Google Buzz – the fallout

When I wrote about Google Buzz the other day, I maintained that it was a badly thought-out and directionless project. Even so, I didn’t expect the huge backlash in the days that followed – raging blog posts, groveling apologies and even a lawsuit. Has Google really messed this one up?

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To their credit, Google have reacted fast. The internet giant has made it easier to disable or remove Buzz by introducing a Buzz panel when you access your Settings or click the “turn off buzz” button at the very bottom of your screen. To protect privacy – the main concern of Buzz haters, it seems – Google have given us more opportunities to block people, and the list of people you are following is no longer automatically searchable from Google. My big gripe – the auto-following – has been discontinued and replaced with an auto-suggest function – but only for first-time users. The rest of us are still stuck with the dilemma of what to do with those auto-awkwards – the people following you who can only be discouraged with a rather harsh block.

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As we’ve all seen from Facebook and other internet privacy meltdowns, things can get pretty heated on the web. My guess is that most people don’t really care about privacy – it’s just that the ones who do make a lot of noise. What struck me most about the Buzz fiasco, however, is how Google got it SO wrong. Did the Buzz project manager fall asleep? Did they give the job to a hapless intern? Either way, Google dropped the ball big time. Let’s just hope it taught them a lesson, eh?

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