Google Listens to Critics and Tweaks Buzz

Amid the hubbub over the launch of Google Buzz, one aspect of the new Gmail social platform has grown more and more contentious: the fact that many people wound up exposing their email and GTalk contacts to the outside world without realizing this would happen (see here for one example — warning: strong language). Some users said they had turned Buzz off as a result, while others said they had avoided following friends because they didn’t want to expose their profiles or emails in this way. Others complained that they couldn’t block users who didn’t already have a public profile, and that it wasn’t clear who would be shown on their public following list and who wouldn’t.

So what did Google do? It listened, and even though the feature has only been available for two days, it has made changes to respond to these criticisms and more. As the company explained in a blog post, it has made the “public or non-public” setting in Buzz more obvious so that users make that decision explicitly, and it has also made it possible for users to block those they don’t want following them regardless of whether that user has a public profile or not, and to see who will be on their public list.

Even though some have argued that the privacy concerns were overblown, it’s nice to see Google responding to its users and making changes so quickly. The company also said in its blog post that in just two days since the launch of Buzz, it has seen more than 9 million posts and comments from users, and that it has been getting over 200 posts per minute from mobile phones around the world.

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