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Google has come up with hare-brained schemes in the past, but few seem to have touched a nerve the way their latest and greatest has, allowing anyone on Google+ to contact you on Gmail.
The Official Gmail Blog announced Thursday that users of the company's Google+ social network can now contact each other via Gmail -- but thankfully there's a way to opt out of the so-called "feature."
The change was made as part of improvements rolling out this week which create deeper ties between the social network few of us actually use and the web-based email everyone seems to love. As part of those changes, Gmail will now suggest Google+ connections as recipients while composing a new email.
However, the feature also makes it possible for Google+ users to contact Gmail users without knowing their email address -- even if they happen to be outside of your circles. Critics complain the feature should have been "opt in" instead of "opt out," but thankfully Google did enable some control for those looking to keep their Gmail address private.
Buried about halfway down the General tab of your Gmail settings is a new "Email via Google+" option which asks, "Who can email you via your Google+ profile?" By default, this is set to "Anyone on Google+," but with a couple of clicks it can be changed to Extended Circles, Circles or even "No one" to disable the feature entirely.
Don't panic if you can't see the option quite yet -- as with most new Google additions, the "feature" is rolling out gradually to users. It's also important to note that Google+ users won't actually know your Gmail address unless you respond to them, and emails sent through the service will wind up being filtered into the Social category of your inbox by default.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter