Google will soon allow people to send anyone an email, even if they do not have the person’s email address, as long as both people have a Gmail and Google Plus account.
The change, which was announced Thursday and will be introduced over the next few days, was met with protest by some Gmail users, who said it opened the door to spam and unwanted solicitations in personal email inboxes, which are considered private.
So who in your network can you send emails to?
Well, senders can email anyone as long as they follow them on Google Plus, which they are able to do without permission. Recipients can receive email from anyone on Google Plus. Their email addresses only shows up, though, if they reply to the email.
So if you don’t want all those annoying emails most of which are just sales pitches landing on your inbox, what do you do?
It’s simple really. Google has provided an opt-out measure, so that you can choose whether anyone on Google+ can e-mail you, or whether you want to restrict it to Extended Circles, Circles, or disable it entirely. Google+ users who are celebrities, at least on Google+, will have a different default setting. For them, their default setting will be people in their Circles, not everybody on Google+.
People will receive an e-mail in their Gmail inbox when the feature has been activated, which will include a link to your Gmail settings to disable it if you want. All new Google account users will receive the warning e-mail as well.
Google plans to send emails to Gmail users explaining the change before turning it on. Emails received from people outside a Google Plus user’s circles will be filtered into the social tab in Gmail. The default setting for business Gmail accounts is turned off.
The change, which more tightly integrates Gmail with Google Plus, is the latest move by Google to weave its social network into all of its products and to strongly push users to sign up for Google Plus. It comes on the heels of an uproar by many YouTube users after Google required people to join Google Plus to comment on YouTube videos.