Google has made some changes to its Buzz social network tool
after numerous complaints about privacy.
Buzz allows Gmail users to share updates, video, photos and
links to other sites, as well as connect to popular services like Flickr and
Twitter, all from within Gmail. However, users have complained about Buzz being
automatically tied to their Gmail account without their permission, and that
information they considered private (such as their most frequent contacts) had
been made public.
Addressing the latter issue, known as ‘auto-following’,
Google said it had now been changed to ‘auto-suggesting’, meaning users won't
be set up to follow anyone until they have reviewed the suggestions and clicked
"Follow selected people and start using Buzz".
Users can review the list of people they’re following by
going to the Buzz tab, clicking "Following XX people" and unfollowing
anyone they wish. If they don't want to share the lists of people who are
following them and people they are following publicly on their profile, they
can opt out at any time from the edit profile page.
“Second, Buzz will no longer connect your public Picasa Web
Albums and Google Reader shared items automatically,” Google said in a blog
posting. “Just to be clear: Buzz only automatically connected content that was
already public, so if you had previously shared photos in an ‘Unlisted’ album
or set your Google Reader shared items as ‘Protected’, no one except the people
you'd explicitly allowed to see your stuff has been able to see it. But due to
your feedback Buzz will no longer connect these sites automatically.
“Third, we're adding a Buzz tab to Gmail Settings. From
there, you'll be able to hide Buzz from Gmail or disable it completely. In
addition, there will be a link to these settings from the initial start-up page
so you can easily decide from the get go that you don't want to use Buzz at
Google says it realises it “didn’t get everything right” and
is “sorry for the concern it caused”.