Google has announced a new feature for Gmail that will allow anyone with an account on Google+ to send you an email through the network. While you aren’t able to see anyone else’s email address unless you are the recipient (or they have replied to you), it is possible to email anyone that has a Google+ account by selecting their profile from a drop down menu when you are writing an email.
One thing to bear in mind is that Google’s default setting is to allow anyone to email you if you have a Google+ account. However, this is a setting to that can changed, and it will function similarly to Facebook’s privacy settings in that it will be based on how many degrees of separation there are between you on Google+.
For example, you change the setting so that instead of anyone on Google+ being able to email you, this privilege can be extended to people in your Extended Circles, only those in your actual Circles, or you can disable the functionality altogether by selecting the ‘No one’ option. People who aren’t in any of your circles will also be constricted to only contacting you once, unless you subsequently reply to them or add them to one of your Circles.
Before you start to worry that you’re already susceptible to barrages of unwarranted communications from people you don’t know, a Google spokesperson told ReadWrite’s Selena Larson that Google+ users will be alerted to the new feature via email, and that it won’t be active until all of those emails have gone out.
So what do you think of the new feature? Is it a good idea that will make it easier for us to communicate and connect with new people, or has another privacy barrier been torn down? Given that you can turn the feature off altogether, you do have the choice as to whether or not you allow yourself to be contacted by strangers, although it might have been better if it was as an opt-in feature rather than enabled as default.