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Private Google profile owners, prepare to share

We already showed you how easy it was to navigate privacy settings on Google+.

Now there's even more reason to pay attention to those tips. Starting August 1, Google says will make all Google profiles public by default.

Don't panic: you'll still have the option of hiding all your information when people search for you on the Google+ network, all except your name and gender, that is. And, according to the Google+ privacy page, you'll still have the option to stop search engines from indexing your profile.

Why is Google doing this? Google's answer: Well, how can you be social if no one can see you?

They explain:

We believe that using Google Profiles to help people find and connect with you online is how the product is best used. Private profiles don’t allow this, so we have decided to require all profiles to be public.

But compared to Facebook, this seems less private. Greg Finn at Search Engine Land says:

This is also much different than Facebook’s privacy as you are able to virtually vanish by disallowing people to search for you, friend request you, message you or see any of your info.  In Google+, if you have a profile, others can find you within the Google+ network.

A point to note — your Google profile is different from your Google account.

A profile was created when you signed up for Google Buzz, or use Google Maps, Reader and certain other Google products. If you now have a Google+ account, your profile there serves as your Google profile.

If you get queasy about having a public Google profile, even if it only reads, "John Doe, Male," you'll be able to delete the profile, leave Google+ if you had an account there, and still keep your Google account (which is linked to your Gmail, Google Calendars, Google Analytics, etc.)

If you signed up for Google Buzz, or use Google Maps, Reader and certain other Google products, but don't have a Google+ account, you might still have a Google account that's private. If so, you have two choices. Go public, or delete your account.

Do nothing, and Google will delete it for you at August's dawn.

More on Google's social network on msnbc.com:

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about technology and science at msnbc.com. Find her on Twitter, er, Google+, and join our conversation (for now) on Facebook.