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Google+ Makes Its First Big Mistake

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Jeez. You introduce a heavily integrated social network and suddenly everything has to cater to it.

A little over a week ago, Google launched Google+ and people are in a frenzy -- gushing over the video chat Hangouts, raving about the control Circles provide, and if you're Facebook, fretting that it's a viable alternative. The press and tech analysts have been more than kind to the new service, and many see Google+ making huge strides once invites are back open to the public.

But the current closed-door policy won't be the only thing Google will change.

Mashable's Ben Parr reports that the Search Giant will be changing the names of Picasa and Blogger to make them clearer Google brands. The photo service Picasa will be rebranded as "Google Photos," and Blogger will be renamed "Google Blogs." Parr adds that other Google services could also be affected.

The changes will occur, according to Mashable's sources, "in a month to a month and a half." This seems to roughly coincide with the date when Google+ is opened to the public.

However, an even bigger change is coming for the end of this month, and no one's too happy about it: All private Google profiles will be deleted.

In a broad sweeping stroke, Google is making sure that everyone with a Google profile or Google+ account will be seachable in their system. Posting the news in its help section, the company writes:

The purpose of Google Profiles is to enable you to manage your online identity. Today, nearly all Google Profiles are public. We believe that using Google Profiles to help people find and connect with you online is how the product is best used. Private profiles don't allow this, so we have decided to require all profiles to be public.

Keep in mind that your full name and gender are the only required information that will be displayed on your profile; you'll be able to edit or remove any other information that you don't want to share.

If you currently have a private profile but you do not wish to make your profile public, you can delete your profile. Or, you can simply do nothing. All private profiles will be deleted after July 31, 2011.

At face value, requiring that only your name and gender be displayed in exchange for a Google profile may be a small matter. But the privacy implications of the mandate -- "Make this profile public or it's gone" -- is far too draconian at a time when privacy and securing personal information is at the forefront of online users' minds. Have they forgotten the uproar over the location tracking of iPhones, Androids, and other devices?

Rebranding Picasa and Blogger aside, this is far too early in the lifespan of Google+ to pull any stunt that undermines what originally made it such an attractive alternative to Facebook in the first place.

(See also: Facebook Panics Over Google+ Craze and Google+ Can't Keep Up with "Insane Demand")

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