Google seems to have created all sorts of Facebook-like privacy concerns with their newly released Google Buzz. Some interesting reactions below:
When you first go into Google Buzz, it automatically sets you up with followers and people to follow. A Google spokesperson tells us these people are chosen based on whom the users emails and chats with most using Gmail.
That’s fine. The problem is that — by default — the people you follow and the people that follow you are made public to anyone who looks at your profile. In other words, before you change any settings in Google Buzz, someone could go into your profile and see the people you email and chat with most.
Let’s be crystral clear: Our problem with Google Buzz has always been that, during new account setup, new users have to opt-out of publishing two lists: their followers and who is following them. That wouldn’t be a problem, except these lists are made up of the people users have, in their past, emailed and chatted with most.
The tweaks Google pushed last night do not change this option to opt-in. They do, however, make it easier for users to opt-out.
Merging something designed for public broadcasting (Buzz) with something inherently private (Gmail) was justlooking for trouble.
Google is – deservedly – getting a lot of heat for the fact that its latest social product has a number of privacy flaws baked into it by design.
They’ve since made some improvements to the product, but that’s not where the story ends.
But in the case of Buzz, you’re having whole conversations anyone can see. It’s a little off-putting, especially in the aforementioned Gmail context. When I first opened Buzz and saw conversations from random people I’ve emailed (whom aren’t my real friends or contacts and have no care of following), I felt like I had violated someone else’s privacy.
I can see why Buzz tried to infer the social network because it’s just easier to gain traction that way but I think it comes at a real cost. At least with FB, your network has been vetted by you. I don’t think Google gets that. Sometimes algorithms work… sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you need humans to make decisions.
On top of that, let’s say you’ve customized your Google profile page with the vanity URL Google helpfully offers at the bottom of the page. Well, that’d be your e-mail handle. Anytime anyone does an @ reply to you, they’ve broadcast your e-mail address to the world.