Top execs get more private, even less social on Google+

Last week, some top Google executives and engineers shut off access to the list of people they follow. Yesterday, those execs locked things down even further, hiding the list of people who follow them. Here's how they did it.

Last week, I noticed a curious fact: many top Google execs and engineers had big follower counts but appeared to have no friends.

Today, I decided to pay a follow-up visit to Social Statistics, where the original list came from.

Surprise! That list has changed radically. Previously, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Google+ head Vic Gundotra were in the top 5 (behind Mark Zuckerberg and ahead of Robert Scoble) on Google+, as measured by number of followers. Today their names are completely missing from the top 100, along with a whole bunch of other Googlers.

Indeed, if you go to those pages, you will now find no indication of how many people are following them. Here, see for yourself:

A note at the top of the Social Statistics leader board acknowledges the sudden change:

Some google+ members have further closed off their accounts last night which means you won't be able to track their follower and following counts. This completely reshuffled the top 100. More information in a post at The Next Web. Why not tweet this news?

At The Next Web, Joel Falconer confirms the changes:

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, who created SocialStatistics.com and is a co-founder of The Next Web, says that Matt Cutts, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Vic Gundotra and Marissa Mayer all changed their profiles overnight and consequently dropped out of the top 100.

They’re not using a secret, insider-only option. This is just a further tightening of the privacy settings that I documented here last week. Follow those instructions to return to this dialog box, which shows the default settings.

Indeed, if you want to go stealth on Google+, all you have to do is clear both of those checkboxes. I just confirmed that clearing the two checkboxes immediately makes one’s profile look just like Zuckerberg’s, or Page’s, or Brin’s.

And once again, I feel compelled to ask the question I asked last week: If Google feels that standardizing on these settings is important for their privacy, why isn’t it the default for the rest of us?

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