Google’s new social network Google+ is offering an option to hide gender for people who don’t want to be identified as male or female.
The site, which is currently invite-only, included the option after feedback from early users. Previously, all users had to choose a gender.
Explaining the changes in a YouTube video, product manager Frances Haugen said: “Gender can be a sensitive topic, especially on the internet. Starting this week, you will be able to set the privacy setting on your gender on your Google+ profile, just as you control other information about yourself.”
After emphasising the importance of gender in some cultures, she added that users who select the option will be given gender neutral information – for example, updates about friends will not mention their genders.
She said: “And this is grammatically questionable – you don’t need to message me about it – but we valued helping people control their privacy as being much more important than being grammatically perfect.”
Comments on the video suggested a mixed reaction. Some users welcomed the changes, while others said Google should go further and allow gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘ve’ or ‘zie’.