Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications







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Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications
by Robin Wauters on Feb 12, 2010 Merging something (1 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

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Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

designed for public broadcasting (Buzz

) with

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something inherently private (Gmail ) was just looking for trouble .

Google is -deservedly – getting a lot of heat for the fact that its latest social product has a number of privacy flaws baked into it by design. They’ve since made some improvements ends. Some people think the complaints are unwarranted and the issues not all that bad , while to the product, but that’s not where the story

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some think it’s mostly annoying and others don’t even know there are issues yet (or that Google launched something new at all). And then there those whose lives are already being impacted by the privacy loopholes in Google Buzz – and not all in a good way. See for example this story of an anonymous woman who writes a (self-proclaimed) feminist )

blog, which she started after leaving an abusive marriage. (found on Hacker News Hint: the title is ‘Fuck you, Google’. An excerpt: I use my private Gmail account to email my boyfriend and my mother. There’s a BIG drop-off between them and my other “most frequent” contacts. You know who my third most frequent contact is? My abusive ex-husband.

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Which is why it’s SO EXCITING, Google, that you AUTOMATICALLY allowed all my most frequent contacts access to my Reader, including all the comments I’ve made on Reader items, usually shared with my boyfriend, who I had NO REASON to hide my current location or workplace from, and never did. You can read the rest of the story in the blog post, but needless to say this woman is justifiably very angry with the Mountain View company. (2 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Just a taste

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Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

Now, I’m sure some of our readers will have an answer ready. That she should have changed this setting or not have touched that one, but that would be beside the point. Which is that even with the improvements that were made to the Buzz product, Google is confusing the hell out of people here – and make some lives hell for them to boot. Expect more stories like this. (Hat tip to Alex Kaminski , photo credit Flickr / sunside )

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Google Buzz is a social network and sharing product built by Google. Based within Google Profiles, Buzz offers a stream of status updates, pictures, links, and videos from your friends. You can… Learn More
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Cezz - February 12th, 2010 at 6:05 am UTC

It is very bad practice, OK to work off a case of suggestive follow then fine but to actually Autofollow is not acceptable and Google do need to fix this yesterday. reply


Amit Bhawani

- February 12th, 2010 at 6:40 am UTC

Atleast this specific lady had a very bad issue with the new Buzz and auto info sharing option

reply (4 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

Scientia Magazine

- February 13th, 2010 at 7:07 pm UTC

Privacy is always required – either for good or bad reasons !! reply

lea - February 14th, 2010 at 12:07 am UTC

With the ability to share status updates content both video, audio and articles, Google could change Web 2.0 and create a service bringing real time in line with Youtube, Gmail, Blogger as well as integrating Twitter and Facebook to allow Social Networking to reach new levels Reasons to use it: reply

Same as the lady in trouble - February 14th, 2010 at 5:50 am UTC

I have the same issue as the lady. Why would you open doors to everyone? Is this a newspaper? Whoever handled privacy issues in this product????? reply

realityindreams - March 3rd, 2010 at 5:56 am UTC

classic! “Is this a newspaper?” When did our personal relationships and events become a “drama” or “tv series” that could be displayed so guiltlessly and casually to -anyone-??? these companies that are starting to dominate the world must really re-assess about the important values of human communication!! (5 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

X_x reply


:-O - February 12th, 2010 at 7:15 am UTC

This is Google’s Facebook Beacon. Massive fail… And the first time someone, like this user with the abusive ex, gets hurt…or worse…killed…you can expect a legislative & litigious backlash against the Mothership. “F$@k you, Google, indeed.” reply


Cotton - February 12th, 2010 at 9:11 am UTC

How do you turn off Buzz? What ever happened to opting into services? Yahoo! did something similar (but different) in their mail client. Now when you send an email to someone, they show you recent updates from that persons other Yahoo! properties (flickr, profile etc.). These companies are actually doing more damage for information sharing than good. reply

pocket - February 12th, 2010 at 4:02 pm UTC

Scroll to the very bottom of you gmail window and there is a TINY link which reads “Disable Buzz.” I already did… reply (6 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

The Sanctimommy - February 13th, 2010 at 7:07 am UTC

That doesn’t actually disable any of Buzz’s features for anyone else. It just means you don’t see the little Buzz logo on your page. Your profile page is still public to anyone else: there is no way to turn that off. reply

David Poignand - February 13th, 2010 at 8:16 pm UTC

I think you can make your Google Profile completely private, can’t you?

iPodsMakeZombies - February 13th, 2010 at 9:50 pm UTC

Holy crap…well I found the turn off feature but if this is true that it only turns it off for me and not for people viewing me….I think I’ve had it with Google. I got really worried when the CEO said “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” That’s not the person I want with access to my private information… Looks like it’s time to start looking for alternatives to all things Google….

lisa - February 20th, 2010 at 6:58 am UTC

you can totally delete your Buzz profile. go into the settings and delete it. (note, this doesn’t delete your google profile, just Buzz.)

Same as the lady in trouble - February 14th, 2010 at 5:52 am UTC (7 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications



PC - February 12th, 2010 at 9:22 am UTC

There are the 2 points I’ve been making in my debates over buzz. 1) Email is private and between recipients. But Buzz is obviously open and broadcasting. To me, these products do not belong in the same spot.. at least not yet. It would be different if Buzz were under a separate interface or if Gmail was more of a new product instead of a solid product used for serious work. 2) Opt-in vs opt-out combined with the Twitter-like anybody-can-follow model. One of the first things that irked me about Twitter was that strangers could follow me. In time, I didn’t care much since I became more Twitter consumer than producer. Also tweets, by their very own nature, don’t give away too much privacy. But in the case of Buzz, you’re having whole conversations anyone can see. It’s a little offputting, especially in the aforementioned Gmail context. When I first opened Buzz and saw conversations from random people I’ve emailed (whom aren’t my real friends or contacts and have no care of following), I felt like I had violated someone else’s privacy. I can see why Buzz tried to infer the social network because it’s just easier to gain traction that way but I think it comes at a real cost. At least with FB, your network has been vetted by you. I don’t think Google gets that. Sometimes algorithms work… sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you need humans to make decisions. reply

ExGmailer - February 13th, 2010 at 2:10 am UTC

I used to use Gmail for my main email, but grew concerned about privacy in the last two months. I guess I was right…I know have a private email account using a private domain name. (8 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications


lisa - February 20th, 2010 at 7:00 am UTC

you can make your Buzz posts private. you have to create a group of people that can see your posts. reply

guest - February 27th, 2010 at 2:19 pm UTC

You seem to be a member of the team which created this awful privacy problem. reply


merry - February 12th, 2010 at 9:36 am UTC

Relax.. they’re just starting… It has been what? 3 days? There’s a lot of room for improvement here. I guess, this could be the answer that we are all waiting for… How to arrange the big socialmess (created by FB, twitter, etc? Answer: Google Buzz. Rumors suggest this would be connected to Google Wave.. Now that’s sweet should-you-use-it reply


Danno - February 12th, 2010 at 1:59 pm UTC

@merry: Screw you spammer. You’ve been linking to your post on every single Google Beacon (uh, I mean “Buzz”) article on TC since it launched. (9 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications


martin - February 12th, 2010 at 2:36 pm UTC

Don’t be silly, how can people relax when google is broadcasting people’s information they consider private. Would you be happy if it was your dirty linen which google was doing what ever they want with. Yes it’s only three days, but what happened to beta testing and opting out. Oh I remebered they are rushing to get buzz out there so they can beat MS who talked about some like this last year. Google dont want the title of copy cat, at the cost of Gmail user privacy. If this was the much hated MS Bloggers would have destroyed them, but good old google they never do wrong. This is going to make google apps unattractive to enterprise user coz at the end of the day privacy matters to them more than casual users like us. I am gald I’m not with Gmail. reply

mantrik00 - February 13th, 2010 at 11:24 pm UTC

@martin, since you have admitted that you are not using gmail, you obviously don’t know what you are talking about. Users of Gmail would know that in Buzz when you make a public post it is available in the public domain. You also have an option to make a private post which only allows the respective recipients to see it. It is people like you who have very little to do with Google or ones who are negatively motivated are making the loudest noise. All credit to Google, they have launched a nice product which enables a convenient way for social networking. Also, minor issues like auto following and email ids being displayed in case of replies, have already been taken care of. In any case, the hue n cry over these minor issues was like making a mountain of a mole hill. reply (10 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications


- February 14th, 2010 at 9:37 pm UTC

Auto Follow is a bad idea. I think they have turned it into Auto-Suggest. What I think the big problem is the fact that I know people who have lost their jobs for spending too much time at work social networking. What happens when employers learn that Gmail is a social network? Will they fire people for using it during work? reply


- February 12th, 2010 at 6:09 am UTC

Google needs a wake up slap. Their arrogance is historic. Plating as the one media company that doesn’t have to listen isn’t based on a superiority of minds, but an awkward social incompetence. I’m in disbelief that they are so detached, so brazenly arrogant in their drive for more $$, that they even shipped this horrific “product”. And before the snotty nosed geek set starts the old, tired, “It’s free. It’s a few buttons”, just shut up. You’re juvenile misunderstanding of enterprise business systems is noise pollution. In grown up life, there are expectations around passive payment platforms. They make a lot more money with your “free” Gmail account than you could comprehend. Bravo for your post, Harriet! reply


martin - February 12th, 2010 at 2:46 pm UTC (11 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

This is yet another attemt by google to get their hands on more of our data, even more from those gmail account users. This is going to be a huge turn of to the enterprise user because privacy matters more to them than casual users. MS idea idea for outlook connector google rush and do a copy cat and MS look the copy cat because google got to the finish line first. But at least MS had the desency to beta test theirs first. Google in the name of victory disregard user privacy and opting out. Shame on you. Yet another PR dissaster because of arrogance. reply


badedukation - February 13th, 2010 at 2:21 pm UTC

Because if there’s someone who understands enterprise business it’s some that writes like you. Good job! reply

Alvin B. - February 12th, 2010 at 6:12 am UTC

Seriously, I don’t have any of these kind of privacy issues myself with gmail, BUT I can see why so many people are upset. Companies (and some people) are getting WAY too comfortable sharing everything online. I don’t go online to be social with strangers. Yet, in the drive to build networks and therefore ad revenue, companies like Google, Facebook et al. have been pushing sharing like a bad pimp. I’m personally SICK of it. It is to the point where I can’t post anything online because it is instantly seen by my sisters, mother, best friend and any potential employers. And if it isn’t connected now – IT WILL BE. Now we can’t even keep our damned email private. What next Google? Google TwatView, so you can decide if it’s worth stalking that hot chick you saw at the mall, snapped a shot of, and used Google’s face recognition technology to find online, and then found her home with Google Latitude, and checked it out on Streetview? Oh, and you even know her hubby’s out of town thanks to Layar Reality Browser on your android phone showing you the nearby tweet saying as much, and guiding you to her house if she didn’t happen to be sharing with Latitude? (12 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

Now some say this is extreme… but all of this is just an “oops” away on security settings. reply


Sarah - February 12th, 2010 at 11:13 am UTC

EXACTLY. What Facebook and Google have done is effectively discourage me from using the Internet! I don’t trust any of them with any information anymore. I’m BACK to using my old Outlook Express and my ISP email address. It’s not great, but at least I’m pretty sure Comcast isn’t broadcasting my e-mails or spying on my contacts. My Facebook account is now largely dormant. I only log in to accept new friends. Which is a bummer, because I loved it only months ago. As a libertarian, I am totally loath to say this, but we need someone to sue these folks. Those EULAs are a joke, and the companies are NOT HONEST about their intentions. reply

podo - February 14th, 2010 at 8:27 am UTC

I support and agree. I wish the whole world ( the slaves young and old ) could understand this and rose in protest. We could get back the varied and free internet as it was. Can you/we start with a simple website on this line, please ? reply

Tariq Kamal - February 12th, 2010 at 6:21 am UTC

When I first saw this entry (in, ironically enough, Google Reader), my blood ran cold. This is, by all means, the most brutal and uncompromising example of the kind of privacy violations that organizations like Facebook and Google can do. (13 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

And I’m willing to bet, at some point in this comment thread, if it hasn’t happened already, that someone will say that “the age of privacy is over”, and try to downplay the seriousness of something like this. And that sentiment will, inevitably, betray the privilege that commenter has, because, like me, and very likely like almost every other middle-class affluent (very likely) straight cis-male techgeek out there, that commenter has the privilege of counting that every contact they have made in Google Mail will not, at the very worst, threaten their goddamn life or safety. So, to anyone who wants to open their mouth to bleat about how “the age of privacy is over” I say: shut it, and check your privilege. This is one example where it won’t, and this is one situation where one exception is already too damn far. reply


David - February 12th, 2010 at 11:10 am UTC

It occurs to me that no one that’s ever lived in the hood is as quick to dismiss privacy concerns as their middle-class counterparts that grew up in the ‘burbs. People are dangerous. reply


Ron - February 12th, 2010 at 7:48 pm UTC

Couldn’t agree more. Really eloquently put too reply

Nikke Lindqvist

- February 12th, 2010 at 6:24 am UTC

Please. This is the smallest of problems. If she had an openly shared feed before Buzz her husband could just have subscribed to her Atom feed and seen all her comments anyhow. (14 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

The only difference now is that she now has become aware of the fact that he could do that. reply


:-O - February 12th, 2010 at 7:32 am UTC

Your compassion & understanding are admirable. I hope the others in your life extend you the same courtesy. reply


yeah - February 12th, 2010 at 7:33 am UTC

lol. i like buzz, but i haven’t used it yet. i’ll wait until everything is fixed first. reply


Leigh Honeywell

- February 12th, 2010 at 7:59 am UTC

way to RTFA, asshole. she had marked her Reader feeds as private, but shared them in a group with her mother and partner. reply

wrong - February 12th, 2010 at 12:22 pm UTC

It’s fun to believe everything someone rants about on their blog. If she truly marked stuff private, it’d remain private and her abusive ex-husband couldn’t see it (15 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

So either she didn’t really mark it private and now she’s realized her error, or she’s erroneously assuming abusive ex-husband can see it. reply

Danno - February 12th, 2010 at 2:00 pm UTC

No dude. Google Beacon (“Buzz”) is a clusterfrak. reply

Karthik Prabhu

- February 12th, 2010 at 6:32 am UTC

This is really annoying. I just started using Buzz feature but didn’t know about it’s flaws.. I think i will stop using it.. Thanks for this post buddy.. Really helpful..! reply


yeah - February 12th, 2010 at 7:34 am UTC

why would you use something without knowing it’s flaws? isn’t that just opening yourself up to x amount of possibilities? huh. reply

huh? - February 12th, 2010 at 8:58 am UTC

u know all its flaws? is there a list? the “flaws” are being figured out as ppl learn abt them…duh! (16 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications


yeah - February 12th, 2010 at 12:46 pm UTC

hahah i don’t do first gen of anything. i’m sorry i have a don’t be stupid radar. i mean obviously google didn’t have everything on their end covered and decided to get into this game so they can jump in sooner than later and fix along the way. otherwise they would have made this beta and tested it with outsiders instead of just internally and their group of selectees. it looks like this new buzz aspect is a mashup of several different things that either they had been thinking about for a while or they were thinking about and acted upon through aquistions of similar companies providing that real time social connect service, or they heard what people were saying about wave being confusing and decided to just create a subheavy version of wave and integrate in the platform where they already have a big user base in gmail. so no i don’t buzz. i do like it though and i’m going to be a supporter of it, even if they never change the udly dialogue bubble logo. reply

Treble - February 12th, 2010 at 11:48 am UTC

The problem is that everybody with a Google account is using it. It’s turned on for everyone and you have to deactivate it. Most people don’t even know what privacy problem has occured. reply

DT - February 12th, 2010 at 12:43 pm UTC

and it’s opt-out they didn’t ask people if they wanted to use it reply (17 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications


- February 12th, 2010 at 6:51 am UTC

Sad story, … but i insist that an anonymous web is less useful than a web where everybody knows your name. reply


Sarah - February 12th, 2010 at 11:17 am UTC

Wrong. You can only be yourself if you’re anon. True, that means a small percentage of people act like morons, but the rest of us can be free to express true feelings without self-censoring more progressive views that some people may inaccurately judge us on in the wrong context. reply


Danno - February 12th, 2010 at 2:03 pm UTC

Ya, that works really well in China too. You need to think outside your own personal experience, man… Anonymity is, sometimes, essential to freedom. reply


-M - February 12th, 2010 at 3:47 pm UTC

Perhaps you could be useful and provide your full name then? How about your phone number and home address while you’re at it? reply (18 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

jacopogio - February 12th, 2010 at 6:51 am UTC

Robin, just to continue your post: GooGLe CEO Eric Schmidt is on Buzz and he is following only 4 users. All 4 with no public profiles… Hmm, Privacy concerns ? Do they know something we should all know ? You can check here Eric Schmidt Public profile : profiles/109938146389129062343


Techmine - February 12th, 2010 at 6:56 am UTC

Still around the world people will be ok with default privacy settings. It’s not just USA product. reply

Kuldeep Kapade

- February 12th, 2010 at 6:58 am UTC

I think the first para sums it up all. reply

UncleMatt - February 12th, 2010 at 7:05 am UTC

Wait… I’m confused by this article and her post. What does auto-following have to do with her ex-husband seeing her G Reader comments? Auto-follow has to do with who YOU follow, not who follows you. People following you is a fundamental of social networking. I don’t even use social networking sites, and I get that. (19 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

I have tried Buzz. I recall when I OPTED IN to it that it first asked me which of my sites I wanted to share. To which I responded… none. reply


UncleMatt - February 12th, 2010 at 7:17 am UTC

Also… click ex-husband, click block ex-husband. I would think someone with her life experiences would be in tune with that type of thinking already. And to your point about how this comment misses the point of Google confusing the hell out of people… I’m sorry, that is not even slightly confusing. Seems like sensationalism to me. I do hope that she is a real person with real issues (and is dealing with her real issues) and not some Microsoft/Apple/Facebook/Twitter troll. reply


- February 12th, 2010 at 7:45 am UTC

dont resist google. buzz is gonna take over and thats that. The reality is they are squashing everybody in the location based service market. just like they did to the gps market. bunch of buzz haters in here. reply

New View Media

- February 12th, 2010 at 10:34 am UTC

actually not true and the reason is real people with real privacy concerns. There is no way in the world I want Google to have access to my physical location on top of all the other data. Google is getting too large and the corporate greed of owning everything is very worrying to lots of people. Competition will be coming and Google is spreading itself thin across many (20 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

niche markets… reply


jobo - February 12th, 2010 at 7:23 am UTC

Buzz did not ask me to opt in on sites when it first showed up. When I looked it had automatically connected Picasa, YouTube and GoogleReader. I had to manually remove each one. I have a Google profile. It’s blank – no info in it – but if I understand correctly (and I may not) the sites were auto-linked because of it. In exploring Buzz somehow Picasa and GoogleReader (but not YouTube) were reconnected – THOUGH I DID NOT ADD THEM. I finally just deactivated Buzz. I’m fed up with constantly trying to figure out which service is exposing what – and being in the tech industry I do not simply have the luxury of dropping all these time sucking services, since it’s an unwritten requirement to have LinkedIn and Facebook these days to show “you’re in the know” when job hunting. reply

Jared Tracy - February 12th, 2010 at 7:35 am UTC

@jobo Sounds like you were on there before they made some of the initial fixes. I had to add them all manually. reply

Ev.Galois - February 12th, 2010 at 11:18 pm UTC

You read my mind, jobo! Buzz is so flawed, so un-google like….I don’t know what happened to these guys, did they start to work at this project 3 weeks ago and threw out there the first (21 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

version of their product, still in tests? I TURNED OFF the stupid thing, sorry Google, your buzzing is annoying.You abused us! reply


- February 12th, 2010 at 7:16 am UTC

I figured there would be problems the moment i saw it. Gmail users did not originally signup for something as public as twitter. Google should have figured that out from the beginning, by first taking you through the steps of creating a public profile. That would make it more profound to users they are sharing public information, giving them a moment to think if they want it and opt out immediately. reply


Jared Tracy - February 12th, 2010 at 7:33 am UTC

You do have to register your profile. It doesn’t automatically start publishing everything. reply

igniman - February 12th, 2010 at 1:21 pm UTC

you can follow people without registering your profile reply


yeah - February 12th, 2010 at 7:37 am UTC

you know how when you usually sign up for something or when you install something new you get those annoying follow directions which you can go through or skip to start using the new program? google could benefit from something like that if they had some sort of primer when (22 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

you accept buzz that introduces them to what buzz is/does and also how you can set privacy settings and contacts and such. all of this otherwise is hilarious. they still need to change that horrible logo. reply

Matt Lawson

- February 12th, 2010 at 7:33 am UTC

How do you even change the Privacy settings for BUZZ?? reply


joedacs - February 13th, 2010 at 2:12 pm UTC

these helped me a bit: tid=1d5a9e58f5f7cf37&hl=en tid=3a8efd03add7beea&hl=en tid=54ab7ba725976878&hl=en btw, my new mantra: Google is your frenemy. reply

Sujay AN - February 12th, 2010 at 7:35 am UTC

I’m surprised Google released something this big and flawed directly to the masses instead of the Labs/Preview route, which they do usually. (23 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

I’m even more surprised no one in Google itself weren’t concerned/aware of these issues before releasing it. For a company that claims to hire “the best and the brightest” through rigorous interviews, this is not acceptable at all. reply


PC - February 12th, 2010 at 9:28 am UTC

+1 Buzz feels experimental and untested. Releasing it under Gmail, a tried and tested product used for serious productivity, is seriously a bad idea. I find it very risky and a dilution of the Gmail brand. reply


Ev.Galois - February 12th, 2010 at 11:30 pm UTC

You got the essence: ‘untested,experimental’. So very sad and true..Google was an example of technological decency and conduite.Now, it’s gone. reply

@getcakes - February 12th, 2010 at 7:39 am UTC

Even facebook has to make updates and didnt get it right the first time…but then again you sign up for facebook b/c its a social network…i didnt sign up for gmail for social updates, ‘buzz’ing but I will mess with it when i have free time. i dont understand complaints though. If mail gets delivered to your house, you don’t also want to have parties there, especially with strangers reply (24 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications


@getcakes - February 12th, 2010 at 7:40 am UTC

opps *Do* understand reply


RandyC - February 12th, 2010 at 9:07 am UTC

Agree completely. You sign up for email with the expectation that it is PRIVATE and will remain that way. What ever happened to “DO NO EVIL”? Google – “Do no evil” Facebook – “Do lots of evil” Google – “Ok, do some evil” Why don’t people just stop using these sites? Remember life before Facebook and Google? Was pretty good wasn’t it. reply

wrong - February 12th, 2010 at 12:30 pm UTC

Your mail does stay private. “Buzz” is a totally separate data stream. The problem is that people read these posts and haven’t tried the service then it’s like a game of telephone and the message gets farther and farther from the truth. If you don’t opt-out of following/being followed (and I do agree that you should be opted out by default and have to choose to opt in) what you will see if a list of the names of the people following/being followed. No email addresses (unless the person is already in your contacts list) and certainly no email. The names will be linked to public profiles if the person has a public profile. reply (25 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

Danno - February 12th, 2010 at 2:08 pm UTC

@wrong: Wrong. There’s an email address hole too… Read a couple of TC posts from earlier. BUZZ = Beacon Same bad idea, same invasion of privacy, same public backlash, same really fast backpedaling to fix the clusterfrak. reply

Jared Tracy - February 12th, 2010 at 7:49 am UTC

I think this makes a strong case of enforcement of restraining orders in the digital medium. Following someone digitally should be treated the same as following them in real life, which would entitle someone with a restraining order to get the police involved and send jerkoffs like her husband to jail. reply


Brynn - February 12th, 2010 at 8:01 pm UTC

I am completely outraged at how Google compromised the online identities of its users by taking disparate services and handles and tying them together without so much as letting its users know what was going on (much less let them opt-out before it did so). Now it’s only if they’re lucky that no one will be physically harmed, which is completely the opposite of Do No Evil. But if your proposal was in place, this would have been even worse: someone could have gone to jail without even having logged into a Google service since Buzz was launched, because Google auto-followed people for anyone who had a Gmail account regardless of whether or not they made a profile. There is nothing good that could have come of the decision to auto-follow and whoever was on (26 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

the team that decided to do that should be damn ashamed of themselves. reply

Mariachi Milo - February 12th, 2010 at 8:00 am UTC

Here’s the kicker: You are only concerned of privacy if you are trying to hide something. It’s why I don’t really care. Whatever. Tap the lines, my e-mail… got nothing to hide… and maybe the real issue here is not the privacy google could have made better, but rather, that lady has some relationship issues to deal with. reply


Pete - February 12th, 2010 at 8:56 am UTC

As the saying goes: “if you have nothing to hide then why do you have curtains in your house?” Anyway, privacy isn’t only about having something to hide or not – it’s also about having the right to keep some things personal, or to control who knows about them. reply


PC - February 12th, 2010 at 9:32 am UTC

Meh. When you feel like you have privacy (at least in the presence of friends) you feel like you can act more naturally. Usually people have a public or professional facing personality which is different from that which they used with their friends and family. There are many things that go on in people’s personal and professional life they do not want the world knowing about and it’s legit they don’t want the world to know about it. That’s a subtle but huge difference from caring about privacy because you have something to hide. (27 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

For example, do you think we should be allowed to read all of President Obama’s buzzes? I mean he should have nothing to hide right? What about celebrities who are trying to avoid paparazzi? What about women with crazy stalker ex-boyfriends? The list goes on and on. reply


Sarah - February 12th, 2010 at 11:21 am UTC

So says the guy profiting off of people’s personal information that they never agreed (or wanted) to share. Baaaaa. reply


Danno - February 12th, 2010 at 2:10 pm UTC

@ Milo : Why don’t you publish your address and phone number along with your idiotic comment then? Oh, and since privacy means nothing to you, how about some pictures and perhaps your social security #? Asshole. reply


- February 12th, 2010 at 8:14 am UTC

Google should be smart enough to know that the people you email aren’t necessarily the people you want in your social network. Heck, Google should also realize that people might want more than one social network. That (28 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

which I share with my friends isn’t necessarily what I’d share with my mom or co-workers. They seriously need to fix that before it becomes usable. What kills me is didn’t Google make this *exact same mistake* when they introduced sharing with Reader? Email contacts != social network. reply


katecoe - February 12th, 2010 at 2:39 pm UTC

Exactly. I use my Gmail for work, and one client doesn’t need to see who else I work for. reply


- February 12th, 2010 at 8:25 am UTC

I don’t see what the huge deal is. People with things to hide should be more careful with what they are getting into. I personally could care less if anyone read my status updates, blog or facebook posts. I guess I wouldn’t want others reading all of my emails, so if it comes to that than I might have an issue. reply


Daniel M. Clark

- February 12th, 2010 at 9:39 am UTC

What do Twitter, your blog and your Facebook posts all have in common? You have complete control over what gets posted, who is in your network, and who can see what gets posted (yes, even your blog is capable of this). With Buzz, Google is deciding what gets posted and who can see it. reply (29 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

wrong - February 12th, 2010 at 12:34 pm UTC

That’s 100% incorrect. Maybe you need to set up a throw-away google account and try the service, then you’ll have a clue as to what you’re talking about. reply

Danno - February 12th, 2010 at 2:14 pm UTC

Bite it fanboy. reply

Yeah - February 12th, 2010 at 7:44 pm UTC

I’m not a fanboy, but ‘wrong’ is ‘right’


Gibarian - February 13th, 2010 at 4:46 am UTC

Read this article and tell me that you think is all harmless? http://neteffect.foreignpolicy. com/posts/2010/02/11/wrong_kind_of_buzz_around_google_buzz what about political activists in china, iran or any brutal regime who may have had their safety compromised by Googles selfish and thoughtless rollout. If you still think exposing people and those they contact to the world isn’t a big deal then you are a fool. reply (30 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

Erik Bigelow

- February 12th, 2010 at 8:25 am UTC

Big Fail! But I’m glad things like this keep happening so people realize that having a choice for privacy is a good thing. There have been a couple people that have emailed me about my 6d project from this site and rest assured it’s getting there. Please keep patient. reply

Martin - February 12th, 2010 at 8:41 am UTC

I turned on Buzz, read about privacy issue thanks to Scoble and then turned it off. Waiting until Google fixes it. reply

id8 - February 12th, 2010 at 8:44 am UTC

Given the two last big Google news blasts were about the Chinese dissident’s contact lists, followed by public notice of mysterious NSA cooperation, this is abysmal stupidity. Hopefully a congressman or two will rattle some cages. As far as what to do? On the web, the only acceptable way is folks must “opt in”, with clear explanations, clear steps. Adobe, for another example, on the flash download site now has a little box, by default checked to install the spyware google toolbar. Easy to miss, by design. Google too did this by design to increase usage numbers. Bad choice. The only good news here is it a scan of the techmeme stories indicates it appears to have backfired, badly. I really hope nobody is really harmed by this. This woman’s story is scary, and too damn common. Not to mention, Chinese dissidents now wondering if there will be a knock at the door because one of their contacts made an innocent mistake. (31 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

The more I think about this, the more angry I am about it. I do hope a Congressperson or two gets the idea to enforce opt in only for changes, for any darn thing. reply


Daniel M. Clark

- February 12th, 2010 at 9:42 am UTC

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow corporations to directly give money to politicians. Google’s got money to spend… don’t look for the politicians to do anything that will endanger their bankrolls. reply

Danno - February 12th, 2010 at 2:29 pm UTC

Sadly, you are correct. The Supreme Court just crapped on our future. reply


martina - February 12th, 2010 at 3:04 pm UTC

People haven’t smell the rat that is google. Well I did fan boys and dont use their services nomore. Was it no last month they were threatening to leave China for being hacked and managing to generate publicity for themselves in the process? What do they go and do, placing this spayware called buzz in user Gmail accounts without a opt-out. Congats u bit MS to the finish line on this on but you f*****d up this one big time son. reply

Chelle - February 12th, 2010 at 8:50 am UTC (32 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

I’m generally ok with Buzz. Or was until I opened it up this morning and found that Buzz had posted videos (that had been marked as private) to my stream as public. They had been posted after I’d gone to bed, so unless I have a sleepwalking/internet related problem… I had nothing to do with the posting of these private videos to my buzz stream. I don’t mind sharing my life with my friends via Buzz. I don’t have anything to hide from them. I just want to be the ONLY one who has a say in what I share and when I start sharing it. reply


- February 12th, 2010 at 8:51 am UTC

I turned Buzz off 24 hrs after I turned it on. It was an invasion into my email, it was a privacy risk, and it was a terrible product implementation. It shows a complete and total disconnect on Google’s part leaning towards arrogance. There would have to be an amazing revelation shined upon me before I’d consider turning it back on. reply


- February 12th, 2010 at 9:08 am UTC

Hooray for Google Apps for Domains – no buzz for me, all the GMail functionality! reply


- February 12th, 2010 at 9:09 am UTC

whenever the new applications or software are launched it always had privacy issue. so there is nothing new in this reply (33 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications

Etrigan - February 12th, 2010 at 9:19 am UTC

At least this isn’t another Google fanboy post. The problem with arrogant tech companies like Google is low emotional intelligence. Just because something can be built technologically doesn’t mean it should be built. Tech doesn’t change our basic nature- it just changes how we express it. And one basic thing we all have is a need for privacy. We have many ’selves’- our self at work, with our parents, with our lovers, with our friends, commenting on internet forums. We don’t want those selves to collide. The main early criticism of Facebook was that it mixed your friends from work with your parents, with your drinking buddies. Do you really want your boss- or your mum- seeing the drunken pictures you share with your frat friends? Google should have learned from this. The reason facebook, etc have not killed e-mail is because e-mail is inherently private, while Facebook is social- and we need a private space where we control who sees what. Invading the private space of e-mail with public social functions is a recipe for disaster. Yahoo tried it in their mail and it flopped. Microsoft tried it with Live mail, and it flopped. Google’s ’solution’ was to force it down your throat by ramming it into your inbox whether you like it or not. Gfail. reply


yeah - February 12th, 2010 at 12:52 pm UTC

i saw you post something like this about why email and a public stream like this don’t go together in one of the other buzz posts and i thought it was good. i agree with that point actually. i also agree with everyone else who feel like this buzz chicken is not fully cooked. they should have just had it in labs or something. i’m not sure it’s diluting the gmail or google brand like someone else was pointing out, but they better work hard at it before it does go the way of fail. it’s still pretty new even if it’s based on existing technology. (34 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications


Jeff - February 12th, 2010 at 9:23 am UTC

For a bunch of geniuses, they sure are dumb! reply

zip - February 12th, 2010 at 9:40 am UTC

Bye buzz. I just turned it off. Google should come with a better idea. Not all users are geeks. You should know that google. Fail again, Google ! reply

Suburbanite - February 12th, 2010 at 9:41 am UTC

So an extremely net-savvy blogger enables an option that they later regret, resulting in oversharing on an over-sharing service. Time to blame Google? That said, can we start suing Winchester for guncleaning accidents? reply


Ben - February 12th, 2010 at 2:30 pm UTC

Putting something so public (Buzz) right inside so private (gmail) can mislead a lot of people. I bet many non-net-savvy Buzz users doesn’t even know what they post on Buzz are searchable on Google. (35 of 37) [3/8/2010 8:59:11 AM]

Google Buzz Privacy Issues Have Real Life Implications



asdfg - February 13th, 2010 at 12:47 am UTC

>Implying this woman is at all net-savvy reply

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