Google+ growth slows. Google+

The Google+ team will soon allow its users to hide their gender through a privacy setting to launch later this week.

In a post on her Google+ profile, Frances Haugen, Google+'s profiles product manager, on Tuesday told users that the privacy setting for concealing ones gender will start later this week.

Great news! I'm proud to announce Google+ Profiles is launching a new privacy enhancement in response to user feedback, Haugen wrote. Starting later this week, you will be able to set the privacy setting of your gender on your Google+ Profile just as you control other information about yourself.

In a video about the upcoming enhancements, Haugen said gender can be a sensitive topic, especially on the Internet. She added that one of the things the team uses gender information for on Google+ is for picking pronouns when referring to a user.

Google is committed to building products people all over the world can use, Haugen said, adding that having gender information can make Google+ more conversational.

But if a user decides to make his or her gender private, Google+ will use a gender-neutral term to describe that user whenever someone without permission comes across gender-related information about that user.

For example, instead on saying Tom added you to his circle, you may see a message saying Tom added you to their circle.

Haugen said though such gender-neutral term is isn't grammatically correct, the team values people having control over their privacy more than perfect grammar.

The question is, what could this mean for businesses, notprofits and other organizations who Google+ recently asked to stay away for a while?

Christian Oestlien, the advertising lead on the team behind Google+, recently told the Los Angeles Times that some businesses and other entities created Google+ pages using the current profile designed for people, and not for businesses. He also said engineers are building the business experience for Google+.

Right now we're very much focused on optimizing for the consumer experience, But we have a great team of engineers building a similarly optimized business experience for Google+, Oestlien said in a YouTube video posted to his personal Google+ profile page, as reported by the los Angeles Times. We're very excited about it and we hope to roll it out later on this year. It will include things like rich analytics and the ability to connect that identity to other parts of Google that businesses might use on a daily basis, like AdWords, Google's online advertising operation.

A select number of companies will be chosen to take part in the Google+ experience for businesses.

We will be doing some testing, Oestlien has said. We're going to take a small group of brands, businesses and other entities and create profiles for them and see how users interact with them via circles, through the stream and even how they communicate with them through hangouts.

Does the new privacy enhancement for gender mean that companies like Ford Motor Co., which already own a Google+ page can stay?

After all a message saying, Ford Motor Co. added you to their circle isn't too bad.

Here's how to change the privacy setting for gender on Google+:

Click profile icon at the top of page, which will take you to your Google+ profile;

Click on the 'Edit' button in upper right-hand corner;

Scroll near the bottom of the page and you will see 'Gender;

Click on it and you will see a privacy setting box open that will allow you to select who you want to know your gender.

See Haugen's video here: