Google+ Circles Are Now Sharable - Not the Twitter Lists Clone You Expected

Google just announced that users of its new social network Google+ can now share their meticulously curated circles of users with the rest of the world. Owen Prater, a software engineer on the Google+ team made the announcement on the service earlier this afternoon and noted that Google hopes that this new feature will allow users “to share and find lots of great content in Google+, while still giving you important controls over how you read and share.” Sadly, it’s exactly those controls that make this feature somewhat different from Twitter’s list feature – and likely not quite what Google+ users expected it to be.

No Subscriptions, Just Copies

While lists on Twitter, for example, are automatically updated for all subscribers when you add or remove accounts from the list, shared Circle won’t reflect these updates. What you are sharing then, in effect, is a version of your Circle as it looks today and that is frozen in time.

Google shared list example

Because of this, you can’t “subscribe” to somebody’s circles either. Instead, you can only make a copy of a circle and add it to your account. That’s easy enough (just give it a name and you’re done), but it’s not quite the same as having an automatically updated list of people that a curator is keeping up to date for you. For power users, that’s a bit of a letdown.

Some of the privacy mechanisms, of course, are smart. When you share a circle, for example, you have to give it a different name, helping you to ensure that you don’t inadvertently give away the derogatory name for the Circle you may have used in private.

This new feature is currently rolling out to all Google+ users, so if it’s not available in your account yet, just give it another hour or two and you should be able to share your Circles as well.