Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Oh dear! It would appear that Google released BUZZ without thoroughly testing it was reported today by the BBC Technology News resulting in security and privacy issues for users of the new social networking tool which operates within Google services such as GMail, Maps etc.

Google has admitted to BBC News that testing of its controversial social network Buzz was insufficient.

The firm has had to make a series of changes to the service after a ferocious backlash from users concerned about intrusions of privacy.

Buzz was launched on 9 February. The service, which is integrated with Gmail, allows users to post status updates, share content and read and comment on friends' posts.

One problem that immediately caused concern was Google's decision to automatically give users a ready-made circle of friends based on the people they most frequently e-mailed.Unless users changed settings in their profile, this list could automatically be made public, allowing anyone to see who a user corresponded with most frequently.

Mr Jackson told BBC News that the decision to create these automatic lists was borne out of the idea that Google "wanted to provide a great user experience straight out of the box".

But privacy experts immediately pointed out this could cause problems for journalists, businesses or even people having an illicit affair.

Evgeny Morozov, a Belarus-born researcher and blogger who looks at the political implications of the internet, also raised concerns.

"If I were working for the Iranian or the Chinese government, I would immediately dispatch my internet geek squads to check on Google Buzz accounts for political activists and see if they have any connections that were previously unknown to the government," he wrote.

As a result of complaints, Google said Buzz would now only suggest people who a user might want to be friends with.

The company has also announced steps to make it easier to disable Buzz altogether and to ensure that people's accounts do not automatically connect with online Picasa photo albums and items that people may store in their Google Reader accounts.

The changes were in part thrashed out at a company-wide meeting on 12 February at Google headquarters.

"We realize that we didn't get things quite right - we're working extremely hard to fix this," said Mr Jackson.

He said that "transparency and control" were "top priorities" and that users would "continue to see improvements".

Asked if the Google founders - Larry Page and Sergey Brin - or any of the executive team would issue an apology for breaching their user's trust, a Google spokesperson said: "Google has apologised - we're very sorry for the concern we caused."

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