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5 Reasons Why Gmail Buzz Privacy Isn't All That Bad  (View post)

zts [PersonRank 0]

Friday, February 12, 2010
10 years ago13,489 views

My major problem with Buzz is that I did not want to be automatically signed up as someone's follower without my consent. It automatically made me a follower of people that I have no real connection with at all (business contacts, one person that I had emailed recently because I was selling something, etc.) By making me their follower, this tells those people that Google thinks I think of them as one of my closest friends. This is wrong and should never have been implemented this way.

I do not want Google to think it knows who I want to be friends with, and automatically link me up with those people. I do not want my private email to become a social network. I have tried very hard to keep these kinds of services separate. I have always trusted gmail with sensitive information, and things like this could erode that trust. When trust is gone it is very hard to get back.

Reid Dossinger [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

The basic reason that the Buzz privacy is still a problem is that I don't have control over where I show up. I can't decide whether I show up in a list of followers on someone else's public profile: I have to rely on that other person turning off that option, which most people are probably not going to think to do.

Likewise for any comments. If I comment on a public item, my comment (along with my full name) shows up on that person's public profile, no matter how private I've made *my* account. And that goes for commenting on it in Reader as well! I wrote a bit about that wellsir.com/2010/02/how-your-g ... here.

Twitter, Facebook and Google are dying to have everyone make everything public. I'm just surprised Google was so pushy about it.

wendy [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

sadly, I won't trust gmail as much as I used to.

Sam Davyson [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

Thanks for the mention Philipp!

I made the statement about what happens when you try to turn off buzz based on trying it out. I've just "buzzed" and now turned off buzz in Gmail.

Look at my profile here: google.com/profiles/samdavyson ...

You can still see the buzz, comment on it, like it etc. (I think) – let me know if you can't.

wendy [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

Biz, in my view buzz must be a completely separate product not even tied up to Gmail at all. And opt-in rather than opt-out.

Now my feelings are: what they are going to try to use Gmail for next?

mbegin [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

[put at-character here]Sam
Yep, I can still see your Buzz tab on your profile – but you have just the one Buzz post from today?

Also can't see the list of followers for you – don't know if you manually turned that off too?

mbegin [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

I was kinda surprised that it wasn't "Google Buzz Beta" -Since when does Google release a product (especially like this one) that isn't Beta?? :)

Richartd Lusk [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

Good article by Erick Schonfeld here:

techcrunch.com/2010/02/11/repl ...

fjpoblam [PersonRank 1]

10 years ago #

Again, Gorg has made this privacy matter an OPT-OUT rather than an opt-in affair, meaning that LACK of privacy is a step that the user must take actively (as it is on search tracking, and email tracking, if indeed the user can fully block tracking at all).

Gorg has sadly failed to create OPT-IN privacy sacrifice!

JDP [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

You need to reassess your stance, Phillip: fugitivus.wordpress.com/2010/0 ... [expanded URL shortener]

Shelley [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

Sometimes I think Google is the most clueless company in the world once they move outside of the one area they shine: search. Dumb mistakes, compounded, again and again.

And the company's lack of respect of privacy is breathtaking.

I'm now working on moving my GMail related actively elsewhere.

Sam Davyson [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

[put at-character here]mbegin – I only have made one post (I deleted the others) and I have follower lists turned off yes.

Jake von Slatt [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

It's not so much the email integration as what it's done to Reader. Reader *felt* relatively private, it was like having a conversation in a bar, you might be overheard but it was still just a convo with your friends.

Along comes Buzz and it's like the other patrons suddenly feel its OK to squeeze into the booth next to your girlfriend and make comments about your discussion.

I'm an IT security guy and I had trouble picking through all of the details and various user interfaces to get thing tweaked they way I wanted. The average Google user is going to be lost and will leak information for which there will be real consequences.

Google needs a comprehensive, single page, privacy control panel for all services.

Margot Kidder [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

I think rent-a-center is offering a special on clues this week.

Any of you folks who still trust Google, be sure to go
get yourselves a couple.

DPic [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

My concern isn't with what Google shows publicly, it's all the information they have on me that whether or not is public, is accessible to people like the US government

quid.pro [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

"By making me their follower, this tells those people that Google thinks I think of them as one of my closest friends. "

Really? You really think OTHER people have some problem with determining who they're real friends are? Wouldn't they just come to the same damn conclusion as everyone else?

I see my son's Den Leader for Cub Scouts listed as a follower or following...I unchecked it. I didn't make any assumptions about whether he thought I was his best friend or not. I'm sure he didn't either. I doubt anyone else thinks through it this way.

There's some googlefail here, sure. But I'm seeing a whole crapload more of PanicFail.

WebSonic.nl [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

Google: We May Remove Buzz From Gmail
searchengineland.com/google-we ...

Full Name [PersonRank 1]

10 years ago #

"correcting" the author: Buzz is connecting people automatically. Period. I was connected to people and vice versa, I called them, none of us had heard of BUZZ. Turning off BUZZ hides the feature only – no way to know if it's off. Once a profile is made it's made. It's a trend in corporate America – "sorry we won't do it anymore" – but Google did do it and now it's done. Millions and millions of profiles. How many people generated a profile before wishing they hadn't – because Google did not inform the user. It's a misrepresentation. Google is the top dog, I know that because Google says so over and over again. So how exactly does the top thinker in the space not anticipate these issues? (Rhetorical question) There is a difference between savvy and slutty. Lack of confidence in Google's integrity.

G-Man [PersonRank 1]

10 years ago #

"Note others may follow you and thus show up on your profile, though."

That is a big Note. Suppose a bunch of your contacts innocently choose to follow you? If your followers are all from a particular area, then anyone who views your profile can guess roughly where you live. If they include therapists or divorce lawyers, then anyone who views your profile can guess how your personal life is going. Of course, none of this would be a big deal if you knew when creating your profile that other people could become associated with it without your say-so.

Also, I'm pretty sure that, as zts says above, Google DOES automatically make you follow some of your most frequent contacts. (I'm not going to go back and test that, because I'm sick of fiddling with it. Sorry. Someone else want to confirm this?)

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

[I wrapped up some of these comments in a follow up post, thanks all! blogoscoped.com/archive/2010-0 ...]

A S [PersonRank 3]

10 years ago #

I am totally unexposed by Buzz so far. I have two GMail accounts, but managed to stay private. I had no public profile on Google. I did share some of my Google Reader items publicly.

When Buzz came out, I did not use it immediately. Decided to wait and see. Good decision.

Although Google shows me that I am following a bunch of contacts and they are following me, none of them can see anything I have shared on Reader, nor can they see any of my followers or people I follow. This is because I have not Buzzed or created a public profile. If / when I do either of those things, I will be sure to carefully tweak the settings to exactly what I want. So, for now, I am totally maintaining my privacy on Buzz.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

A S, doesn't your name now show on potentially publicly searchable Google Profiles of others though, thus letting others sort of piece together what *may* be your social network of Gmail contacts?

Should there be a setting "I don't want to turn up on other's 'who I'm following' lists"?

Shannon Dickinson [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

I tried twice to change my name without my last name and it wouldn't save properly. It was thus broadcasting my full name and address. I don't consider that safe and it's default is not to protect my privacy. This is a problem.

JEShack [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

I can't find the need of this Buzz in my Gmail. And of all these privacy issues, Google should put these feature in the labs.
Sigh. Else, this feature needs to be ripped off. and marked as 'fail'.

Ian Davies [PersonRank 2]

10 years ago #

There is a way of making yourself invisibile on other people's lists of followers. Simply edit your Google profile page (there's now an Edit link by your name in Buzz), and untick the "Display my full name so I can be found in search" box. Now, on the profile pages of people who are following you, you will not be shown. Only the people with public profiles will be listed, and then it will say "... and X more people without public profiles", which is where you are included (without being named or linked).

You can follow people in Buzz in this way without revealing anything about yourself at all, other than your first name and your profile picture (if you've made that public), which are not searchable. You may even be able to delete your profile altogether.

However, if you try to post something in Buzz, you will then be presented with the (recently updated by Google) "How do you want to appear to others?" box, which asks you to make your profile public (displaying your second name). It will not let you post your buzz without clicking the "Save profile and continue" button.

So, in summary, if you don't want to post things to Buzz, you can choose for your Google profile not to be public and not to display your surname. You can still follow others' activity in Buzz. If you want to post things, even if only privately to certain groups, you have to make your profile public.

Grega M. [PersonRank 1]

10 years ago #

Due to all the problems, I have turned the buzz off. However, it seems that all the people who have been following me, are still following me (I turned the buzz back on today and I saw that the number of my followers did not change). I am not sure how this information (that they are following me) is displayed when I have my buzz turned off. I would expect not to exist in the buzz when I turn it off.

Or is there another way of "deleting your account" in buzz? Other than deleting my gmail account?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

> and untick the "Display my full name so I can be
> found in search" box.

What's the default here, do you know? E.g. if you only use Gmail and never cared about your profile page, and you didn't use Buzz, will you still be shown on other people's profiles if they follow you?

Ian Davies [PersonRank 2]

10 years ago #

> What's the default here, do you know?

As far as I can tell, the "Display my full name..." option will not be selected in a user's profile until the user tries to post a Buzz, and hits the "Save profile and continue" button when the "How do you want to appear to others?" box pops up, which asks them to make their profile public before posting.

I just did a test in an account that is only used for Gmail and which hadn't yet clicked onto Buzz. This account has no Google profile, public, private or otherwise. If I click onto Buzz, it gives me the "How do you want to appear to others?" box, asking me to create a public profile. Interestingly, on this account with no profile created, the "Show the list of people I'm following and the list of people following me on my profile" option is ticked by default. I've clicked "Cancel, don't post", and that account still has no profile, and cannot post anything until I create one. However, I can follow people without a profile being created. Also, people who have my email address in my contacts list have been able to follow me, because they email me often and must have had my account suggested to them.

On my 'main' account, on the other hand, I have Buzz enabled, but have now set up groups so that my Tweets are only being shown to Friends, my Web Albums are only being shown to Friends and Family, and my shared Reader items are only being shown to a select group of people with similar interests to myself. I think the privacy options could be made more obvious, but it looks like Google's getting onto the right track.

Jack-o-Lantern [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

I'm looking at buzz posts with mobile buzz.
Luckly I can view it without having to post or having to setup a full profile (that is required to post but I'm scared to do so).

Now, google maps on my nexus one....
I can see a lot of public post that include:
1) message written by the user
2) full name of the user (first and last names)
3) exact location

I've tried to post a buzz (stopping at first confirm lagel/privacy stuff)
On first screen used to post I was able to:
1) write a message and eventually add a link or a photo from my galley or take one right away with my phone camera.
2) select if I wanted to use my location (default).
Trying to change it, gives a list of places in the area probably taken from yellow pages and the like. Oh well, so if your location isn't precise enougth you can even select not only the address but also that your therapyst and wich one just in case that there's more than one at the address/building.
3) no way to know what name will be shown when posting so you can't know what is used from the profile
4) no way to post something that isn't public
(for this last one I'm not sure but I didn't found a way to post a private message with buzz inside gmaps on my android)

So, what could be the home address of "Maria Rossi" (name of fantasy) that writes something like "This evening just salad for dinner, some tv and bed early" ???

Trying google mobile, address taken automatically is very very precise. I was indoor, gps yet trying to get a fix. Anyway my position was correctly spotted. The street was correct. The street number was wrong and took the number next to me. But and address that if wrong, it is by a couple of house next each other....

About interface on web version of buzz....

1) clumsy and hard to spot what is happening even if I know and understand computers, web and whatever.
2) hard to know what your profile is for. Yes, you can figure out what a prifile is, but wan't better to have a profile just for buzz with a function to copy information from main profile to the buzz one?
So that in current situation I don't know if I can just modify a name from my profile to have it changed only in buzz... or if it's better to not change anything because changing something you will change appearance in other services too.
3) I've managed to unfollow anyone, block everyone was already following me (wasn't easy), I turned off showing profile and showing my followers/following in my profile...
But now, if in the future I'll decide to give it a try again....
How do I unblock all the blocked contacts? How do I show a list of blocked contacts so I unblick them?

and finally a comment about what google told yesterday....
Yes, millions used buzz. Yes, millions of buzzes were sent.
But this is just because the average man is going to try the new feature that had been placed in so evidence. Not because the service is well done.

tecnically buzz service works well. But interface and privacy aspect have to work as well.

Ian Davies [PersonRank 2]

10 years ago #

Google Reader is a strange one. When trying to change who your Reader Shared Items are shown to, it says you have to go to Google Reader's settings to make the change. ("To change who can see your Reader shared items, please visit your Google Reader shared settings").

Now, this is a problem for me. I don't mind the Shared Items page being publicly viewable, but I don't necessarily want updates to it pushed out to my family members, and others who simply aren't interested. In Picasa Web Albums, on the other hand, the albums can be public (so that people from my website can view them, for example), but in Buzz I have it set so that new Picasa updates are only pushed out to Family and Friends (there are people following me who I don't necessarily want to advertise my Web Albums to). In reader, however, I do not have this option. That means that I unfortunately now have to make my Reader Shared Items page private, so that I can restrict Buzz's update reports to only certain people.

Bram A [PersonRank 1]

10 years ago #

> What's the default here, do you know?

I can confirm Ian Davies, on default your google profile is hidden so you dont show up as follower or being followed with your name (and profile) to contacts of the people who follow you or are followed by you.

But when your profile was already public when buzz rolled out, you imediatly appeared as follower or being followed in the list of followers/following of all the people who you automaticly followed or follow you and ALSO had a public profile.

For example: I didnt have a public profile on the rollout of buzz, but some of my friends have. So I could immediately see the people (with public profiles) who my friends (with public profiles) were following. And I can still see that now. I concern that as a privacy issue, because the people who my friend was following at the moment of the buzz rollout are clearly people from his contact list (and who he has contact with often).

In other words: when you had a public profile at the rollout of buzz, anyone who would find you in buzz could see the people you often contact with (according to the google automatic follow/be-followed algorithem), if.. they also had a public profile. (Unless you were fast and unfollowed the people you didnt want to bee seen with before someone else found you in buzz.)

Joanna [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

This is a very bad article. Your reasons for why Buzz is not a disaster are lame and misleading. I'm sorry to be so harsh! But you are not taking the perspective of average users. My sister teaches computing at Jr. High (11 & 12 year olds) and did not understand that what she posted on my posts was visible to people she didn't know until one told her. OK, unlike me she doesn't have a PhD from MIT, but she is going to be above average for gmail users.

The fact you can turn it off does indeed mean the world hasn't ended, but it doesn't mean Buzz itself is not a disaster.

Also, google automatically put a contact I have blocked onto my follower list.

I shut it off within 4 hours. My most enthusiastic initial-adopter friend (who works for Slide) shut it off yesterday.

Bram A [PersonRank 1]

10 years ago #

Sorry, I am wrong.
I tested it out with one of my Gmail accounts. I made my profile public and then i opened Buzz. And it still showed me the "How do you want to appear to others" – dialog with the option "Show the list of people I'm following and the list of people following me on my profile".

So again, I was wrong, in the beginning even if you have a public profile; your followers and people you follow wont be visible to others unless you confirmed that the first time you use Buzz.

Jason Ferris [PersonRank 0]

10 years ago #

You can't turn buzz off.

That only hides it from the web interface.

Check the gmail mobile interface and you'll see it's still there and fully functional.

A S [PersonRank 3]

10 years ago #

> if you only use Gmail and never cared about your profile page, and you didn't use Buzz, will you still be shown on other people's profiles if they follow you?

I don't think you'll be shown on other people's profiles in this situation. I have never used Buzz myself and I have not created a Google profile. I checked all my followers who have public profiles. This is what I found:

1. If I am NOT logged into Google and I go to my follower's public profiles, I am not able to see any information about the people they are following or people who are following them.

2. If I am logged into Google and I go to my follower's public profiles, I could see the followers-following lists on some profiles, and not on others. I am guessing that some people are not displaying their followers-following lists on their profiles by tweaking some setting.

3. If I am logged into my Google account and I go to my follower's public profiles and they have chosen to display their followers-following lists, I can see full names on those lists. I can see the names of only people who have public profiles. I cannot see the names of followers-followees who don't have public profiles.

A S [PersonRank 3]

10 years ago #

Here's my conclusions as someone who doesn't have a public Google profile and who has not used Buzz (so far):

1. If you (and your followers-followees) have explicitly chosen to keep something private (or shared with only limited people), Google will not violate your settings.

2. If you (and your followers-followees) have shared things publicly, regardless of whether you have done so deliberately or inadvertently, Buzz has made your content more easily displayable and discoverable.

The case of the now-infamous "Fuck you, Google!" blogger is one of inadvertently sharing things publicly. For example, for a long time, she was sharing her Google Reader items publicly even though she really wanted to share it only with her boyfriend. There are ways in which she could have shared those items only with her boyfriend, but she went the public route. When Buzz came along, she was caught off-guard.

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

No need to apologize, Joanna [ [Up] blogoscoped.com/forum/167631.h ...], it was a stream of bad arguments. Google feels the pressure to compete with all-the-rage social networks, esp. the Facebook entity. So it tries to leverage its vast user/ subscriber lists by forcibly corralling those it already knows to have exchanged letters in the past to become one another's "social buddies" and -networkers. A very questionable tactic. Ergo: no Buzz for me!

Chris Lang [PersonRank 1]

10 years ago #

In the end, I don't really see what the problem is....

Showing my followers on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Stumble and 10 other platforms is not much different than Google showing the Google profiles of my friends and followers.

We have been teaching anyone willing to listen that this has been the case through out all Google properties in Gwave Mastery for two years now.

Google Contacts is your friends list and we have been advising everyone to separate their business from their Gmail and or set up Gmail accounts just for Google Wave and what is now Google Buzz.

As far as Buzz causing problems for business contacts in Gmail, I have to kinda wonder what kind of business uses Gmail. I run my business email off my domain.

I know, I know, Google apps and all that. But still I chuckle when a serious business sends me email from a Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail address.

Lastly, negotiating spam filters when you use a free email address from your mailing list as the from address is a quick way to land in the spam folder...

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

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