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Google+ opens to teens, adds new safety features

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Google+ has just been opened to users between the age of 13 and 18. Google has also added several new features that it says will protect the privacy and safety of these younger users.

Google+ Teens
Google+ Teens

Starting today, the Google+ clubhouse will no longer be adults-only. Google+ VP Bradley Horowitz has just announced that anyone old enough for a Google account — which in most countries means people age 13 and up — can now join the social network; before, the limit was 18. This move places Google+ on similar footing with Facebook, which has long allowed teenagers to have accounts.

While Google's Circles already provide fairly fine-tuned control over who sees your information, users under 18 will be getting a few additional privacy features. If a younger user marks a post "Public," they'll be warned that people outside their circles will see it. Moreover, only people in that user's circles will be able to contact them directly by default.

Hangouts, which provide live video and audio, also have been changed to accommodate the younger set. If someone from outside a teen's circles joins the Hangout, audio and video will be cut off for the younger user, and they'll be asked whether or not they want to rejoin. It's not clear yet how this will work for public Hangouts like Barack Obama's, where strangers will be joining frequently, but in more personal conversations it gives minors a chance to block contact with unwanted guests.