The reason for this change probably has something to do with competing with Facebook and Apple. Both of these companies have successfully unified user data to create a profitable ecosystem (so to speak) that reacts to user activity.
I don’t know about you, but I find this a bit disturbing. I don’t want any company tracking me and knowing my every move on the internet.
Up to here, this sounds a little bit unrelated. However, it leads to the next news bulletin, which is that Google+ will allow minors (ages 13 and up) to join. Starting in March, teenagers can start sharing their life with their friends and family, all the while being tracked by Google. Under this new policy, the information gathered about teenagers can be combined to provide Google with a handy online portrait about them.
Before you start fretting, remember that websites like Facebook have been doing this, or something very similar to this, for quite some time. So far, it has worked out well enough. Also, Google+ has some privacy settings and features that give it a slight advantage over other social networks. For example, teens can create Circles with their friends in them and then only share content with those friends. There will also be some new features that will only be available for teenagers. Warnings will be shown to minors when they make public posts, and contact with people outside of their circles will be turned off by default. All of these features helps ensure that personal information doesn’t leak out into the public.
Allowing minors to join is probably a good move for Google+. It will help their social network community grow and compete with the 800 million user strong Facebook. But is this new policy and age requirement better for the experience and privacy of us users? We’ll have to wait and see.