Wednesday, August 15th 2018

Google Buzz: Privacy FAIL

Courtesy of:

I’m a fan of Google. A HUGE fan. For instance, Gmail and Gchat have both saved my life, and couple of yours, in the past. In my eyes, Google = best. However, when I heard the hype surrounding Google Buzz, I couldn’t help but think that Buzz might actually be a disaster.

My fears were actually confirmed when I received messages that were similar to this:

“Your high school Spanish teacher is now following you on Buzz!”

Like, excuse me? No.

Buzz just appeared in my Gmail one morning (February 9th, to be exact) – with no real warning or disclaimers for Gmail users. And, to make matters worse, I already had ‘followers’ and ‘people I followed’. Granted, these people were friends/family that I frequently emailed. But, did I actually want the world to see who I email on a daily basis? Not really…and I’m sure you do not want to, either. Can I get some privacy here?

Buzz is Google’s take on social networking – think Twitter in more than 140 characters and Facebook status updates. You can update your status, and it appears to all your followers – or anyone really, if you have a public status. So, if Google’s merely riding on the popularity of Twitter and Facebook, why are so many people grumbling about Buzz?

The main difference is that with Twitter and Facebook, a person consciously makes the decision to sign up for the websites. You know, they are usually convinced to join by a friend and, subsequently, go through the whole dilemma of ‘What should my Login be?’. But, Buzz didn’t give you the option to make that decision. If you are a Gmail user, then you automatically became a Buzz user…thus, giving the world a peek into your email contact list.

And, considering the many recent news stories about Buzz, I’m not the only one concerned about the privacy. According to reports, Washington DC based EPIC (or “Electronic Privacy Information Center”) filed a complaint with the FTC about Buzz. The complaint states that EPIC requests that the FTC:

• Compel Google to make Google Buzz a fully opt-in service for Gmail users.

• Compel Google to cease using Gmail users’ private address book contacts to compile social-networking lists.

• Compel Google to give Google Buzz users more control over their information, by allowing users to accept or reject followers from the outset.

Further, on February 18, 2010, Google was slapped with a class-action complaint by law firms in San Francisco and Washington DC. The complaint claims that Buzz “unexpectedly exposed relationships users had with others”. In addition, the complaint cites that Google Buzz  violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Google has addressed user’s concerns since introducing Buzz. Users no longer automatically follow other users, thankfully. Instead, you are given ‘suggestion’ boxes of people you may want to follow. And, if you want to get rid of Buzz completely, you can opt-out through your Gmail settings.

Although I’m a social media lover, Buzz still hasn’t won me over. I guess something about being ‘forced’ into it just didn’t appeal to me. For now, I’m perfectly content sticking with the other sites. Twitter, Yelp, Facebook – ftw!

(Want to know more about Buzz and Privacy Settings? Check out this article for helpful tips!)

Posted by Melanie on March 3, 2010 at 4:21pm.

One Response to “Google Buzz: Privacy FAIL”

  1. [...] last month, Melanie wrote about the Electronic Privacy Information Center filing a complaint and law firms in San Francisco [...]

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