In an effort to help its more than a billion users to manage their privacy while online, Google has just rolled out a new tool dubbed About Me, which allows users to control what information about them will appear in any of Google’s services.
Quite obviously, About Me can contain all of your personal information that you submitted to Google when you signed up for its myriad services. It serves as a central hub where you can edit your information and restrict access to some of your data that you might find sensitive enough to be concealed.
The new tool will become available to all Google users this week, including those who have set up an account with YouTube, Google+, Hangouts, Google Maps, Google Play, and other applications by the Mountain View giant. About Me appears to be the replacement for Google+, the search titan’s doomed social networking site.
In the past, before you can sign up for any of the services built by Google, you will have to surrender your personal information to Google+. The data you shared with the social networking site will then be seen by anyone who would interact with you through Google or search for you via the Internet.
Since Google+ has lost its mandate as the legal repository of your personal data when you sign up for Google’s services, About Me seems to be a fitting successor of that role. Unlike Google+ which is a public tool, About Me is a private service, so you don’t have to worry about having your personal information shown to pretty much the entire world.
But be warned that any content you would create on the Google ecosystem and share via the Web will be accompanied by the changes you make with About Me. Also, the people who are connected with you via Google will be able to view your data, according to the landing page at About Me.
So by default, when you first load your page at the About Me website you will see information about your birthday, occupation, gender and contact list if you have previously submitted these data to Google. You can then choose to delete some information from there, but you will be unable to remove your name, birthday (though you can hide your birth year) and your photo.
More likely, the About Me service is another way of Google to monitor your personal data without the need to sign up for Google+. Those who already have a Google+ account will figure out that the set of data contained in About Me is the same as the information in Google+.