On Thursday, January 9, Kurt Wagner of Mashable reported that Google is making it easier for people in the greater Spokane area who use Gmail and Google+ to receive messages from other Google+ users who don't have their email addresses.
According to Wagner, "A new [Google+] setting lets users specify whether they would like to receive emails from people in their circles, extended circles, or anyone on Google+. (They can also choose not to participate in this feature.) Any resulting messages will appear in the recipient's Gmail inbox alongside a note that the message was received 'via your Google+ profile,' according to Google's blog post. "
Sarah Perez of TechCrunch provided more details about how the new feature works.
According to Perez, "This feature appears as you begin typing your contact’s name in the 'To' field of an email message. Matching contacts display first at the top of the list of suggestions provided by Gmail’s autocomplete, while your Google+ connections appear below.
"... The feature also takes advantage of Gmail’s previously introduced tabbed interface, which breaks the Gmail inbox into sections like 'Primary,' 'Social,' 'Promotions,' and more. Going forward, emails from those in your Google+ Circles will appear in the 'Primary' section, while those you don’t have in your Circles will be filtered over to the 'Social' tab instead.
"Those users will only be able to start a conversation with you if you respond to them or add them to your Google+ Circles – something you can do right from the email header (which fortunately offers a visible 'Report Spam or Abuse' link, as well)."
In the blog post Wagner mentioned, Gmail Product Manager David Nachum said that people who send emails using this new feature will not see the recipients' email address unless they reply to the messages.
According to Nachum, " ... these emails work a bit differently so that your email address is only shared with the people you want. Your email address isn't visible to a Google+ connection unless you send that person an email, and likewise, that person’s email address isn’t visible to you unless they send you an email."
Nachum's explanation of how email via Google+ profiles works may not reassure people who would prefer to completely opt out of the new feature. In an article posted on Friday, January 10, Kelly Hodgkins of The Unofficial Apple Weblog explained how to turn it off.
According to Hodgkins, "Open Gmail by going to mail.google.com. Click the gear in the top right corner of the Gmail window. Select Settings from the drop-down menu. Scroll down to the Email via Google+ section, which is under the 'General' tab. Click the drop-down menu and choose 'Anyone on Google+', 'Extended circles', 'Circles' or 'No one'. [Finally,] click the'Save Changes' button at the bottom of the page."
"I recommend selecting 'No one' as that blocks the feature completely. You can select 'Circles' if you want the people in your circles to be able to email you or 'Extended Circles' if you want friends of friends to message you. The default option 'Anyone on Google+' is for those who don't mind being contacted by any random person."
People in the Spokane area tend to place a high value on their privacy and protecting their personal information. It would not be surprising to see that most people in the Lilac City would prefer to choose "No one" as their default settings to keep from receiving more emails from people they don't know.