Google Apologizes for Buzz Fuss, Stops Automation

Ryan Calo, a residential fellow at the Center for Internet & Society, is quoted in CIO Today about the online privacy of Google users with regards to Google's launch of Buzz, it's social-media network:

Google's Todd Jackson has apologized for the Google Buzz fiasco in which Gmail users contacts were made public without notice. In response to user complaints, Google has further tweaked Google Buzz so matchups and sharing are no longer automatic. A security lab reported that in just two days, a Google Buzz spammer had linked to 237 people.

Google's effort to launch a social-media network on top of its existing 143 million Gmail users had a rough first week. Within days of last week's launch of Google Buzz, it was hard to keep up with users' privacy complaints and the company's rapid responses. Being automatically linked to contacts was a nonstarter. So was having those contacts revealed to other Gmail users.

So as the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant looked ahead at how to make Buzz more marketable, company executives also looked back, admitting it might not have been a good idea to beta-test the system only with Google employees.


Ryan Calo, a residential fellow at the Center for the Internet and Society at Stanford University Law School, said the user revolt against Buzz's default privacy settings reinforced the notion that even in an age of exploding blog and social-media use, Internet users are still protective of their privacy.

"I wish Google had anticipated these privacy issues in advance and built them into the user experience from the beginning," said Calo. "But I think there's good news in here for privacy advocates, too, namely that users care enough to object to sharing their information by default, and that a company like Google responds quickly."