Social Networks

Published on February 13th, 2013 | by Mark

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Google Plus

Google’s own social networking site that uses your Google account to connect you with other Google users as well as giving you access to a host of other web services and third party apps.  It is the second largest social networking site with over 540 million people using it.

You Plus Google

To sign up for a Google Plus account, you have to register for a Google account that lets you use all of Google’s services, including Google Plus.

When signing up for your Google account you’re asked to choose a password that’s at least 8 characters long.  There’s no obligation to use mixed character types (letters and numbers) or different cases (UPPER and lower) – as long as what you type in has 8 characters or more, it’s valid.

Google provides a password strength indicator, but it simply assesses your password on the basis of its length.  Anything less than 8 characters classifies as ‘weak’ whereas if it’s 8 characters or more it’s ‘strong’.  However Google also provides you with a link to an information video on how to choose a strong password on the sign-up page.

Safety Options

You can configure options related to secure access of your account from Google’s central account settings page.  To access this, click on the ‘Home’ drop-down menu at the top-left of the screen and select Settings at the bottom of the list.  On the Account Settings page, click on the Security link on the left-hand menu to enter the Security menu and view the related options.

You can set up two-step verification for your Google Plus account by enabling it from the list of options on the Security page.  To get the security code to access your account you can either have Google send you the code on your mobile phone each time you try to log in or you can generate the code using an app like Google Authenticator for Android, Apple and Blackberry devices that can be downloaded from Google Play or App Store.  If you have a Windows phone, you’ll need to download a compatible third-party app like Authenticator to sign in.

Changing Your Security Settings

Managing your security settings is very easy on Google Plus.  You can access security options for Google Plus by going on the Settings page.  Here you’ll have access to a variety of privacy controls that let you restrict the sharing of your information as well as your profile’s visibility on search engines.

You can access other security settings that relate to your Google account in general from the same page.  Click on the Security option on the left-hand menu to access the most important security options that you need to protect your account including: changing your password, account recovery options, notification of unusual activity, two-step authentication and the possibility to review all the websites and apps that are linked to your Google account.

According to Google’s privacy policy, personal information from your account can be disclosed to third parties, such as when integrating external apps or services to your Google account to use on Google Plus.  It is up to you to decide whether a site or an app should be trusted with your personal information since Google doesn’t review or endorse other websites.

On The Minus Side

Since Google Plus is accessible through your single Google account, deleting the account will remove all other Google services you may use.

However you can choose to disable Google Plus only and therefore remove your profile and the content you shared on this service.  To disable your Google Plus profile, click on the Home drop-down button at the top-left of the screen and choose Settings from the the list that appears.  Scroll down the entire Google Plus settings page to find the section titled ‘Disable Google+’.  Using the options provided here, you can disable Google+ or remove your entire Google profile completely.

Security Report

Although Google is arguably the most important service provider online, it’s social networking site has always played second fiddle to Facebook and Twitter.  Luckily, this means that hacking attempts specifically on Google Plus profiles have been minimal, however hackers trying to break into Google’s servers will have access to all of the users’ connected services, so although it is not specifically targeted, Google Plus is still far from being a safe website.

Multiplying Apps

You can integrate several third party applications and web services on your Google Plus account.  According to its privacy policy, Google does not review or endorse any third party apps or sites and it’s up to you to choose whether to authorise the sharing of your information with these apps or websites.  You can quickly review all the sites and apps that are connected to your Google Plus account on the Google Plus Settings page.  Scrolling down this page, you’ll find a section headed ‘Apps & activities’ which lets you manage your apps and Activity Log, including who can see your Google and third-party activities.  By clicking on the ‘Manage your apps’ button you can see the list of apps and control who can the information they publish on Google Plus.

Tools For Tracking Your Data

Google Plus does not provide you with many tools that help you track how safe your information is.  However on Google’s central setting page, you can view all the data that is associated with your Google account through the Google Dashboard link.

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