Google will no longer allow users to have private Google profiles after July 31st, reports Search Engine Land. The company had previously allowed users to create and maintain profiles on its service without publicly disclosing their existence.
Google is making the change primarily to aid in the growth of its new Google+ social network. This change means that you must have at least your full name and gender shown publicly to join Google+.
The purpose of Google Profiles is to enable you to manage your online identity. Today, nearly all Google Profiles are public. We believe that using Google Profiles to help people find and connect with you online is how the product is best used. Private profiles don’t allow this, so we have decided to require all profiles to be public.
Keep in mind that your full name and gender are the only required information that will be displayed on your profile; you’ll be able to edit or remove any other information that you don’t want to share.
If you currently have a private profile but you do not wish to make your profile public, you can delete your profile. Or, you can simply do nothing. All private profiles will be deleted after July 31, 2011.
This change makes sense in the context of Google+ being a network that defaults to a ‘public’ setting, somewhat like Twitter. Anything that you share can be moderated to only appear to a member of the exact circles that you choose, but by default, everyone sees everything.
There are still some controls that are available to users, regardless of the public status of their profile. Users of Google can still choose to have their profile not be included in search results pages by visiting their profile privacy settings and changing the ‘Search visibility’ option.
In addition, you can change your Google+ settings to make your information and posts, even ‘public’ ones, visible to only those people in your circles. This should make very little information about you visible to the public, but will still not make your account completely invisible.
A more cynical person might also comment on the fact that if your profile and sharing is all private, it is also harder for Google to serve you up with targeted ads from its advertising network.