Google Plus made its debut in the Social Media Top 10 recently, as more and more people are trying it out to see if it really is a valid alternative to Facebook. As Zuck has learned over on Facebook, privacy issues are always a nagging concern. And having been on Google Plus since July, I’ve found at least one issue that may need some attention at some point: blocking users. This is a rare instance where I’ll say Facebook has it right and Google Plus doesn’t.
Blocking a user on Facebook is absolute, making your profile and activity forever invisible to them, as if your profile doesn’t exist at all in their world. And there’s no “public” setting that will over-ride this. The new “subscribe” feature doesn’t change this. If you block someone on Facebook, they can’t see your public posts via the “subscribe” feature.
Google Plus doesn’t work quite that way.
The ability to block people on Google Plus does exist, but it’s not absolute To block on Google Plus, you simply go to their profile and click the “Block” link below their profile picture. That prompts a confirmation window, which in part states: This person will still be able to see your public posts. (See graphic below) So this isn’t an oversight – it’s the nature of the beast. Public, on Google Plus, truly means public, regardless of blocked or unblocked status.
So be careful when you share anything on Google Plus, especially anything shared publicly.
Google Plus, in a way, bridges the gap between Facebook and Twitter, offering experiences similar to both of them. If use Google Plus similar to how you use Facebook – where you’re mostly interested in connecting with people you know – then the blocking issue probably isn’t going to affect you, as your posts will almost always be directed at your circles. If you’re more of a Twitter type, however, and want a more public profile so you can connect with new people around the world, you’re probably out of luck if you want to keep your profile hidden from specific people.
Unless things change, you should be careful what you post publicly on Google Plus because there is no way as of this writing to hide public posts from a specific individual. It would be nice to allow public followers, but have the ability to weed out a few of the creepy ones by blocking them completely the way Facebook allows, but that isn’t an option yet.
To be fair, this manner of blocking is quite similar to Twitter. Blocking a user there prevents them from contacting you or following you, but they can still see your public tweets, as they state:
Please note: that if your account is public (i.e., not protected), your Tweets will still be visible on your public profile page.