Print 14 comment(s) - last by banvetor.. on Feb 17 at 3:58 AM

Google made a whopper of a mistake

There's an old saying "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me".  Google's new Buzz service now falls under that probationary truism, as it has become embroiled in a privacy mess.

Google officially launched its Google Buzz service -- a social networking-like RSS feed which drew from Picasa, Flikr, Twitter, and Gmail only last week.  Many observers worried that the service might suffer similar problems to Facebook, which raised a lot of uproar over privacy changes, and a year ago had to publicly apologize after putting users' purchases off-site (with partners) in their feeds.  Not so, said Google.  The search giant insisted that it would "do no evil" as its motto goes, and would protect its customers.

Unfortunately that didn't happen.

Google, whose CEO Eric Schmidt once famously remarked that those wanting privacy were probably up to no good, quickly dug itself into loads of trouble when it decided it would be a smart idea to "auto-follow" everyone its enrolled Gmail users chatted with or emailed.  Users quickly responded with outrage.  Google's faux pas essentially leaked users' email records.  Embarrassment ensued -- everything from following ex's to friended competitors -- and many users suffered from Google's lack of discretion.

The worst part?  The service was enabled by default, so any Gmail user may have had their personal info exposed -- that's millions of users.

This week Google changed the feature, writing an apology blog.  Writes Todd Jackson, Product Manager, Gmail and Google Buzz, "We quickly realized that we didn't get everything quite right.  We're very sorry for the concern we've caused and have been working hard ever since to improve things based on your feedback. We'll continue to do so.  For the tens of millions of you who have already started using Buzz, over the next couple weeks we'll be showing you a similar version of this new start-up experience to give you a second chance to review and confirm the people you're following."

Google is now allowing Gmail users to opt out of the new service and is making it easier for them to hide their followers and who they are following.

Still, one has to wonder how much damage has really been done, and whether it's too late to salvage the good name of the new service, or Gmail for that matter.  As they say, "fool me once..."

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By therealnickdanger on 2/16/2010 7:49:13 AM , Rating: 3
For the tens of millions of you who have already started using Buzz

The tens of millions of G-Mail users you automatically enrolled into Buzz, you mean? I never asked to be part of your lame experiment, thank you. I'm just here for the free e-mail. Interestingly enough, Microsoft did this about 10 years ago with Spaces, but they had the foresight to keep everything "off" by default. You had to actively create a Spaces page and choose who to interact with.

RE: Disappointing
By B3an on 2/16/10, Rating: 0
RE: Disappointing
By Marlonsm on 2/16/2010 9:31:22 AM , Rating: 3
You're not automatically enrolled, you have to find the tiny "No, thanks" button in the page . You'll often get a message after login into Gmail asking if you want to join Buzz.

I could find it the first time I got that message, but some people I know just clicked the first link they found.
I like Gmail, it's really good, but if they keep doing that sort of thing I'll seriously consider changing.

RE: Disappointing
By banvetor on 2/16/2010 9:36:24 AM , Rating: 3
I was under the impression that when you cliked "No Thanks, take me to my Inbox", you would STILL enroll with the service, and you were only "directed" to your inbox, but still with the Buzz label active and showing unread posts, with followers and "followings" automatically added...

Anyway, at least that was what happened to me. Or maybe I did not see an even smaller link saying "No thanks, DO NOT ACTIVATE BUZZ on my account" ?

RE: Disappointing
By foohawt on 2/16/2010 12:02:29 PM , Rating: 5
you can turn it off at the very bottom of the page, right above the copyright line

Gmail view: standard | turn on chat | turn off buzz | older version | basic HTML Learn more

RE: Disappointing
By banvetor on 2/17/2010 3:58:02 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, I am completely aware of that (and I did it), but still it seems that no one was really sure what happened when you turned off Buzz.

For instance, my "public profile" at Google, which before was very harmless, just stating my area of work, now included many other things that were automatically linked to Buzz... and this was AFTER I "turned off" Buzz!

So, really, this "turn off buzz" was not the solution.

RE: Disappointing
By omnicronx on 2/16/2010 12:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
Um no.. there was a tutorial page the first time I logged in after they enabled the service, in which I pressed skip (or something similar). After going into my Google account the service was active without me ever asking for it.

By zaxxon on 2/16/2010 7:04:42 AM , Rating: 4
and I thought it goes

"fool me once... shame on you.. .fool me... you can't be fooled again!"

RE: fooled?
By redbone75 on 2/16/2010 11:17:22 AM , Rating: 1
No. According to George W. Bush, it's, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... well, it's not nice to fool people!"

What info
By theslug on 2/16/2010 9:01:12 AM , Rating: 3
When they say leaking personal info, is that only if you created a profile on it?

So Sick
By swizeus on 2/16/2010 12:07:54 PM , Rating: 2
Google like a child who just got a candy and want everybody to taste it, even though not everyone like the flavor nor the candy itself. Face it, not everybody like to have an instant facebook-like or twitter-like social networking, some rather have no network at all....

Google had me
By sandhuatdt on 2/16/2010 1:58:44 PM , Rating: 2
I admit, I hunted the method to jump the queue to get on to Buzz. Once I got there and realized the mess Google had created, I quickly said my goodbyes to buzz and am not looking to go back again anytime soon. I get my share of now-i-am-twiddling-my-thumbs(with pics) from fb.

By Smilin on 2/16/2010 2:23:21 PM , Rating: 1
And THAT is why google keeps their crappy written software in beta for years and years. Plausible deniability.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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