While I like to think I’m reasonably on top of tech trends I didn’t know about Google Buzz until last evening. (shock horror – I know.) Anyhoo, a quick trawl on the internet showed me that Buzz is:
Our belief is that organizing the social information on the web — finding relevance in the noise — has become a large-scale challenge, one that Google’s experience in organizing information can help solve. We’ve recently launched innovations like real-time search and Social Search, and today we’re taking another big step with the introduction of a new product, Google Buzz.
Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting. It’s built right into Gmail, so you don’t have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch — it just works. If you think about it, there’s always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most.
However, it didn’t take me more than 20 minutes of having Buzz plugged into my email to realize: I DON’T WANT THIS SHIT. I may not be alone. Despite the claim to help me: ‘to start conversations about the things you find interesting,’ it does nothing of the sort. Instead, it adds in any ‘stuff’ that people it has decided I am following put into their Buzz (a bit like Twitter) along with any other accounts that Google has linked via their profiles such as Flickr, Twitter, Google Reader, assorted blogs….the list goes on. In other words it is aggregating a pile of stuff and lobbing it over the wall into my GMail.
Now – don’t get me wrong. I like my friends. A lot. But I’m buggered if I need or want to know their EVERY movement on the Internet. I’m pretty sure the same feeling is reciprocated. But it gets worse.
The problem is that — by default — the people you follow and the people that follow you are made public to anyone who looks at your profile.
In other words, before you change any settings in Google Buzz, someone could go into your profile and see the people you email and chat with most.
Are you shitting me? Apparently not. In the past I have said that Google pays scant attention to creating sensible privacy policies. With Buzz, they’ve blown the whole shaky edifice apart.
It seems I may be able to moderate what Buzz exposes. In the last two hours, Google says that 10 more people are following me. I don’t get a choice to accept or reject, which I do with Twitter and Facebook. However, I have found that Buzz can be turned off. Google? I’m outta here.
By the way – if you are a Google Apps for Enterprise user then watch for when Google introduces Buzz to your service. Make sure you REALLY understand what it will and will not do. The last thing you want is for Buzz to effectively mine and expose your internal contacts list and blast that out to the world at large.