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Google Buzz gets bit, changes privacy tools

Note to Google on its Buzz privacy fallout: Users get really peeved when they feel compromised. Just ask Facebook, which faced a torrent of complaints from users and consumer groups when they changed their privacy policy last December. The move sparked complaints to regulators and a kink in the armor of the world's biggest social network.

Facing a similar backlash from users about the amount of personal data made public with its own social networking feature, Google Buzz, the company said today it is tweaking a few things in response.

Google Buzz was launched last Tuesday and allows users to share information with others on the Gmail network. Users immediately complained that the program made it too easy to find contacts in a user's e-mail list and see who was following whom on the social network. And the de facto setting was for contact lists to be made available for people to see, which means that a user would have to actively opt out of that feature to keep that information private.

"Google has shot itself in the privacy foot with its Buzz marketing effort: This is an example where the company isn't demonstrating social responsibility," said Jeffrey Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy.

In a blog, Google said a user can control what data is available for the public to see. And it acknowledged that it was difficult to figure out how to change setting to keep contact lists private.

"We heard from people that the checkbox for choosing not to display this information was too hard to find, and based on this feedback, we've changed the notice to make it very clear. We will roll these changes out to all Gmail users later today," Todd Jackson, product manager for Gmail and Google Buzz, wrote in the post.

Users can also block people from following them.

Here's the post.

By Cecilia Kang  |  February 12, 2010; 2:42 PM ET
Categories:  FTC , Facebook , Google , Privacy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Google broadband plan draws interest, Monday morning quarterbacking
Next: T-Mobile to boost network speeds this year


I'm glad to see they made it easier to hide things. I simply turned off Google Buzz when I logged into my Gmail account; I scrolled down to the bottom, found the small text that said "turn off Buzz," and clicked. Hopefully, that does the trick.

Posted by: dkp01 | February 12, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Privacy? This from the Friends of the NSA?

Posted by: ssterno | February 12, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

If Google helps dictatorships filter information and search results you know they hand our government everything you search for. All in the name of keeping us safe from unseen enemies of course.

Posted by: metroman76 | February 12, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

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