Google Hangouts has become one of the preferred communication apps and messaging platforms for many people in recent times. However, the question on the minds of many Hangouts users is: are Google Hangouts chats private? Is the app entirely safe for use? This page will give you straightforward answers to these questions and also offer some tips to help you secure your account.
Google Hangouts Privacy
Your chats in Google Hangouts can only be visible to the participants in the conversation. No one outside your chat can see your messages unless you invite them to join, or someone from the conversation deliberately shares your discussion outside the app.
However, you should be aware that Google archives your text messages on Hangouts just as it is done on other social media platforms. Therefore, to answer the question: are Google Hangouts chats private? The answer is yes!
Google Hangouts Security
No one besides participants can see, read, or hear your conversations in Google Hangouts because they are encrypted. But because it is not end-to-end encryption, government agencies with the appropriate authority can request and have access to your conversations in Hangouts. Google only grants such requests if there is a good reason. That means unless you are on the run or guilty of a crime, there’s no need to worry about this.
Google Hangouts Safety
Your information on Google Hangouts is encrypted to protect your privacy and safety. Nevertheless, it would be best if you were sure about the people you chat with using Hangouts. The software only ensures the privacy, security, and safety of your information and conversations, but it does not vouch for Hangouts users or their intentions. This means that while Google will not expose you to unnecessary risks, you need to take extra steps to protect your account.
4 Safety Tips for Using Google Hangouts
Hackers and scammers are always on the lookout for an opportunity to defraud unsuspecting users. Someone else may have access to your Google Hangouts account if you notice any of the following suspicious activities.
- Unfamiliar changes to your recovery email address or phone number
- A new alternate email address that you don’t know
- Location sharing without your permission
- Turning on or off of 2-Step verification without your knowledge
- Notification of a sign-in into your account from an unknown device
- A red bar at the top of your screen notifying you that suspicious activity has been detected on your account
If you find yourself asking, “Are Google Hangouts chats private?” it is likely that you have experienced one or more of these suspicious activities. But whether or not you suspect that your account has been accessed by someone else, it is crucial to be proactive and put safety measures in place to prevent scams. Here are four ways to ensure that your Google Hangout Chats stay private.
1. Only Communicate with Known Contacts
The first tip is to limit your communication to the people you know and trust, for example, friends, family, and colleagues. The cyberspace is crawling with spammers and scammers, so you should be cautious about accepting requests from total strangers. You can prevent unknown people from contacting you directly by making a few changes in your Google Hangouts settings. Here’s how to do that:
- Open Gmail or visit Google Hangouts
- Choose Settings from the menu if you are on the Google Hangouts. Click the drop-down arrow next to your account name if you are in Gmail
- Click “Customize invite setting” (usually, the last option)
- Click “Customize” and choose who can contact you directly and who needs an invite
2. Sign Out from Public or Shared Devices
If you use a public or shared device to access your Hangouts account, make sure you sign out when you finish your chats. To do that, click on your profile image and then click sign out. Doing so will prevent others from accessing your account.
3. Use a Strong Password
The worst types of passwords are:
- Personal information (for example, mary1980, joe2010, etc)
- Keyboard patterns (for example, 1qazxc, qwerty, etc)
- Number patterns (for example, 123123, 11111, 123456, etc)
These are all easy to guess. Instead, use a combination of upper and lower characters, numbers, and symbols to create a strong password for your account. For example, 1Cv9$d&21!M.
4. Block Unwanted Contacts
Apart from choosing who can contact you directly and adding new contacts, you can also view all your contacts and decide which ones to keep and those that need to be blocked. Sometimes, you may no longer need someone on your contact list, for example, a colleague who has left your company, a student who has been expelled from your school, or an estranged partner. Keeping such people on your contact list may pose a certain level of security risk.
To see everyone on your contact:
- Open Gmail or go to Google Hangouts
- Click Hangout Contacts or Contacts to view all your contacts
Unfortunately, you cannot delete contacts in Google Hangouts; you can only hide them. Hiding a contact doesn’t remove the person from your list. The only way to stop someone from contacting you in Hangouts is by blocking them. To do that:
- Go to Google Hangouts
- Select the contact to block by clicking the “Contacts” icon (it looks like two people) or the “Conversation” icon (it looks like a text message)
- Click the gear icon in the window appears.
- Click “Block and Report.”
- You can tick the “Also report” checkbox if you want to report them for abuse
- Click the “Confirm” button to block them
If you want to delete a contact permanently, go to Google Contacts to do so. Keep in mind that they still have you on their contact list and can communicate with you unless you block them first before deleting.
Keep in mind that though Google Hangout chats are private, secure, and safe, protecting your account provides extra layers of protection against scammers and fraudsters.