Nearly two months after Google’s rocky introduction of ‘Buzz,’ the sharing service remains under fire from privacy advocates; eleven congressmen have written a letter to the chairman of the FTC urging the agency to investigate complaints about the service — and, perhaps more ominously for Google (NSDQ: GOOG), also look into the company’s pending deal to buy AdMob. Google announced the AdMob deal in early November but it has been delayed.
Google made significant changes to Buzz soon after it was introduced because of complaints that private information was being made public via the service. However, the congressmen say they “remain concerned that personal information was publicly disclosed without notice or choice and has yet to be appropriately secured.” Specifically, they ask the agency to look into an earlier complaint by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
How does AdMob fit? Here’s how the congressmen put it: “At the same time the company faces challenges protecting consumer privacy, it appears that Google seeks more access to personal information through a deal to acquire AdMob … We understand that the Commission is in the process of reviewing Google’s acquisition of AdMob and we urge that the Commission scrutinize how the deal will affect competition and Google’s incentives to offer robust consumer privacy protections.”
Google said soon after Buzz’s launch that “millions” were already using the service, but in terms of buzz, at least, it has definitely dropped off. TechCrunch noted earlier today — under the headline ‘Google Buzz Getting Smoked In The Sharing Race By A Dead Man’ — that Buzz was sending less traffic to TC than Friendfeed. And another report today showed that while web searches for ‘Google Buzz’ spiked immediately after its launch they have since fallen off dramatically.
Google says it isn’t sharing any new Buzz metrics. As for the letter, a spokeswoman says: “When we realized that we’d unintentionally made many of our users unhappy, we moved quickly to make significant product improvements to address their concerns. Our door is always open to discuss additional ways to improve our products and services moving forward.”