Google has jumped into the social media realm and introduced Google Buzz, its venture into social media. We’ll ignore the fact that Yahoo sneakily launched a product by the same name some time ago that got almost no attention at all and see what Buzz is about.
If you’ve activated Buzz, you’ll see a Buzz link right next to your inbox. Your most popular Gmail contacts are already included as Buzz contacts. This is the first problem. Let’s look at my Gmail contacts who have Gmail accounts, shall we? A few people from NaNoWriMo, a few people I was contacting about housing, and a lot of random Facebook emails thanks to Facebook’s handy “reply via email” feature. Not all that many people. It’s not because I know no one–quite the contrary, actually. I choose to contact everyone I do know through other means, whether through Twitter, private messages on various forums, Facebook (shudder), or even on the phone (gasp). People can contact me through email, and my email address isn’t too hard to figure out, but the people who choose to contact me through email are, as a general rule, not that likely to contact me in other ways.
So why Google think adding them as your initial Google Buzz contacts was a good idea? This was the first and most obvious privacy loop that users thought of when Google announced a mysterious social platform. Speculations abounded about how Google would cover this. In the end they chose not to, even going so far as to making these contacts public in the Google profile that you have to create (with, at the very least, your first and last name) in order to use Google Buzz. You can make your contacts private now, but the original damage has been done.
I’ll be passing on Buzz for now.