Search giant Google has offered an apology for aspects of its new social networking service Buzz that have been criticized as being incredibly invasive to one's privacy.
Last week, IT behemoth Google launched Buzz, a social networking service that would, among other things, automatically generate a friends list based on your Gmail contacts. Of course, said service immediately sparked concerns about privacy - you email your mom, but do you really want her automatically following all of your status updates? For some, it could be even more than embarrassing; it could be downright dangerous.
As it turns out, even something the size of Google isn't unwilling to change (especially not in the face of such potentially awful PR). Over the weekend, a post on the Google Blog announced that Buzz would no longer contain an "auto-follow" feature that would automatically put you and your contacts on each others' lists, but would offer an "auto-suggest" feature that would present the same contacts but give users more control over who would have access to their data.
Buzz's automatic integration is also being scaled back with regards to Google Reader and Picasa, and Gmail will now include a specific Buzz tab where the service can (supposedly) be blocked completely, once and for all. "We quickly realized that we didn't get everything quite right," said Google's Todd Jackson, product manager for Buzz and Gmail, "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."
It's certainly nice to see Google moving to address its significant missteps, but it's also odd to think that a company as forward-thinking and savvy as this one would miss all the potential pitfalls in the original implementation of Buzz. How did nobody there realize the PR nightmare they could have had on their hands?