Leone Kraus

Google+ Offers a Safe Social Media Experience for the LGBT Community

Filed By Leone Kraus | July 15, 2011 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Google+, lgbt social media, social media ethics

Google recently launched its new social networking product, Google+, which is going head-to-head with the Facebook platform. What makes Google+ different is that it provides users with a way to connect, engage and share information with people within their network in a more easy-to-manage way. Google+ allows you to seamlessly and safely share information with the people you actually want to share certain information with.

A Look at Google+

I've set up an account on the Google+ platform so that you could see some of what the Google+ platform looks like.

Below is a screenshot from my 'Profile' page.

Similar to the layout we've become familiar with through Facebook's platform, Google+ allows users to share status updates, articles and photos.

What makes Google+ different is how users share the content. Google+ allows you to create 'Circles,' which lets you put your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and even fellow bloggers in buckets.

Below is a screenshot showing what I mean. For privacy reasons, I've scrubbed my friend's data but if it were there, you would see their pictures and names.

According to Google+'s 'Privacy and Settings' page:

Circles are groups of people you share content with. The names of your circles and who you add to them are visible only to you, though you can set whether the list of people in all of your circles is visible in your public profile.

To manage your 'Circles,' you simply drag and drop the names into each one that you want them to be placed in.

In addition to making it possible for users to easily share information with the people they want, Google+ has revolutionized mainstream social networking platforms by allowing users to select 'Other' when asked to select a gender during the account set-up process. You're even able to adjust your gender after the account has been created.

Facebook hasn't jumped on board with this gender selection option yet, possibly making Google+ a desirable social media option for those in the transgender community.

AllOut.org, an international LGBT rights advocacy organization, has launched a petition to request that Facebook meet the needs of its users who do not identify as male or female.

AllOut writes in their petition:

As a progressive company that has revolutionized the way we present ourselves to the world, it's time to send a strong message to Facebook, asking that they embrace the right to identify one's gender freely.

Google+ Experiences Strong Growth

Just today, Google's CEO, Larry Page announced that Google+ has hit the 10 million user mark. This kind of social growth for a product that is still in BETA is amazing and hints that social media users may be ready for a different platform.

I've posted previously on the ethics of social media in the LGBT community and the privacy concerns those face when using social platforms like Facebook. With the enhanced changes, it's clear that Google+ is taking the rights steps to ensure that the privacy and identity protections of those in the LGBT community are honored.

What do you think about Google+? With the added security and privacy implementations and the ability to select 'Other' as your gender, will you be opening a Google+ account?

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QueerMage | July 15, 2011 2:57 PM

I have one! I really thing they should improve the gender options (self-identification, please?), since making non-binary people choose "other" is, well, othering. But, it's a step in the right direction. And I love "circles."

Happy birthday, Leone! (I saw it on Facebook! *grins*)

Believe it or not, having all of my various social segments intertwined on Facebook is exactly what I like about it. It keeps me authentic. It makes sure I am the same person with my gay friends as I am with my old high school buddies, and even as I am with the ones who know I'm HIV+ and the ones who know I do drag. After years spent hiding out and lying and compartmentalizing, it feels good to "let it all hang out" to anyone whom I choose to befriend. Hmm. I think I feel a blog posting coming on. ;]

Absolutely Mark. There are those of us who are openly gay and love letting it all hang out. But there are also those who are in situations where this is not the case. Facebook was built with sharing and creating an open environment in mind. Mark Zuckerberg says this in his op-ed piece in The Washington Post last year after he was criticized for creating and environment that is too open.

From what I can tell with my brief test run, Google+ was built for sharing but also for control. Google+ has made it easy for users to share what they want with different groups (circles) of friends. If you want to share with everyone, then there's that option too but it's not as automatic as Facebook has made it. I think this kind of control is what is needed in the evolvement of these social platforms.

It is important to note that Facebook not only explicitly requires the use of legal name and gender, but also has an ongoing record of actively enforcing said policy against trans people.

Because of this and the rest of Facebook's anti-privacy, anti-safety mindset, I plan to outright delete my Facebook account as soon as Google+ is open to the public and I can tell my friends to switch. In the meantime, Facebook is "read only" for me.

Jaime Dunaway Jaime Dunaway | July 16, 2011 9:48 AM

I don't think I'm wanting to try it out until I see if they do anything with all that user info. Also, my facebook is fairly quiet from my end and having another outlet to annoy people just doesn't interest me currently anyway. I don't even have a twitter account.

The "other" selection seems kind of messed up too. Surely they could have come up with something better than that if they actually tried.