Google links social network contacts to Gmail
Google has announced a new integration between its social network, Google+, and its email service, Gmail, which will result in some users receiving messages from people with whom they have not shared their email addresses.
The change, which Google announced on Thursday, broadens the list of contacts available to Gmail users to include both the email addresses of their existing contacts, as well as the names of people on the Google+ social network.
The company explained in a blog post that the integration will make it easier for people using Gmail and Google+ to connect with each other over email.
"Have you ever started typing an email to someone only to realise halfway through the draft that you haven't actually exchanged email addresses?" wrote Google product manager David Nachum.
"As an extension of some earlier improvements that keep Gmail contacts automatically up to date using Google+, Gmail will suggest your Google+ connections as recipients when you are composing a new email."
Google said that users who do not wish to receive email messages from other people on Google+ can change the settings so that they receive messages only from people they have added to their Circles, or from no one at all.
However, some privacy advocates have expressed concerns about the new feature, claiming that Google should have sought explicit consent from users to receive messages from other Google+ users, rather than them being required to manually change the setting.
Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of non-profit Electronic Privacy Information Centre, called the new feature "troubling".
"There is a strong echo of the Google Buzz snafu," he said, referring to the social networking service Google launched in 2010, which initially used Gmail users' contact lists to create social networking profiles.
The new feature will be rolling out over the next couple of days to everyone that uses Gmail and Google+. Users will get an email with information and a link to the setting when the feature is available.