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3 Things You Should Know Before Using (Or Continuing To Use) Google Buzz

3 Things You Should Know Before Using (Or Continuing To Use) Google Buzz

Is Google evil, or do they just do things without thinking, or are they so used to having sunshine blown up their asses that they’ve lost touch with the rest of the world? I have no idea. The answers to those questions are for the philosophers. I’m here today to alert you to some privacy concerns if you use Google Buzz, many of which you might not know about unless you’ve already been screwed by them. Oh and by the way, if you think you’re safe because you never set up Google Buzz, guess again: I never set mine up, and just realized a lot of stuff is up and running on my profile now, without me knowing. Kinda scary. I’m just glad I only use Facebook to correspond with my friends from prison.

  1. The people you follow and who follow you back is made public by default.
    Buzz followers
    If you have a profile page on Google reader, once you’ve signed up for Google Buzz, everyone you follow and everyone who follows you will be made public on that page, and it doesn’t matter if your followers follow each other or not, they can see it no matter what. This is how Twitter works, but the difference is that with Twitter, you cannot see with whom somebody is exchanging direct messages in private, nor can you see how often it’s occurring. With Buzz, people who follow you can see who emails you the most and who you email the most, in private, unless you decide to opt out of this option, and many early users of Buzz did not know how to do so or that they should do so. You can make these lists invisible, but you have to choose to do so — it is an opt-out process, rather than an opt-in. Here’s how to opt out: 1) opt out during the profile set-up when you first use Buzz, or use the edit profile page to do so.
  2. You can expose private email addresses to everyone who follows you without meaning to do so.
    Google Buzz Design Flaw
    You can inadvertently expose private email addresses to anyone who follows you if you are not careful on Google Buzz. What happens is that when you use the @reply feature on Google Buzz (borrowed from Twitter), Google will autosuggest names from your contact list as you start typing. Assuming you are always using a person’s public profile on Gmail or Google chat in your @reply, it doesn’t really matter, because the @reply will just use the public name, and not the email address. But if you select a name or an account that is not public, Buzz will fill in their private email and display it to everyone who follows you. So say you’ve got the private email address of somebody significant, like Kanye West — what? it could happen — and then you @reply him on Buzz, well now everybody who follows you can see what Kanye West’s private email address is, and now Kanye is getting “Imma let you finish” emails from everyone on your contacts list. And that’s the last time Kanye invites you to anything.
  3. Your Most Frequent Contacts In Google Buzz Have Access To Your Reader Contents By Default.
    Let’s say you have a frequent email contact that you don’t really like. Say, your ex-spouse or something, as was the case with this woman? And so, while you might correspond often with that person, there are many many things you don’t want them to know about you or your life, for example, the fact that you write a blog about all the crap that he did to you while you were still married? Or, if you make comments on reader items that include information you don’t want every one of your regular contacts to know about you? Well, too bad . . . unless you remember to change the settings so that this option doesn’t occur.

Anyone else come across more problems? Google is in the middle of fixing some of these glitches, and for other problems they’ve made the relevant settings clearer, et cetera. The problem is that they don’t consider some of these problems to be, in fact, problems. I’m not particularly concerned about many of these issues, but I can certainly see times in which it would be a problem — you would think somebody at Google would have thought of the same.

Comments (4)

  1. Feb 15, 2010

    Hi. I heard about the privacy issues this weekend. I haven’t attempted to use it. Twitter is enough for me.

    I participated in List Monday http://www.theskinnyfight.com/2010/02/23-songs-on-my-ipod-that-embarrass-me.html

  2. dave
    Feb 16, 2010

    This is outrageous! I never set up buzz or when google asked me to visit buzz I declined even then there is a public profile of me? Is not there a law or something? This can’t be legal!
    I am always against using something that is relatively new or in beta.There could be glitches in the first version.

  3. Feb 16, 2010

    Not necessarily. You should look at your Google profile and see if there’s anything for Buzz, it’s not the same for all users.

  4. Feb 17, 2010

    I’ve never been so happy that I use a separate gmail for the blog-me than I do for the real-life-me. Thanks for the info!

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