Google Buzz feels the sting

Resource Nation · February 22, 2010 · Short URL:

Google sued over Buzz, amid complaints and controversy from Privacy Groups opting to Opt Out.

Gmail, Google’s free email source, recently came out with Buzz – their P2P campaign to match-up with growing online communities like Facebook, Twitter, and the picture-share network Picassa. However, shortly after Buzz came out, complaints about privacy followed, and now Google has been hit with a class-action lawsuit.
 While Buzz offers the same social networking capabilities as the other power-players in online communication, problems arose when users found out that Gmail automatically enrolled its users into the service.

After a few days of unsolicited personal information sharing, Buzz was bombarded by online requests to change some key formatting issues, such as the automatic friend networks and automatic information sharing to people in your Gmail contact lists.

While sensitive information like addresses and email content were not shared, microblogging details that mirrored Twitter feeds were automatically sent to your contacts, which also made up your friend network.

Aside from your contacts, Buzz also initially connected you to your recent email recipients, which resulted in information overload by forgoing the P2P social aspect and connecting professional users like B2B telemarketing instead.

The class-action lawsuit was filed on Thursday, February 18th, by a Florida resident, and names Gmail’s 31-million users as plaintiffs. While Google has yet to respond to the suit, early demand by privacy groups that forced Google to change its automatic network and information sharing settings suggests that the simple fix may just be to allow Gmail users to opt-into the service rather than connect its users without permission.

Blogs and forums have been filled with Gmail user complaints, many of which have their own list of improvements for Buzz – not to mention the many posts that simply suggest ridding the email service of the feature all-together.

While Buzz offered a rather unique service that was intended to battle other social networks, by automatically updating and involving unknowing email users, Google may have unintentionally shot their new campaign in the foot. Rumors of Buzz allowing GoogleVoice connections as well as general IP phone system support have been popping up as of late, but the networking tool itself may not be around long enough to test any new services.

David Liu is a writer and comedian based in San Diego, California. He writes extensively for Resource Nation, an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs ranging from phone systems to credit card processing.



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