake the Google Buzz team in those early days when Buzz automatically added all your contacts and make them publicly visible. A few people started hiding their contacts altogether and I thought I would see how to do this after reading a discussion thread (yep, threaded comments – in your face Twitter!). What I discovered only impressed me even more.
Assuming you have access to Google+, go to Google+ Settings and click on the Profile and privacy link to open the privacy controls panel. When you do that you get these choices under the Sharing section:
When you click on “Edit network visibility” you are taken to an edit view of your profile and a preferences panel for your Circles’ visibility opens:
Notice how you can select which Circles are visible in the first place and set a further limitation that only someone in your Circles can view what you make visible? You can also hide all the people who added you to their Circles (your followers list, to borrow from Twitter terminology).
The team behind Google+ has clearly given a lot of thought to privacy and while there are still a couple niggling issues, Google has done a pretty good job on the privacy and information control front. Like I said earlier, I am very impressed.