Undoing Google’s attempt to open your inbox

Google has announced a new scheme to try to boost its Google+ service by allowing people to email you who don’t have your e-mail address.

This is how the company puts it in its e-mail today:

Ever wanted to email someone you know, but haven’t yet exchanged email addresses? Starting this week, when you’re composing a new email, Gmail will suggest your Google+ connections as recipients, even if you haven’t exchanged email addresses yet.

How it works with email addresses

Emailing Google+ connections works a bit differently to protect the privacy of email addresses. Your email address isn’t visible to your Google+ connections until you send them an email, and their email addresses are not visible to you until they respond.

Receiving email from people outside your circles

If you receive an email from someone outside your circles, it will be filtered into the Social category of the inbox (if enabled) and only after you respond or add them to your circles, can they start another conversation with you.

The New York Times calls the move “ham handed.

It’s good that the company is doing at least that much to protect Gmail users from a barrage of unwanted messages. But the fact that it keeps tying its weak social networking site into its stronger products seems desperate. Like Microsoft before it with its operating system and browser, Google is trying to use its dominant position in one field to push a lesser service onto unsuspecting users.

It is possible to opt out of the scheme, Slate notes:

On balance, it sounds like this service had the potential to be convenient without being invasive—if Google had made it “opt-in” instead of “opt-out.” As it is, my guess is that it’s likely to annoy and confuse a lot of Gmail users who barely even know what Google Plus is and won’t understand exactly what it is that Google’s asking them. A Google spokesperson acknowledged that there’s something to be said for “opt-in” policies from a privacy standpoint, but told me that Google felt it was better on balance to make it “opt-out” so that people could first see what it is they’re opting out of.

None of this is worth freaking out over, according to Mashable:

Even if you do elect to open yourself up to anyone who has you in their Circles, your inbox may not take the hit that many are envisioning.

For starters, any email sent to you from someone you do not have in your Circles will go directly to your “social” inbox — a secondary inbox within Gmail. This means it should stay separate from personal emails you exchange with family and friends, and business emails shared with coworkers. (Corporate accounts that use Gmail will be opted out of this service by default.)

Want out of this deal? From your GMail page, click here:

Then here:

Scroll to here:

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Change this:

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And don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the page and click this:

  • Dave

    This is Google’s agenda these days: annoy people into using their services, and using them the way Google wants you to.

    • Kassie

      Sounds a lot like how Facebook works too.

  • DavidG

    If it’s going to suggest recipients even as you type, I suspect a lot of people are going to be sending information to people they didn’t intend to receive that info.

    It has the potential to be even more mistakenly used than the “reply all” option.

    • Jack Ungerleider

      I disagree. All this sounds like is Google tying G+ Circles to Gmail Contacts. What would be nice is if they made the binding selective on the G+ side as well. Allowing you to specify that certain Circles are not to be linked and others are. The suggestion feature is the same as Gmail does now, it will just have a longer list to work with.

  • Chuck

    Thanks for the step-by-step, Bob. Easy as pie.

  • Suzanne

    Yes, thanks for showing the instructions in screen shots!

  • 2j

    I get tired of social media companies taking actions that require users to opt out versus opt in. Thanks for the easy to follow instructions on opting out.