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Is Google making your phone’s photos public?

Google+ offers Instant Photo upload

The above commercial caused quite a stir at AGBeat last week as many of us panicked and pulled out our phones to try to determine whether or not Google was putting all of our phone’s pictures on our Google+ stream without our knowing. The Google+ app has existed on Android for some time, and has now been updated for iOS to offer “Instant Upload” which automatically uploads any new photos from your phone to Google+.

For Android users, the upload is literally instant, but for iOS users, you have to have the Google+ app open for photos to upload, and most people are using it as a bypass for Dropbox.

So what happens if your photo contains old personal pictures of your belly last year before you started hitting the gym or of your kids taking a bath? If you have not installed the Google+ app on your smartphone, they are still private, but if you have downloaded the Google+ app, any pictures taken after the installation are shared on your Google+ account through Instant Upload if you have given permission.

Manish Chacko, Technical Marketing Manager at SolarWinds said, “The photos are instantly uploaded to Picasa which is integrated with Google+-they are not published-Google always asks you if you want to publish or not. So, this is an awesome backup service but the pics are still private and only visible to you-unless you chose otherwise.”

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The solution to keeping your photos private is to either revoke permission to share or if you’re paranoid, uninstall the Google+ app altogether, but the idea of all photos being backed up is a huge relief to anyone who relies on their smartphone’s camera for their job – office photos, real estate listing shots, product launch pics, appraisal documentation and the like can all be saved when a phone is lost or damaged.

Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Manish Chacko

    February 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    The photos are instantly uploaded to Picasa which is integrated with Google+-they are not published-Google always asks you if you want to publish or not. So, this is an awesome backup service but the pics are still private and only visible to you-unless you chose otherwise 🙂

  2. Jody

    February 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    "Instant Upload" can be turned off in the G+ Android app. I've had the app for awhile, and nothing of mine is getting uploaded that I know of..

    Even if you do use Instant Upload, Google says "Nobody can see them unless you explicitly share them.", so I would assume that photos are private until you share them.

  3. Jeff

    February 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    ALL PHOTOS ARE STORED PRIVATELY AND CAN ONLY BE VIEWED BY YOURSELF UNLESS YOU MAKE THEM PUBLIC

  4. mats

    February 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    What? they aren't published automatically! What are you on about?! You have to actively share them for anyone to be able to see them.

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