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Google Listens to Critics and Tweaks Buzz

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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 (s goog) 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.

27 Responses to “Google Listens to Critics and Tweaks Buzz”

  1. The policy of asking for forgiveness later rather than asking for permission first is becoming a real problem for Google. I couldn’t give a whit for how quickly they respond, because at this point they should be mature and responsible enough to do this the right way first. Enough, already with shoving well-meaning science experiments into the commons.

  2. Uh, no they didn’t listen. There has been no mention, explanation or apology concerning the fact that all GMail users were automatically opted in to Buzz (which is an annoyance), and automatically started following random people from past correspondence, (which is a privacy failure with very negative potential consequences), and publishing the followers and followees by default on public profiles (which is disastrous). This is still the default, all they did was make the otion to disable it “more prominent”.

    Seriously, WTF? Have these people never heard of opt-in?

  3. I think the changes of not showing whom are you following are significant. Google really got used to know everything about everyone, and it’s so easy, and they sometimes forgot about some public privacy. :)

  4. Look, google has a long history of Beta testing things first.. yet this one seems to just get launched. I get that you need a mass of users to make it work so it’s not well suited for beta…

    I can’t cross post Buzz postings (share). I can’t reply to people within Buzz (private message AKA an email).

    The interface is difficult for me to use, there is two much information that is too hard to find. Information gets hidden but i am not sure how / why and how I can adjust that.

    They are doing all of this within the Rubic for Gmail which is limited, and say, facebook is much better because it follows a rubic fitting of the purpose of facebook.

    If I could auto post to Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, then I would be happy and if I could use Buzz to filter those I might be interested.

    The only feature I like is the Search, which is sorta hidden at the top of the page which lets me search the Buzz of those whom I am NOT following..

  5. Google Buzz might be facing criticism regarding the privacy but I think it is good thing as it provides you a lot of details about the user at other end. Most of us had to face problems using social media websites where people come with fake identities and deceive us. Google Buzz will reduce that. I hope you do agree with me Mr. Ingram.