Google Buzz has inspired a variety of opinions and reactions since Google released it early February. Some complain it is “blurring the lines between what’s private and what’s public, causing privacy mishaps and email paranoia.” Others think that Google has finally broken onto the social media scene and will replace both Facebook and Twitter in the coming years. Whatever your opinion, one thing is for certain, Google Buzz, like all social media has one inherent flaw: Privacy.
Privacy and safety are of great concern to everyone and the leadership at Google understands this. That is why when Google Buzz was first released and immediately received a backlash of complaints about privacy issues due to their “auto-follow” feature they issued an apology and changed the program. Business Insider summed up the problem this way, “In other words, before you change any settings in Google Buzz, someone could go into your profile and see the people you email and chat with most.” Todd Jackson, Buzz’s Product Manager admitted, “We quickly realized that we didn’t get everything quite right…We’re very sorry for the concern we’ve caused and have been working hard ever since to improve things based on your feedback. We’ll continue to do so.”
While this was a big gaff on Google’s part it was certainly not the first social media blunder. Facebook’s Beacon, according to Wikipedia, “was a part of Facebook’s advertisement system that sent data from external websites to Facebook, ostensibly for the purpose of allowing targeted advertisements and allowing users to share their activities with their friends.” The privacy concerns of this program eventually cost Facebook 9.5 million dollars in a lawsuit settlement.
Mike Elgan, for IT World, recently wrote an entire article about “How to Rob Somebody Using Google Buzz.” His purpose, he stated, wasn’t to encourage theft but to instruct people about the dangers of giving away their location and providing too much personal information over public channels. A commenter responded to the article, “I applaud you for posting such an article to expose the real truth of just how dangerous an on-line presence can be if one doesn’t put into perspective what they are using and/or doing in the process of enjoying this wonderful technology we have.” The danger of social media is the individuals that make up that community. The real world is a dangerous place. It is time people understood that the internet world is just as unsafe