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Google Tweaks Buzz To Tackle Privacy Concerns 153

Posted by timothy
from the who's-zooming-who dept.
CWmike writes "Just two days after launching its Buzz social networking tools, Google said Thursday night that it had tweaked the technology to address early privacy concerns. Google said in a blog post that the quick updates makes it easier for users to block access to their pages and eases the path to finding two privacy features. 'We've had plenty of feature requests, and some direct feedback,' wrote Todd Jackson, a product manager for Gmail and Google Buzz, in the blog post. 'In particular there's been concern from some people who thought their contacts were being made public without their knowledge (in particular the lists of people they follow, and the people following them). In addition, others felt they had too little control over who could follow them and were upset that they lacked the ability to block people who didn't yet have public profiles from following them.'"
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Google Tweaks Buzz To Tackle Privacy Concerns

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  • The real story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alain94040 (785132) * on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:20AM (#31124874) Homepage

    This blog [wordpress.com] shows what really happened:

    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.
    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.

    It shows more eloquently than any privacy advocate ever could why privacy is so important when "you don't have anything to hide."

    --
    find a co-founder [fairsoftware.net]

    • Re:The real story (Score:5, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:00AM (#31125050) Homepage Journal

      Well, the fact is that this person, who is clearly non-technical, was misinterpreting what she was seeing. This is the fault of the engineers for writing a crappy UI (it's called "consensus presentation" in UI class guys) but no actual harm was done. None of her private Reader posts were delivered to her abusive ex-husband or the stalkers who email her - it just looked that way because she assumed that if its in her buzz feed then it's in theirs, cause that's the way it works on Twitter/Facebook. Actually, that's not precisely true, she also confused 'follower' and 'following' in a way that makes no sense for those other two services too.

      • Re:The real story (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:37AM (#31125178)

        If she enabled Buzz, I don't see it as necessarily the case that she's misinterpreting it. When I enabled Buzz, instantly I was following 8 people, and 7 of those people were following me back, based on the fact that we'd email a bunch. As I read it, that's what she thinks happened--- that Google had her ex-husband auto-follow her, because they'd exchanged emails. Unlike Facebook, you don't have to approve followers, either. And, your Google Reader comments are by default visible to your followers, something I also didn't realize until one of those 7 followers of mine commented on a post of mine.

        Now in my case those 7 auto-followers are people I actually know and don't object to following me, and I had nothing particularly private in my Google Reader comments, but it was still quite surprising and felt a bit weird that it was all done automatically. I would've felt much more comfortable if Google used email history to suggest contacts, but I still had to approve people individually before they could get access to my stuff. It'd also be nice if it asked me explicitly if I wanted my Google Reader comments shared over Buzz.

        • by Homburg (213427)

          your Google Reader comments are by default visible to your followers

          Is that the case, even if you've previously set your Reader comments to be visible only to specific people (as the blogger in this case apparently had)?

        • Re:The real story (Score:4, Interesting)

          by liquidpele (663430) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:16AM (#31126690) Journal
          When it popped up asking if I wanted to use Buzz, I said "no, not right now" and it still enabled it and auto-set me as following people and being followed. So then I said okay, fine, I'll set it up. So I told it to stop following certain people and made certain people not follow me. Next thing I know, it's "found" the people I just said I didn't want to follow anymore and asking me if I want to follow them. I also found people I set to not follow me were following me again and had to block them again. At this point I gave up.

          So yea, fuck google on this one. They screwed up big time on this feature release. I've blocked everyone and turned it off now, no idea if that's actually doing anything or not though. Thank god I never filled out my google profile or linked it to another account of any kind.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by liquidpele (663430)
            Oh, and this is grand. I log into google reader, and people I blocked in Buzz are following me there. FFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.
        • by Urza9814 (883915)

          Buzz is like Twitter with privacy settings. If you post a public buzz, it is _public_ - even people who don't even have gmail accounts can read it. And yes, everyone following you gets your public buzzes. Just like everyone following you gets your twitter messages. And everyone on your friend lists gets everything you do on Facebook, even if you're posting on someone else's page. Welcome to social networking. If you don't like how that works, either use the privacy settings, which at least on Buzz are fairl

    • Re:The real story (Score:4, Interesting)

      by beadfulthings (975812) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:19AM (#31125108) Journal

      You don't even have to have an abusive ex-husband. I found I had acquired a follower with the unlikely name of "Kleetman Nissanka." Our buddy Kleetman seems to have assembled a collection of people to follow--all of whom are women, and all of whom have the same first name as mine. He may have found my public profile (which lists two websites, both business-related), but I certainly didn't give him permission to follow me. I have now cleansed Kleetman from my profile and re-disabled Buzz. I guess people at Google don't have to worry about stalkers, spammers, and other assorted gentry.

      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        Umm.. that's the same on Twitter, where only if you have a private profile do you need to specifically "allow" followers.. by default, anyone can follow anyone, and if you don't like someone, you block them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by beadfulthings (975812)

          Both of you are missing the point. Both Twitter and Facebook can be set up to confront you directly and say something along the lines of, "Kleetman is now following you/wants to be your friend. OK with you? (yep/nope)" That provides the opportunity to opt out (as it were) and the opportunity to do a bit of trivial checking-up if desired. The perception of being followed by a mysterious individual who roams the Intertubes assembling lists of women named "Anne" is just plain distasteful.

          • by Culture20 (968837)

            The perception of being followed by a mysterious individual who roams the Intertubes assembling lists of women named "Anne" is just plain distasteful.

            PokémAnne: gotta catch'em all!

        • THE POINT IS IF YOU SIGNED UP FOR TWITTER YOU KNEW EXACTLY WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN.

          When I signed up for Gmail, I didn't expect to have all this crap about people following me, seeing my Google Reader posts, etc.

          People signed up to Gmail for EMAIL. Now, they're are mixing Twitter functionality with something that I don't want associated with it, AND I HAVE NO CONTROL.

          Too bad they fucked up their initial launch. Because of my privacy concerns, I have shut it off completely, and I will NEVER revisit Buzz ag

          • You blame Gmail for adding Buzz when it wasn't what you "signed up for", and yet you take no responsibility for the fact that you chose to click the "Yes, I'd like to try Buzz" button when entering Gmail. You had the option to click "No, thanks", but you didn't.

            I have no sympathy for you. Perhaps you should first have tried to find out what turning on Buzz would do?

            • No, stupid. Read more carefully. They asked if you want to "check out buzz" or if you would rather go to your inbox. There was no choice to turn it on or off initially. It's on by default and you have to turn if off, which I did.

      • by daveime (1253762)

        He may have found my public profile (which lists two websites, both business-related), but I certainly didn't give him permission to follow me

        I think you fail in comprehending the meaning of the word "public".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tftp (111690)

          I think you fail in comprehending the meaning of the word "public".

          There is a world of difference between:

          a) the public profile - a static Web page that shows text that you personally put there (or allowed to be put there.)

          b) the privilege of seeing contacts and comments made by that person, now and forever.

          For example, all I know about daveime from your public profile on /. is what comments you made here. Imagine if suddenly I get access to your email contacts and, through search or social enginee

      • by antibryce (124264)

        by "cleansed" I assume you mean "clicked Block next to their name"? It's a pretty simple system really, one that seems to show Google did think about how to block "stalkers, spammers and other assorted gentry".

    • Re:The real story (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:33AM (#31125168)

      It shows more eloquently than any privacy advocate ever could why privacy is so important when "you don't have anything to hide."

      No, it doesn't. Because it specifically deals with a case where someone does have something to hide. (Also, it doesn't make sense, since, even with the way Buzz was set up before these change, had to be manually added and prominently displayed its sharing settings. And, further, it seems to be based on faulty assumptions about what the meaning of someone being a "follower" are and what they could see, anyhow.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by McDutchie (151611)

        It shows more eloquently than any privacy advocate ever could why privacy is so important when "you don't have anything to hide."

        No, it doesn't. Because it specifically deals with a case where someone does have something to hide.

        Parent comment is disingenuous. When people say "I don't have anything to hide", they mean that if you don't do anything wrong you have no need for privacy, because you would only want to hide things that are illegal or otherwise wrong. Grandparent comment is exactly correct in pointing out the error of this all-too-common reasoning.

        • Parent comment is disingenuous.

          No, its not.

          When people say "I don't have anything to hide", they mean that if you don't do anything wrong you have no need for privacy

          Uh, no, when people say "I don't have anything to hide", they don't mean "if you don't do anything wrong you have no need for privacy".

          Nor do they mean that when they say "If you don't have anything to hide, you have no need for privacy". There are people who have made the statement "If you aren't doing something wrong, you have no need for pri

      • Except that is NOT the case. It automatically added a picassa album and a blog of mine - BOTH of which were set to "private" or "invite only" - and several people who were set to automatically follow me sent me emails about some of the pictures in my album and comments about the blog posts. I NEVER enabled Buzz (I said "Not right now" when it asked me if I wanted to do it) and I NEVER enabled either the blog or the album to be added.

        This was a total clusterfuck on Google's part. Because of their stupid and

        • Except that is NOT the case. It automatically added a picassa album and a blog of mine

          Neither one of which is Google Reader, and so neither one of which is something I said had to be manually added.

        • Yeah, I totally agree. The guy who designed that Buzz icon totally needs to be punished for contributing to the project. He had a responsibility to make sure that the launch went off without a hitch and in accordance with your desires that he didn't live up to. He definitely needs to lose his job.

    • File this under fall-out from using real people for quality control. Coincidentally, one of the most beneficial uses of Facebook is those extremely lame quizzes that replace paid census groups.

      Beware the lab rat aspect of social networking. It's pretty easy to avoid if you're not an incurable idiot. Sometimes I can't help but be thankful there are so many stupider people out there to determine what's stupid for me. I almost don't need to be smart anymore.

      Yes, that was supposed to be creepy and self-depr

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There is another aspect to the lack of privacy that is slightly more subtle than people seeing someone's contacts on their own profile page.

      Even if you have no public profile and have Buzz "turned off", people you follow / are followed by can still see your following status on others' profiles if you have a follow / followed relationship with that person as well.

      Example: Person A has no public profile, and has Buzz "turned off." Person A follows / is followed by Persons B and C because of the [ridiculous] B

    • I agree about the importance of privacy regardless of where you register on the something-to-hide-o-meter, and I agree that Google really dropped the ball on Buzz's privacy settings, but at the same time you really need to question the wisdom of using a "private Gmail account" for anything other than Gmail. Google's been ladling the social sauce on to all of their services over the past couple of years, so it's not like that person didn't have the opportunity to see this coming.
  • by cytoman (792326) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:26AM (#31124906)
    A brief tutorial about privacy settings and how to do it before letting one activate Buzz would have worked well to stifle such privacy outcries. When I looked into Buzz, all the privacy controls were right there - nothing would be shared if I didn't want it to, and only what I wanted would be shared with only who I wanted to share it with. Very good and tight controls.

    But people are not generally patient enough to pay attention to such details when setting their google profiles and they are the ones who raise a big cry about privacy not being respected.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      except the biggest flaw is that you can't NOT activate buzz. that little "nah, take me to my inbox" link does all the buzz setup behind the scenes and activates your feed regardless. nor can you opt-out after the fact.

    • A brief tutorial about privacy settings and how to do it before letting one activate Buzz would have worked well to stifle such privacy outcries.

      And would have annoyed users that don't like to be treated like infants.

      • by Toonol (1057698)
        And would have annoyed users that don't like to be treated like infants.

        Those people should have the maturity to DEAL WITH IT.
  • Buzz saw (Score:5, Funny)

    by joelsanda (619660) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:34AM (#31124946) Homepage
    Best option for Google user privacy can be found here: http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=32046 [google.com]
  • People don't read. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MBoffin (259181) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:38AM (#31124966) Homepage

    I guess this whole privacy snafu wasn't a big deal to me because I actually read their instructions.

    No, the information about which settings do what weren't in 72pt type, but it's not like they were unintelligible or not there, or not presented to the user right away. But since I actually read the instructions they gave and read the dialog boxes that came up, I didn't lose any privacy I didn't want to lose (or hadn't already given up through other channels).

    People just don't read. Ask any program designer. You know why so many programs have terrible help menus and help files? Because writing them is a thankless job. A fraction of a percent will actually look at the information you give them about how your program works and how to make it do what you want. If they do somehow get around to looking at the information you provide, they don't read it; they skim it for keywords and then barely read enough to try something else.

    So, yes, Google could have made it more clear what was happening when you set up Buzz, but it's not like they yanked your pants down when you weren't looking.

    • by seebs (15766)

      Read the "fuck you google" blog post. If you said *no* to buzz, it could get set up in a harmful way, which you couldn't configure or change because you had it disabled.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MBoffin (259181)

        Read the "fuck you google" blog post. If you said *no* to buzz, it could get set up in a harmful way, which you couldn't configure or change because you had it disabled.

        It still comes down to reading instructions. Even if it means reading instructions in other programs too. I meant it when I said "or hadn't already given up through other channels". Buzz doesn't magically make visible anything that you didn't already have visible. If you had your Reader shared items set to private, they stay that way, but if you had them set to public, well, they're public.

      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        Actually no.. this person just misunderstood what she was seeing, and then when she went to rectify the "problem" discovered that she couldn't.. rather than think that maybe she was just wrong in her initial assumption, and try to actually understand how the system works, she lashed out the way bloggers do - with uninformed, barely intelligible dribble.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BikeHelmet (1437881)

      I never got a page instructing me on anything.

      Is it something to do with using Gmail Notifier to log in?

      I clicked, my mail popped up, and there was this dang coloured round thing on the left, and when I clicked on it it told me I was following a bunch of people and some other crap. I just finished unfollowing and deleting. I don't need all that spam. I'm not even interested in any of the people it auto-followed...

    • I am afraid the entire business model of them are based on the fact that people doesn't read. It is just like spyware (oh sorry, potentially unwanted software!) company who relies on a huge EULA which people will just click "I agree" before it is rendered on screen.

      Their bread and butter is petabytes of personal information, if they really harvest it for their lame/uncontrolled ads, it is the good scenario. If they have another plan, it is even worse.

      The entire income of mainstream media and some popular bl

    • And it still did something that completely stunned me.

      I didn't want buzz. I don't like Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter. I just want a damn e-mail account that just sends e-mail. So when it popped up and asked if I wanted to use Buzz, I clicked No.
      Small point here that is important later...I have never created nor set up a Google Profile.

      So, a friend whom I e-mail quite regularly buzzed a few things. I was automatically set up to follow him. Why? I said, "I don't want Buzz, take me to my inbox."

      Then a fe

  • You have to be at least a tiny bit careful about how you use your power. How is it that Spider-Man figured this out in his first comic, and Google's not figured it out after several years?

    "Don't be evil" is more complicated than just not being actively malicious. [seebs.net]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rarel (697734)
      I disagree. "Being evil" does denote intent in my opinion. They're just being irresponsible and careless with their power, which is just as reprehensible if not more, because they don't realize it.
      • by seebs (15766)

        If you're weak, carelessness isn't a big deal. If you're powerful, carelessness can harm people egregiously. If you know that, and don't care, you're evil. Google does not show any sign of caring how much they hurt people, but they clearly know.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      You have to be at least a tiny bit careful about how you use your power. How is it that Spider-Man figured this out in his first comic, and Google's not figured it out after several years?

      Because Google doesn't have an Uncle Ben? Google's a little closer to MPD like Norman and Harry.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:14AM (#31125086)
    It's that they just don't get Privacy. Yes, we love Google search, GMail and that Beta stuff they do. But they just don't get privacy. To quote Google Executive Eric Schmidt: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

    The trouble is, as the very first post described, we all do things in everyday life we don't want the world to know. Things we're perfectly entitled to do. But Google don't get it. I haven't used Google Docs because I'm scared there's some setting somewhere I won't know to turn off which will expose my documents to the world. Same concerns with GMail. Yahoo might hand your details over to the Chinese Government, but at least you don't need to worry about them telling *everyone* you've ever e-mailed! If a company ever did that, of course it would be Google.

    Google is the sort of company that would break into your house and stick a webcam in your toilet "So you can socialize with your friends when you're sitting on the can." And they would be shocked when the people who find out about it object to it. The public is still largely ignorant about privacy, but with incidents like this slowly they will wake up. Google really needs to hire some serious Privacy experts to counterbalance people like Schmidt who can only see the dollars and not the bigger picture. Right now the best way for an upstart to beat Google is to offer everything they do but with the Privacy settings on max.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      The trouble is, as the very first post described, we all do things in everyday life we don't want the world to know.

      That's not the problem.

      The problem is that some people think that doing these things via media that are expressly public and searchable is somehow "private", and get really riled up whenever someone makes it more convenient for the people who are intentionally posting things via such media to connect it with the people who would be interested (and, conversely, to find the publicly posted thin

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Eighty7 (1130057)
        Just because it's public doesn't mean it's ok to broadcast it. This blog [rosania.org] gives a good example: If you're having an argument with your mate in public, you'd stop very fast if tv cameras show up. Privacy is really about intent & control than about the public/private distinction, which only approximates intent.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Eighty7 (1130057)
          more:

          Privacy isn't a technological binary that you turn off and on. Privacy is about having control of a situation. It's about controlling what information flows where and adjusting measures of trust when things flow in unexpected ways. It's about creating certainty so that we can act appropriately. People still care about privacy because they care about control. Sure, many teens repeatedly tell me "public by default, private when necessary" but this doesn't suggest that privacy is declining; it suggests th

        • Just because it's public doesn't mean it's ok to broadcast it.

          Yes, actually, it does.

          This blog gives a good example: If you're having an argument with your mate in public, you'd stop very fast if tv cameras show up.

          Most people probably would, because the TV cameras are a vivid reminder that they are in the public eye, a fact that they probably weren't particularly cognizant of when the argument started. They'd probably also stop if a random stranger interjected themselves into the already-public argument,

  • by mano.m (1587187) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:20AM (#31125112)
    They released a product. They got feedback from the people who use it. They acted swiftly and concretely, fixing the product by listening to the feedback and making the user experience more relevant and comfortable. I for one wouldn't mind more companies doing the same, and not just in software.
    • by broken_chaos (1188549) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @05:40AM (#31125738)

      They got feedback from the people who use it.

      They also got feedback from the people who didn't want to use it, but weren't given the option to properly opt-out, if I'm reading some of the comments/links correctly...

      • Opting out is effortless. Scroll to the bottom of your gmail page. Turn Buzz off. You can also turn off chat. The links are there. Not hidden unless you consider "bottom of the page" hidden.
    • by nawitus (1621237) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @08:00AM (#31126232)
      No, they forced a product to people who never wanted it. Then they made it *by default* to leak out private details. Then they made the "turn off buzz" option not really working.
      • by Culture20 (968837)

        No, they forced a product to people who never wanted it. Then they made it *by default* to leak out private details. Then they made the "turn off buzz" option not really working.

        You know, that sounds a lot like the IE upgrades.

    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @08:26AM (#31126392)
      Imagine if I was a friend of yours and I walked into your home, saw a priceless antique, and figured I'd move it into another room without consulting you or ensuring that it would arrive safely. Along the way, it breaks because I didn't take proper precautions. I then rush to superglue it back together while you ask me what just happened. I may be taking the appropriate action after the fact, but the initial action was wrong and cannot be undone because something was fundamentally lost in the process.

      They betrayed a trust that millions of people had in them by divulging private information that they were privy to. Shame on them, I say, and this is coming from someone who is normally a Google lover and early adopter of their technologies. This whole thing just left a sour taste in my mouth. There is no defense for what they did.
    • by argent (18001)

      Here's the problems, so far as I can tell from the back-and-forth:

      1. Google Buzz is opt-out.
      2. Google Buzz treats gmail contacts as "friends".
      3. Google Buzz exposes "friends" in your profile. This is also opt-out.

      This means that people who have never interacted with Buzz at all *already* have had their privacy exposed. And people who *have* interacted with buzz may not know about the problem.

      How do you fix this? Well, you can't "unsee" things on the Internet, so they can't undo any compromises that have hap

      • That's not entirely the case. The contacts aren't exposed until someone enables Buzz on the splash screen and creates a Google profile. The problem came with how, initially, it wasn't clear that your contacts would be shared once you did this. This has since been made more clear (see article).

        • by argent (18001)

          You don't need to share your top email contacts to use Buzz. The people you WANT to share "buzz" with may not even be the top email contacts. So it's not something anyone would expect for "creating a profile" to include sharing this information, and sharing them may be a risk.

          Therefore, whether you have created a profile or not, it should be off by default and only enabled by explicit action, not on by default and only disabled by unchecking a box when you create the profile.

          So I don't think they actually u

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @04:02AM (#31125426)
    Google, the company that bought Double Click. Privacy is against their business model. Nuf sed.
    • by selven (1556643)

      Orthogonal? As in Google's interests being equally fulfilled regardless of the privacy situation? Orthogonal is 90', you're looking for "diametrically opposite".

  • opt-out paradigm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by underwhelm (53409) <underwhelmNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @04:36AM (#31125504) Homepage Journal

    First, I'm amazed that Google would stumble out of the blocks like this. Isn't this the same company that keeps things in "beta" and "labs" for years and years? Had this "feature" been available for the general public to play with for a month or three before bringing out the "big guns"--opt-out implementation for all gmail users--these shortcomings would have been caught and remedied before they were inflicted on unsuspecting non-power-users.

    Second, I can certainly appreciate the difficulty of creating the spark of life in a new social network platform. Ordinary players in the market have to hope that lightning strikes. As Google already has learned with Orkut, if lightning doesn't strike, maybe your product can find a niche somewhere in the long tail. Or it will never come to life at all. With Buzz, Google decided they didn't want to risk a sunny day, and chose instead to play with the high voltage line. Insta-social network by compelling everyone to connect with their personal email addresses. Deservedly, they're now getting burned--Gmail was many people's default "real" personal email site. Compelling a connection between people's real personal email address to a social network (on an opt-out basis) might shake people free of that preference...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HigH5 (1242290)
      It seems that Google is in some kind of a hurry and tries to catch-up with Twitter and Facebook using Gmail (quite aggressively) as a leverage. It seems that they didn't ponder a lot about social consequences of their move.
    • they aren't getting burned. the vast, vast majority of people don't have abusive ex-husbands, and don't have people stalking them and in general have nothing they want or need to hide from anyone. that's the average gmail user.

      social networks work when they have critical mass ... and that would have been achieved with buzz only a long time from now or maybe even never if they had defaulted to having it off. google made a decision that the average user would be served better by having it on by default.

      if you

      • by tftp (111690)

        the vast, vast majority of people don't have abusive ex-husbands, and don't have people stalking them and in general have nothing they want or need to hide from anyone.

        People without enemies are either very young or very cowardly.

  • In the wake of massive Buzz privacy problems, Google has announced that its slogan "Don't Be Evil" will be extended for the 2010s with "But Do Be Stupid." [newstechnica.com]

    "I don't see how people could ever have thought it wasn't perfect," said Google marketing marketer Todd Jackson. "We tested it in-house for ages, and our test group of white male engineers all working inside a single corporation thought it was the best thing ever! So of course we didn't see the need for any user testing or opt-in."

    Gmail users have been up in arms at their frequent email contacts and private addresses that forward to Gmail being publicly revealed, their precise GPS location being automatically posted with updates from their mobile phone and that switching off Buzz doesn't actually switch it off.

    "We have heard of the case of the woman whose violent stalker could track her through the Buzz function she didn't actually switch on," said Bishop. "But should she actually be killed, we will of course apologise for her poor product experience. Though it's obvious it's her own fault for not having first found the function hidden behind three panels to untick 'KEEP MY STALKER UPDATED ON MY EVERY MOVE.' Some people just shouldn't be let near computers."

    Jackson emphasised the non-evil nature of Google. "We are most definitely not evil. But if, y'know, evil just sorta happens, well. We just send the rockets up. It's not our job to think about where they land."

  • by Daetrin (576516) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @05:27AM (#31125696)
    At least it hadn't been fixed when i tested it a couple hours ago. If you go to the profile settings there is an option called "Display my full name so I can be found in search." If you uncheck that box and save it your profile will now say "visible to the public as [whatever your nickname is]." YOu'll also get a warning about how your profile won't be searchable as long as that option is disabled, which is exactly what one would expect from the description.

    However if you then try to do something with Buzz ("Like" a post or leave a comment) a browser-internal dialog will pop up asking "How do you want to appear to others?" It's a pretty small dialog with the only thing you can really select being if you want who you follow to be public or not, so clearly this is part of their solution to the complaints about privacy. However if you select "save profile and continue" you will then find that the "Display my full name" checkbox has been turned back on, without any notification at all! And of course if you uncheck it again, the next time you try to do anything with Buzz you'll have to go through the dialog again. There is an "edit" button on the dialog which opens up more options, but even under there there's no option to leave the "display full name" option unchecked. (Although it was hard to determine that since the dialog that pops up is taller than my browser window, so i had to maximize the window just to be able to see it all.)

    Note that you are never told "you must make your full name public in order to use Buzz" and the option itself says nothing about Buzz, just that your profile won't be searchable. It's not clear if that's the behaviour Google wanted (which would be stupid) and they're just not telling us about it (which would also be stupid) or if they just screwed up the dialog and settings in their rush to address the privacy concerns.
  • Nokia which is generally ignored by American public/tech community is testing such "inventions" for years in a real beta form. This far, and let me remind you, Nokia doesn't really make anyone paranoid as Google, nothing they tried has taken off although they have very clever touches for privacy and human emotions.

    For example, their IM app (beta, real beta!) has ability to show generic names for your position only to your friends. Even that thing (like @cafe) bothered people. http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/ [allaboutsymbian.com]

  • So, I looked at that blog post where they specify three points about changes they've made, but I'm stuck at #1. It says that you either need to set that preference when first creating a profile, or else from the Edit Profile page if you've already created a profile (I created a profile a year or two back, so I guess I have to do the latter). Only problem is, I can't find that checkbox anywhere. Can someone clue me in?
  • by cenc (1310167) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:47AM (#31126894) Homepage

    I wonder how many people that do not use the web interface, but have gmail accounts, will not even know they are exposed.

    Going back to using only my own email servers because who knows what stupid thing they are going to dump on the web next.

    • by glwtta (532858)
      I wonder how many people that do not use the web interface, but have gmail accounts, will not even know they are exposed.

      Both of them.

      Do they even make POP/IMAP clients anymore?
  • While I must say, it is a nice feature for many, I was really happy with Gmail as it was, with as little added useless crap and blinking ads and all that what ruins other free mail providers.

    I suspended my Facebook, do not use Twitter, and closed several social networking accounts to escape people bugging me. Now I have this thing popup saying that I am connected and following a bunch of people I do not even want to hear about :(

    Argh ... I think it would have been a nice way to put a popup, a mail or someth

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