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Google Technology

Google Tweaks Buzz To Tackle Privacy Concerns 153

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:34AM (#31124944)

    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.

  • by oh_bugger ( 906574 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:44AM (#31125002)
    The "turn off Buzz" link doesn't actually clean everything up and make things private again. It's misleading. [cnet.com]
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <qg@biodome.org> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @03:29AM (#31125160) Homepage Journal

    Ok, no worries, let me explain it to you.

    First of all, find one of these people who you think is following you and click on their profile. For example:

    http://www.google.com/profiles/william.pomerantz#buzz [google.com]

    Now click on the link that says "William is following 67" or whatever, and look for you name. If you don't see your name, then there's no problem.. but if you do and you don't want that, here's how to fix it:

    1. Go to YOUR profile. It will most likely be like Will's, in that it is your name after /profiles/ .. and it would only be like this if you *gave* Buzz you name and clicked the box that says "Display my full name so I can be found in search", and if you said you wanted a nice custom url, otherwise it'll just be some arbitrary number.
    2. Uncheck the box that says "Display my full name so I can be found in search"..
    3. Remove your full name from the boxes if you want.

    Now you can go back to the page of the person who is following you... and select "William is following 67" again, and you will discover that you are now listed in the "other people who do not have public profiles" section.

    If you want you can also do:

    4. click the link that says "Block" after "[Whoever] is following you".

    But you don't need to, because your name is no longer public.... of course, I have no idea how you would have gotten a public profile without asking for one... it took me about 3 attempts to figure out how to get one..

  • by broken_chaos ( 1188549 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @06:40AM (#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...

  • by Mathinker ( 909784 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @07:35AM (#31125952) Journal

    > you are handing your information over to other people, you can't make assumptions
    > about what they'll do with it.

    This is not making assumptions, rather, it is assigning a risk factor, which is something all of us, including you, do 24/7 (well, at least during all sober waking hours), in order to survive. You do it whenever you drive (never "assume" that the car coming from the other direction isn't going to swerve into your lane?), whenever you deposit money in the bank (or you never "assume" that the bank won't make some mistake, or that your identity won't get stolen, and your money will disappear?), etc.

    Your post seems to me to be based on a fallacy which I cannot name, which I will call "reality is binary". This fallacy is common in the security realm, where, for example, people see that a one-time pad is the only absolutely secure encryption and believe it is superior to AES, when the reality is that it never pays to make something absolutely secure, it only pays to make everything secure enough that it isn't worthwhile to make it more secure (and, of course, there is nothing which is absolutely secure, even using a one-time pad, because security also isn't binary).

    To avoid this fallacy, you should have said "when you put your information on the internet, it is less private", but of course, that doesn't have the authoritative ring and doesn't look as good in bold letters. Effectively, your post should have dealt with the relative advantages to the woman for using Google Reader to communicate in a semi-private way vs. the probability that something would change and the information would become less private (as it did) and the damages that would cause.

  • by nawitus ( 1621237 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:00AM (#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.
  • Re:The real story (Score:3, Informative)

    by beadfulthings ( 975812 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:07AM (#31126262) Journal

    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.

  • Re:The real story (Score:3, Informative)

    by Colz Grigor ( 126123 ) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:07PM (#31127966) Homepage

    Well thanks, at the very least, for linking to the video of the quote, so people have a chance to see that you (and the parent) have used it entirely out of context.

    Here's the full quote:
    Interviewer: "People are treating Google like their most trusted friend. Should they be?"
    Eric Schmidt: "Well, I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. But if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines including Google do retain this information for some time, and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities."

    While the quote _is_ Eric Schmidt's opinion of privacy, specifically it's his opinion of how much privacy one should expect from a search engine in light of the Patriot Act.

    Do you think any differently than Eric Schmidt does?

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"