I have encountered a privacy issue with Google hangouts that it seems Google has not considered. I am teaching a small graduate class and we are using Google hangouts. The quality of hangouts is better than the service purchased by the university and easy to use as well. Because I meet with these online students at a specific time, there are occasions when all students cannot attend. This situation is common when a course involves working students who may attend from several different time zones. Hangouts offers a convenient method for saving and serving video from the class. Hangouts “on air” saves a session to YouTube.
Here is the issue and the option it seems Google may not have considered. I am not particularly interested in opening up the class to causal observers. This is not a problem with a hangout as you can invite those in a circle and this limits access. However, if you also want to record the session, Google appears to assume you want to make the hangout public. This reveals the live feed in Google+.
My assumption is that Google assumes those wanting to share a video on YouTube in the future also want to make the video available as recorded. This would make sense in situations in which it was desirable to offer a video feed to more than the 10 individuals allowed to participate. The situation in which you want to limit access seems to have been ignored.
I suppose this was the case with last year’s summer class as well and I just did not realize it was happening. When participating in a hangout, one would seldom also watch the stream in Google+.
If there is a way to avoid this situation, I do not know what it is (perhaps it new options are available in the upgrade just released). The best I can do is to delete the announcement of the hangout in the Google+ stream after the class session has ended. This is not a serious issue for me, but it just seems strange that the opportunity to limit access to a circle (or circles) is then reversed by also making anything saved to YouTube a live public feed.