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Google Buzz Changes Privacy Policy After Complaints

added by Michael on 21 Feb 2010

Google Buzz launched Tuesday, a social networking application integrated with GMail. 

 

Google plunged into the world of social networking on Tuesday, melding pieces of Facebook and Twitter into a new feature, Google Buzz.

 

Buzz, which will work through the popular Gmail service, will allow users to post status updates, photos and links to members of their network -- as well as pull in their activity on other sites like Twitter, Flickr and Picasa.

 

Google spokesman Bradley Horowitz said the service, which was rolling out to some Gmail users Tuesday afternoon and should be available to all in the next couple of days, aims to weed out what he called the clutter of other networking sites.

With networking sites, "there's obviously value there," he said. "It's a phenomenon that's real, but it's increasingly becoming harder and harder to make sense and find the signal in the noise."

 

By letting users post photos, links and updates openly, the tool would mimic Twitter's micro-blogging format. But users also will be able to make their content available to "friends only," more closely following the Facebook model.

 

Although users *can* make their content available to "friends only", an  auto-follow feature inspired a public outcry over privacy concerns.

 

Responding to criticism of the privacy settings on Buzz, Google moved over the weekend to address concerns about its new social network service.

 

It also included an auto-follow feature that aimed to make getting started on Buzz quick and simple by having new users follow their most frequent e-mail and chat contacts without clicking on anything.

 

But users were furious their contacts would be revealed to the public before they even created a Buzz profile.

 

"We've heard your feedback loud and clear, and since we launched Google Buzz four days ago, we've been working around the clock to address the concerns you've raised," said Todd Jackson, Gmail and Google Buzz product manager, in a blog post Saturday.

 

For some, it was much more than a simple inconvenience, or embarrassment.

 

From the Silicon Valley's Mercury News:

 

As it introduced a new social hub, Google quickly learned that people's most frequent e-mail contacts are not necessarily their best friends.

 

Rather, they could be business associates, or even lovers, and the groups don't necessarily mix well. It's one reason many people keep those worlds separate by using Facebook for friends and LinkedIn for professional contacts, or by keeping some people completely off either social circle despite frequent e-mails with them.

 

Google drew privacy complaints this week when it introduced Buzz and automatically created circles of friends based on users' most frequent contacts on Gmail. Just days later, Google responded by giving users more control over what others see about them.

 

 

Google introduced Buzz on Tuesday as part of its existing Gmail service. The service includes many of the features that have turned Facebook into the Web's top spot for fraternizing with friends and family. Like Facebook, Buzz lets Gmail users post updates about what they are doing or thinking. Gmail users can also track other people's updates and instantly comment on them for everyone else in the social circle to see.

 

Whereas Facebook requires both sides to confirm that they are friends before making that relationship public, Google automatically does so by analyzing how often they've communicated in the past. Those frequent contacts become part of the circle of people you follow and who follow you.