×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google Tweaks Buzz To Tackle Privacy Concerns

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the who's-zooming-who dept.

Google 153

CWmike writes "Just two days after launching its Buzz social networking tools, Google said Thursday night that it had tweaked the technology to address early privacy concerns. Google said in a blog post that the quick updates makes it easier for users to block access to their pages and eases the path to finding two privacy features. 'We've had plenty of feature requests, and some direct feedback,' wrote Todd Jackson, a product manager for Gmail and Google Buzz, in the blog post. 'In particular there's been concern from some people who thought their contacts were being made public without their knowledge (in particular the lists of people they follow, and the people following them). In addition, others felt they had too little control over who could follow them and were upset that they lacked the ability to block people who didn't yet have public profiles from following them.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

153 comments

The real story (5, Interesting)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124874)

This blog [wordpress.com] shows what really happened:

I use my private Gmail account to email my boyfriend and my mother.
There’s a BIG drop-off between them and my other “most frequent” contacts.
You know who my third most frequent contact is?
My abusive ex-husband.
Which is why it’s SO EXCITING, Google, that you AUTOMATICALLY allowed all my most frequent contacts access to my Reader, including all the comments I’ve made on Reader items, usually shared with my boyfriend, who I had NO REASON to hide my current location or workplace from, and never did.

It shows more eloquently than any privacy advocate ever could why privacy is so important when "you don't have anything to hide."

--
find a co-founder [fairsoftware.net]

Re:The real story (-1, Flamebait)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124924)

May be, if she doesn't want her abusive ex-husband to know, she shouldn't be doing it?

Re:The real story (1)

bschorr (1316501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124950)

Shouldn't be doing what? Getting a job or having a home?

Maybe there needs to be a way for her to remove her abusive ex from her list of contacts.

Re:The real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124984)

and there is.

I always start with the assumption that whatever thing I want a piece of software to do is possible, and start looking for it. If something is very hard to find it may as well not be possible, but give Google credit for fixing the problem fast, and at least having the feature in the first place.

Richard Marx Stallman is a communist pedophile (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125304)

"I am skeptical of the claim that voluntarily pedophilia harms children. The arguments that it causes harm seem to be based on cases which aren’t voluntary, which are then stretched by parents who are horrified by the idea that their little baby is maturing."

--Richard Stallman

Re:The real story (3, Insightful)

mhwombat (1616301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125048)

Maybe she should have to explicitly add her abusive ex-husband to her list of contacts before anything is made visible to him. I hate opt-out stuff. Give me a list of "possible contacts", sorted by likelihood, blocked by default, and let me unblock them. Don't start them off unblocked!

Re:The real story (-1, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125296)

So why aren't you pissed off with Twitter? Anyone can follow me on Twitter.. if I want to do some "private" feed I need to say I want that.

Re:The real story (4, Insightful)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125460)

Twitter is used for public communication.

E-mail, Gmail is front-end of, is used for private communication.

Why the difference is so hard to understand??

Re:The real story (1)

CDPS (1106089) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127220)

On the other hand, there have been numerous privacy snafus with the free public email services. Somebody that is worried about their physical safety but is sending extremely sensitive information via these services is frankly rather stupid at this point!

Re:The real story (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31127700)

No one is claiming that her gmail was exposed to the world, just the things she publicly shared in Reader. This has nothing to do with gmail. Buzz just allowed these things to be more easily connected. She was relying on anonymity via obscurity WRT her ex.

Re:The real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125218)

The GP is repeating a quote made by one of the Google founder's (Eric something?) about how "privacy is no longer important", the quote was, as the GP said "If you need privacy then maybe you shouldn't be doing it?" (Not exact, this is from memory)

The GP was pointing out how that douchebag's statement is detached from reality.

Re:The real story (3, Insightful)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125262)

How about, she shouldn't be posting her home or work address on the internet? I understand that doesn't entirely solve the problem (maybe she works at a well known local company with only one location, etc), but people need to learn that when you put your information on the internet, it is no longer private. I would hope that personal email accounts continue to be private, but honestly, you are handing your information over to other people, you can't make assumptions about what they'll do with it.

Wow, you're a careful dude (4, Informative)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125952)

> you are handing your information over to other people, you can't make assumptions
> about what they'll do with it.

This is not making assumptions, rather, it is assigning a risk factor, which is something all of us, including you, do 24/7 (well, at least during all sober waking hours), in order to survive. You do it whenever you drive (never "assume" that the car coming from the other direction isn't going to swerve into your lane?), whenever you deposit money in the bank (or you never "assume" that the bank won't make some mistake, or that your identity won't get stolen, and your money will disappear?), etc.

Your post seems to me to be based on a fallacy which I cannot name, which I will call "reality is binary". This fallacy is common in the security realm, where, for example, people see that a one-time pad is the only absolutely secure encryption and believe it is superior to AES, when the reality is that it never pays to make something absolutely secure, it only pays to make everything secure enough that it isn't worthwhile to make it more secure (and, of course, there is nothing which is absolutely secure, even using a one-time pad, because security also isn't binary).

To avoid this fallacy, you should have said "when you put your information on the internet, it is less private", but of course, that doesn't have the authoritative ring and doesn't look as good in bold letters. Effectively, your post should have dealt with the relative advantages to the woman for using Google Reader to communicate in a semi-private way vs. the probability that something would change and the information would become less private (as it did) and the damages that would cause.

Re:The real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126604)

He was joking about the comment that imbecile Eric Schmidt guy made re privacy.

Re:The real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125030)

Insightful & flamebait? I think the parent was going for funny!

Re:The real story (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125468)

Not flambait. This is what Google CEO Eric Schmidt actually believes [theregister.co.uk]

Mod parent up!

Re:The real story (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125050)

Well, the fact is that this person, who is clearly non-technical, was misinterpreting what she was seeing. This is the fault of the engineers for writing a crappy UI (it's called "consensus presentation" in UI class guys) but no actual harm was done. None of her private Reader posts were delivered to her abusive ex-husband or the stalkers who email her - it just looked that way because she assumed that if its in her buzz feed then it's in theirs, cause that's the way it works on Twitter/Facebook. Actually, that's not precisely true, she also confused 'follower' and 'following' in a way that makes no sense for those other two services too.

Re:The real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125126)

This is the fault of the engineers for writing a creepy UI

Fixed that for you

Re:The real story (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125190)

Uhhh.. no you didn't. What you did was misconstrue what I was saying..

Twitter, and Buzz, (and I guess Facebook, I don't use it so I don't really know) are RSS feeds for the masses.

They aggregate "updates" together and show you a feed. My feed looks different to your feed, that's the point of it. In order to facilitate conversation the outgoing feed and the incoming feed are aggregated into a single feed. So when I say "hey folks, just signed up to Buzz", it appears in my feed, even though I'm not following myself. That way when someone says "hey, me too!" 15 minutes later I don't have to remember what I said 15 minutes ago.. it looks like upside-down chat.

One of the nifty features of Buzz (and I expect Twitter to copy it soon if it hasn't already) is that you can subscribe to a blog through it.. then whenever someone posts something on their blog you get an update and can go check it out. Unfortunately, this feature was not adequately explained, so when little-miss-freaks-out-alot here decided to tick the "add my reader to my feed" button she assumed she had just broadcast its contents to everyone. That is, she confused the outgoing feed with the incoming feed.

The Google engineers have failed to indicate clearly the origin and destination of updates in the aggregated feed.

Simply put, they shoved in a feature that they thought was neat but didn't consider its UI impact.

Re:The real story (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125242)

One of the nifty features of Buzz (and I expect Twitter to copy it soon if it hasn't already) is that you can subscribe to a blog through it.. then whenever someone posts something on their blog you get an update and can go check it out. Unfortunately, this feature was not adequately explained, so when little-miss-freaks-out-alot here decided to tick the "add my reader to my feed" button she assumed she had just broadcast its contents to everyone. That is, she confused the outgoing feed with the incoming feed.

Actually, I'm pretty sure that when you add Reader to Buzz, (which, when I signed on to Buzz which was before the recently-announced changes, was not automatic, you had to manually add it) it adds actions through Reader to the outgoing Buzz with the sharing settings set up for reader (which is why when you add Reader to Buzz, it shows whether its set to be shared publicly or privately and allows you to change that setting.)

Still, even with the autofollowing, it would have taken an active choice to add Reader to Buzz followed by ignoring the prominent display that the sharing settings for Reader are public to expose anything to an unwanted follower, so I am having trouble blaming Google for it rather than the user if, in fact, any such unwanted sharing occurred, rather than just a misunderstanding of what "following" means.

Re:The real story (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125178)

If she enabled Buzz, I don't see it as necessarily the case that she's misinterpreting it. When I enabled Buzz, instantly I was following 8 people, and 7 of those people were following me back, based on the fact that we'd email a bunch. As I read it, that's what she thinks happened--- that Google had her ex-husband auto-follow her, because they'd exchanged emails. Unlike Facebook, you don't have to approve followers, either. And, your Google Reader comments are by default visible to your followers, something I also didn't realize until one of those 7 followers of mine commented on a post of mine.

Now in my case those 7 auto-followers are people I actually know and don't object to following me, and I had nothing particularly private in my Google Reader comments, but it was still quite surprising and felt a bit weird that it was all done automatically. I would've felt much more comfortable if Google used email history to suggest contacts, but I still had to approve people individually before they could get access to my stuff. It'd also be nice if it asked me explicitly if I wanted my Google Reader comments shared over Buzz.

Re:The real story (1)

Homburg (213427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126324)

your Google Reader comments are by default visible to your followers

Is that the case, even if you've previously set your Reader comments to be visible only to specific people (as the blogger in this case apparently had)?

Re:The real story (3, Interesting)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126690)

When it popped up asking if I wanted to use Buzz, I said "no, not right now" and it still enabled it and auto-set me as following people and being followed. So then I said okay, fine, I'll set it up. So I told it to stop following certain people and made certain people not follow me. Next thing I know, it's "found" the people I just said I didn't want to follow anymore and asking me if I want to follow them. I also found people I set to not follow me were following me again and had to block them again. At this point I gave up.

So yea, fuck google on this one. They screwed up big time on this feature release. I've blocked everyone and turned it off now, no idea if that's actually doing anything or not though. Thank god I never filled out my google profile or linked it to another account of any kind.

Re:The real story (2, Interesting)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126890)

Oh, and this is grand. I log into google reader, and people I blocked in Buzz are following me there. FFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.

Re:The real story (3, Interesting)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125108)

You don't even have to have an abusive ex-husband. I found I had acquired a follower with the unlikely name of "Kleetman Nissanka." Our buddy Kleetman seems to have assembled a collection of people to follow--all of whom are women, and all of whom have the same first name as mine. He may have found my public profile (which lists two websites, both business-related), but I certainly didn't give him permission to follow me. I have now cleansed Kleetman from my profile and re-disabled Buzz. I guess people at Google don't have to worry about stalkers, spammers, and other assorted gentry.

Re:The real story (0)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125216)

I found I had acquired a follower with the unlikely name of "Kleetman Nissanka." Our buddy Kleetman seems to have assembled a collection of people to follow--all of whom are women, and all of whom have the same first name as mine.

And...so what? Unless you expressly chose to share things either privately with this particular person or publicly, them "following" you doesn't provide them any information at all.

He may have found my public profile (which lists two websites, both business-related), but I certainly didn't give him permission to follow me.

All following does is set up what amounts to a persistent search for someone's publicly-posted Buzz -- all of which is searchable and will turn up for anyone who does a search whether or not they are a follower.

Following doesn't provide access to any information that the person couldn't get without following. If you want to keep random strangers from information, you share it privately, if at all. Which is trivial to do with Buzz.

I guess people at Google don't have to worry about stalkers, spammers, and other assorted gentry.

I'm guessing that they do. I'm also guessing that they understand the difference between "public" and "private", and thus aren't surprised that things that are expressly labelled as "public" are exposed to the public, and chose to send information that they don't want seen by the public through mechanisms identified as "private".

Re:The real story (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125222)

Umm.. that's the same on Twitter, where only if you have a private profile do you need to specifically "allow" followers.. by default, anyone can follow anyone, and if you don't like someone, you block them.

Re:The real story (2, Informative)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126262)

Both of you are missing the point. Both Twitter and Facebook can be set up to confront you directly and say something along the lines of, "Kleetman is now following you/wants to be your friend. OK with you? (yep/nope)" That provides the opportunity to opt out (as it were) and the opportunity to do a bit of trivial checking-up if desired. The perception of being followed by a mysterious individual who roams the Intertubes assembling lists of women named "Anne" is just plain distasteful.

Re:The real story (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127674)

The perception of being followed by a mysterious individual who roams the Intertubes assembling lists of women named "Anne" is just plain distasteful.

PokémAnne: gotta catch'em all!

Re:The real story (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125168)

It shows more eloquently than any privacy advocate ever could why privacy is so important when "you don't have anything to hide."

No, it doesn't. Because it specifically deals with a case where someone does have something to hide. (Also, it doesn't make sense, since, even with the way Buzz was set up before these change, had to be manually added and prominently displayed its sharing settings. And, further, it seems to be based on faulty assumptions about what the meaning of someone being a "follower" are and what they could see, anyhow.)

Re:The real story (2, Insightful)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126266)

It shows more eloquently than any privacy advocate ever could why privacy is so important when "you don't have anything to hide."

No, it doesn't. Because it specifically deals with a case where someone does have something to hide.

Parent comment is disingenuous. When people say "I don't have anything to hide", they mean that if you don't do anything wrong you have no need for privacy, because you would only want to hide things that are illegal or otherwise wrong. Grandparent comment is exactly correct in pointing out the error of this all-too-common reasoning.

Re:The real story (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125438)

File this under fall-out from using real people for quality control. Coincidentally, one of the most beneficial uses of Facebook is those extremely lame quizzes that replace paid census groups.

Beware the lab rat aspect of social networking. It's pretty easy to avoid if you're not an incurable idiot. Sometimes I can't help but be thankful there are so many stupider people out there to determine what's stupid for me. I almost don't need to be smart anymore.

Yes, that was supposed to be creepy and self-deprecating. So is the motivation behind the capitalism of social networking.

Re:The real story (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125670)

There is another aspect to the lack of privacy that is slightly more subtle than people seeing someone's contacts on their own profile page.

Even if you have no public profile and have Buzz "turned off", people you follow / are followed by can still see your following status on others' profiles if you have a follow / followed relationship with that person as well.

Example: Person A has no public profile, and has Buzz "turned off." Person A follows / is followed by Persons B and C because of the [ridiculous] Buzz defaults or choices on behalf of B and C. Despite A's attempts to preserve their privacy, if B looks at C's public profile, B is alerted to the relationship between A and C.

This is not quite as bad as all the info being displayed to the world in one place, but still warrants concern in the same type of examples that are being brought up by so many people. If an (abusive husband / employer / nosy neighbor) suspects their (wife / employee / neighbor) is (seeking help / negotiating a job offer / whatever) from a particular person, it's still possible that Google will leak that sensitive information to the other party.

As far as I can tell, there is no way to set up Buzz so that no one is able to follow you. So even if you stop following everyone and block everyone that's currently following you (at the risk of seeming rude and offending acquaintances), new people could still decide to follow you. Of course, if you have Buzz "turned off," you have no way of knowing that it has even happened. And if you do have Buzz on, it will require constant attention to immediately reject anyone that tries.

There should definitely be a way to opt out of the Buzz system and database completely and permanently. It is not right that one has to reject and block followers individually if they want to opt out of the service. The root of the problem, of course, is that the service should be opt-in from the beginning, with Gmail users out of the system by default and able to fully remove themselves after opting in.

Personally, I'm considering moving my email away from Gmail as a result of this whole incident, and I've read Google's "Gmail > Buzz and Contacts" help forum [google.com] enough to know that I'm far from the only one.

Re:The real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31127334)

"private Gmail" -- a new oxymoron.

Tutorial about privacy before activating Buzz (2, Insightful)

cytoman (792326) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124906)

A brief tutorial about privacy settings and how to do it before letting one activate Buzz would have worked well to stifle such privacy outcries. When I looked into Buzz, all the privacy controls were right there - nothing would be shared if I didn't want it to, and only what I wanted would be shared with only who I wanted to share it with. Very good and tight controls.

But people are not generally patient enough to pay attention to such details when setting their google profiles and they are the ones who raise a big cry about privacy not being respected.

Re:Tutorial about privacy before activating Buzz (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124944)

except the biggest flaw is that you can't NOT activate buzz. that little "nah, take me to my inbox" link does all the buzz setup behind the scenes and activates your feed regardless. nor can you opt-out after the fact.

Re:Tutorial about privacy before activating Buzz (4, Insightful)

cytoman (792326) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124958)

Maybe I was not clear when I wrote it...I'm saying that there should have been an "activate Buzz" step. I know that there isn't.

You can opt out by choosing the "turn off Buzz" link at the bottom of your Gmail page.

Re:Tutorial about privacy before activating Buzz (5, Informative)

oh_bugger (906574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125002)

The "turn off Buzz" link doesn't actually clean everything up and make things private again. It's misleading. [cnet.com]

Re:Tutorial about privacy before activating Buzz (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125106)

A brief tutorial about privacy settings and how to do it before letting one activate Buzz would have worked well to stifle such privacy outcries.

And would have annoyed users that don't like to be treated like infants.

Re:Tutorial about privacy before activating Buzz (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125320)

And would have annoyed users that don't like to be treated like infants.

Those people should have the maturity to DEAL WITH IT.

People don't read. (2, Insightful)

MBoffin (259181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124966)

I guess this whole privacy snafu wasn't a big deal to me because I actually read their instructions.

No, the information about which settings do what weren't in 72pt type, but it's not like they were unintelligible or not there, or not presented to the user right away. But since I actually read the instructions they gave and read the dialog boxes that came up, I didn't lose any privacy I didn't want to lose (or hadn't already given up through other channels).

People just don't read. Ask any program designer. You know why so many programs have terrible help menus and help files? Because writing them is a thankless job. A fraction of a percent will actually look at the information you give them about how your program works and how to make it do what you want. If they do somehow get around to looking at the information you provide, they don't read it; they skim it for keywords and then barely read enough to try something else.

So, yes, Google could have made it more clear what was happening when you set up Buzz, but it's not like they yanked your pants down when you weren't looking.

Re:People don't read. (2, Interesting)

MoeDumb (1108389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124972)

Best option for privacy is don't use Google.

Re:People don't read. (1)

Cheech Wizard (698728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126070)

Best option for privacy is don't use the internet, a cell phone or copper line phone, a credit card(s), don't own property, do live in a cabin deep in a forest with no electricity, telephone or other communications device, and no road to it. And - Live alone.

Google apologizers are really making me sick (0, Redundant)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126406)

Stop exaggerating it, Google is the company who has no respect to user privacy and run by some CEO having childish comments like "if you got something to hide".

I don't use a so called free mail to analyze my personal mails to show me ads, I don't post my location to web, I don't use a search engine which defaults to "on" for search history. I still use the Internet, Web. I just have brain to choose a set of services which suits to my needs without selling off my personal life.

What is the difference between a Google fan and a person thinks "Internet" is MS IE just because it appears on Start Menu that way?

Re:People don't read. (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124978)

Read the "fuck you google" blog post. If you said *no* to buzz, it could get set up in a harmful way, which you couldn't configure or change because you had it disabled.

Re:People don't read. (2, Insightful)

MBoffin (259181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125018)

Read the "fuck you google" blog post. If you said *no* to buzz, it could get set up in a harmful way, which you couldn't configure or change because you had it disabled.

It still comes down to reading instructions. Even if it means reading instructions in other programs too. I meant it when I said "or hadn't already given up through other channels". Buzz doesn't magically make visible anything that you didn't already have visible. If you had your Reader shared items set to private, they stay that way, but if you had them set to public, well, they're public.

Re:People don't read. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125042)

You're right. Everyone should read instructions for *every* program there is.

MBoffin, can you walk me through setting up an email account in Eudora 3? I can't seem to find my documentation, but I figure since you read it, you should have no problem helping.

Don't be ridiculous. This isn't something they opted-in for. "Oh Hai, I voluntold you that you'll be using this program, here's how you disable it, but wait! Don't disable it yet, first you have to read the instructions!"... right.

Google screwed up. It happens. Hopefully they'll continue to improve the user experience for people who *dont* want to use buzz in addition to those who do.

Re:People don't read. (1)

MBoffin (259181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125084)

Nope, I'm saying if they care, they should read the instructions. I'm not saying I read all instructions everywhere, and I'm not saying every program/site provides them, but if it's something I care about (like who will see what items and information) then I look for the instructions and read them. I did it for Facebook and I do it for Google stuff.

You care enough about your privacy to have posted anonymously. If you ignored the "Post Anonymously" checkbox and I all of a sudden could see your username, you can't exactly get all pissed at Cmdr Taco for that. The lady who wrote the "fuck Google" post thought all her Reader shared items were going to all her followers. If she had her Reader set to private, they didn't go to her followers, except for those people in her followers who were already allowed to see her Reader shared items. But if she had her Reader shared items set to public, well, they're public. Anyone could already read them and they weren't private.

Re:People don't read. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125056)

Actually no.. this person just misunderstood what she was seeing, and then when she went to rectify the "problem" discovered that she couldn't.. rather than think that maybe she was just wrong in her initial assumption, and try to actually understand how the system works, she lashed out the way bloggers do - with uninformed, barely intelligible dribble.

Re:People don't read. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125066)

Reading instructions has nothing to do with it. As it stands, your information is leaked even if you block follows/followed from being posted, make your profile private, and disable buzz. A gmail user who does this still shows up in the follows/followed lists of the people they contact and who contact them most. Not an issue ... Unless your an attorney, a psychotherapist, the ex-spouse of an abusive husband, etc ... It's a problem when information was leaked before you enabled buzz and is still leaked after you do everything in your power to disable the service. I am a fan of what google is attempting, but the approach has serious flaws with serious implications. Please explain to me how reading the f-ing manual resolves this issue.

Re:People don't read. (3, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125160)

Ok, no worries, let me explain it to you.

First of all, find one of these people who you think is following you and click on their profile. For example:

http://www.google.com/profiles/william.pomerantz#buzz [google.com]

Now click on the link that says "William is following 67" or whatever, and look for you name. If you don't see your name, then there's no problem.. but if you do and you don't want that, here's how to fix it:

1. Go to YOUR profile. It will most likely be like Will's, in that it is your name after /profiles/ .. and it would only be like this if you *gave* Buzz you name and clicked the box that says "Display my full name so I can be found in search", and if you said you wanted a nice custom url, otherwise it'll just be some arbitrary number.
2. Uncheck the box that says "Display my full name so I can be found in search"..
3. Remove your full name from the boxes if you want.

Now you can go back to the page of the person who is following you... and select "William is following 67" again, and you will discover that you are now listed in the "other people who do not have public profiles" section.

If you want you can also do:

4. click the link that says "Block" after "[Whoever] is following you".

But you don't need to, because your name is no longer public.... of course, I have no idea how you would have gotten a public profile without asking for one... it took me about 3 attempts to figure out how to get one..

Re:People don't read. (2, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125928)

I never got a page instructing me on anything.

Is it something to do with using Gmail Notifier to log in?

I clicked, my mail popped up, and there was this dang coloured round thing on the left, and when I clicked on it it told me I was following a bunch of people and some other crap. I just finished unfollowing and deleting. I don't need all that spam. I'm not even interested in any of the people it auto-followed...

Business model? (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126422)

I am afraid the entire business model of them are based on the fact that people doesn't read. It is just like spyware (oh sorry, potentially unwanted software!) company who relies on a huge EULA which people will just click "I agree" before it is rendered on screen.

Their bread and butter is petabytes of personal information, if they really harvest it for their lame/uncontrolled ads, it is the good scenario. If they have another plan, it is even worse.

The entire income of mainstream media and some popular blogs relies on Google/Doubleclick duopoly. If there is something really wrong going on, you won't be able to hear about it anyway...

NO MORE!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124990)

Please,

We do not want! I already don't update my Twitter and Facebook feeds nearly enough. What the hell were you thinking Google? Did you think that Buzz would be widely adopted? No, it will FAIL. Badly, just like your stupid chat product has failed. I do not need yet another even listing in Tweetdeck. Please, kill Buzz. Murder it and throw it into a black hole.

Cheers

Re:NO MORE!! (1, Interesting)

oh_bugger (906574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125016)

Did you think that Buzz would be widely adopted? No, it will FAIL. That's why they let it do its thing by default, nomatter whether the user wants it or not.

Re:NO MORE!! (3, Interesting)

eparker05 (1738842) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125444)

I think it's a little early to draw conclusions on this. People were fairly skeptical about Android when it was new, and now look at it.

I'm not rooting for it overtly, but I'd like to see more integration in our products. Face book's messaging system is so redundant. Perhaps it's time that we have email duplicate social rather than social duplicate email.

When you can stare down China... (1, Redundant)

seebs (15766) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125000)

You have to be at least a tiny bit careful about how you use your power. How is it that Spider-Man figured this out in his first comic, and Google's not figured it out after several years?

"Don't be evil" is more complicated than just not being actively malicious. [seebs.net]

Re:When you can stare down China... (2, Interesting)

rarel (697734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125812)

I disagree. "Being evil" does denote intent in my opinion. They're just being irresponsible and careless with their power, which is just as reprehensible if not more, because they don't realize it.

Re:When you can stare down China... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127726)

You have to be at least a tiny bit careful about how you use your power. How is it that Spider-Man figured this out in his first comic, and Google's not figured it out after several years?

Because Google doesn't have an Uncle Ben? Google's a little closer to MPD like Norman and Harry.

Initially Dismissed Buzz but.. (1)

Skythe (921438) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125072)

It has caught my interest after browsing to it on my phone. The "Local" feature is something quite interesting, bringing up a list of posts in my suburb, although i was a bit concerned after it posted my full address following a post i made. I'd prefer it to just say my suburb!

The problem with Google (3, Interesting)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125086)

It's that they just don't get Privacy. Yes, we love Google search, GMail and that Beta stuff they do. But they just don't get privacy. To quote Google Executive Eric Schmidt: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

The trouble is, as the very first post described, we all do things in everyday life we don't want the world to know. Things we're perfectly entitled to do. But Google don't get it. I haven't used Google Docs because I'm scared there's some setting somewhere I won't know to turn off which will expose my documents to the world. Same concerns with GMail. Yahoo might hand your details over to the Chinese Government, but at least you don't need to worry about them telling *everyone* you've ever e-mailed! If a company ever did that, of course it would be Google.

Google is the sort of company that would break into your house and stick a webcam in your toilet "So you can socialize with your friends when you're sitting on the can." And they would be shocked when the people who find out about it object to it. The public is still largely ignorant about privacy, but with incidents like this slowly they will wake up. Google really needs to hire some serious Privacy experts to counterbalance people like Schmidt who can only see the dollars and not the bigger picture. Right now the best way for an upstart to beat Google is to offer everything they do but with the Privacy settings on max.

Re:The problem with Google (2, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125184)

The trouble is, as the very first post described, we all do things in everyday life we don't want the world to know.

That's not the problem.

The problem is that some people think that doing these things via media that are expressly public and searchable is somehow "private", and get really riled up whenever someone makes it more convenient for the people who are intentionally posting things via such media to connect it with the people who would be interested (and, conversely, to find the publicly posted things they themselves are interested in.)

Re:The problem with Google (2, Insightful)

Eighty7 (1130057) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125538)

Just because it's public doesn't mean it's ok to broadcast it. This blog [rosania.org] gives a good example: If you're having an argument with your mate in public, you'd stop very fast if tv cameras show up. Privacy is really about intent & control than about the public/private distinction, which only approximates intent.

Re:The problem with Google (2, Interesting)

Eighty7 (1130057) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125646)

more:

Privacy isn't a technological binary that you turn off and on. Privacy is about having control of a situation. It's about controlling what information flows where and adjusting measures of trust when things flow in unexpected ways. It's about creating certainty so that we can act appropriately. People still care about privacy because they care about control. Sure, many teens repeatedly tell me "public by default, private when necessary" but this doesn't suggest that privacy is declining; it suggests that publicity has value and, more importantly, that folks are very conscious about when something is private and want it to remain so. When the default is private, you have to think about making something public. When the default is public, you become very aware of privacy. And thus, I would suspect, people are more conscious of privacy now than ever. Because not everyone wants to share everything to everyone else all the time.

http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2010/01/16/facebooks_move.html [zephoria.org]

Admit it, this is exemplary customer service. (5, Insightful)

mano.m (1587187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125112)

They released a product. They got feedback from the people who use it. They acted swiftly and concretely, fixing the product by listening to the feedback and making the user experience more relevant and comfortable. I for one wouldn't mind more companies doing the same, and not just in software.

Re:Admit it, this is exemplary customer service. (3, Informative)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125738)

They got feedback from the people who use it.

They also got feedback from the people who didn't want to use it, but weren't given the option to properly opt-out, if I'm reading some of the comments/links correctly...

Re:Admit it, this is exemplary customer service. (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126552)

Opting out is effortless. Scroll to the bottom of your gmail page. Turn Buzz off. You can also turn off chat. The links are there. Not hidden unless you consider "bottom of the page" hidden.

Re:Admit it, this is exemplary customer service. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31127268)

Funny. I guess these people use another google as everyone else. For me it was strictly opt-in to begin with.

Opt-in? really? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127350)

I *thought* that welcome page meant it was opt-in too. And told it to take me straight to my email. Buzz still showed up in my list of filters.

Re:Admit it, this is exemplary customer service. (1)

azenpunk (1080949) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126184)

Yeah, I'll give you the prompt customer service point. I think the thing to watch with Google from now on will be whether or not they will adopt a more responsible position regarding user privacy from the very first release of a new product or service or if they will continually test the waters each time, waiting for a lapse of public diligence. Right now many people distrust Google as they would distrust a carelessly immature individual, starting now (or possibly a while ago) it will take a concerted effort on Google's part simply to maintain that perception. If with each new service from here on out they continue to neglect the privacy of users I think the perception will shift to one of deliberate passive aggression, and rightfully so.

Re:Admit it, this is exemplary customer service. (4, Informative)

nawitus (1621237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126232)

No, they forced a product to people who never wanted it. Then they made it *by default* to leak out private details. Then they made the "turn off buzz" option not really working.

Re:Admit it, this is exemplary customer service. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127766)

No, they forced a product to people who never wanted it. Then they made it *by default* to leak out private details. Then they made the "turn off buzz" option not really working.

You know, that sounds a lot like the IE upgrades.

Re:Admit it, this is exemplary customer service. (3, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126392)

Imagine if I was a friend of yours and I walked into your home, saw a priceless antique, and figured I'd move it into another room without consulting you or ensuring that it would arrive safely. Along the way, it breaks because I didn't take proper precautions. I then rush to superglue it back together while you ask me what just happened. I may be taking the appropriate action after the fact, but the initial action was wrong and cannot be undone because something was fundamentally lost in the process.

They betrayed a trust that millions of people had in them by divulging private information that they were privy to. Shame on them, I say, and this is coming from someone who is normally a Google lover and early adopter of their technologies. This whole thing just left a sour taste in my mouth. There is no defense for what they did.

DID they fix the problem? (2, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127326)

Here's the problems, so far as I can tell from the back-and-forth:

1. Google Buzz is opt-out.
2. Google Buzz treats gmail contacts as "friends".
3. Google Buzz exposes "friends" in your profile. This is also opt-out.

This means that people who have never interacted with Buzz at all *already* have had their privacy exposed. And people who *have* interacted with buzz may not know about the problem.

How do you fix this? Well, you can't "unsee" things on the Internet, so they can't undo any compromises that have happened as a result of this exposure, but they could block everyone's friends lists and make everyone opt in again. Have they done that? I still see Buzz showing up in my list of filters, and the option to display friends is still opt-out. Making it more obvious IF YOU GO LOOKING FOR IT doesn't change the fact that it's on by default.

Google is orthogonal to privacy (4, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125426)

Google, the company that bought Double Click. Privacy is against their business model. Nuf sed.

Re:Google is orthogonal to privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125718)

That was the day I realized the "don't be evil" time is over. Now their motto is more like "don't seem evil".

Re:Google is orthogonal to privacy (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125804)

Orthogonal? As in Google's interests being equally fulfilled regardless of the privacy situation? Orthogonal is 90', you're looking for "diametrically opposite".

opt-out paradigm (4, Interesting)

underwhelm (53409) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125504)

First, I'm amazed that Google would stumble out of the blocks like this. Isn't this the same company that keeps things in "beta" and "labs" for years and years? Had this "feature" been available for the general public to play with for a month or three before bringing out the "big guns"--opt-out implementation for all gmail users--these shortcomings would have been caught and remedied before they were inflicted on unsuspecting non-power-users.

Second, I can certainly appreciate the difficulty of creating the spark of life in a new social network platform. Ordinary players in the market have to hope that lightning strikes. As Google already has learned with Orkut, if lightning doesn't strike, maybe your product can find a niche somewhere in the long tail. Or it will never come to life at all. With Buzz, Google decided they didn't want to risk a sunny day, and chose instead to play with the high voltage line. Insta-social network by compelling everyone to connect with their personal email addresses. Deservedly, they're now getting burned--Gmail was many people's default "real" personal email site. Compelling a connection between people's real personal email address to a social network (on an opt-out basis) might shake people free of that preference...

Re:opt-out paradigm (3, Interesting)

HigH5 (1242290) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126066)

It seems that Google is in some kind of a hurry and tries to catch-up with Twitter and Facebook using Gmail (quite aggressively) as a leverage. It seems that they didn't ponder a lot about social consequences of their move.

Google 'Stumble' With Buzz??? Are You Delusional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31127164)

Every major blogger or online media person has made the jump to Google's Buzz and some of them are already reporting to have more followers in just a few days they they had built up on Twitter and Facebook for months or years.

Hell the biggest complaint about Buzz is it has become so huge so quickly Google is scrambling to add tools to filter the massive flood of content being shared and generated the huge number of people leaving Twitter and Facebook for Buzz.

So yeah dipshit keep spouting your delusional crap.

Re:opt-out paradigm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31127448)

That's the first thing that came to mind. I can't get into Voice or Wave, but I have to opt-out of Buzz?

Guess what I did when GMail offered it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125606)

I selected the 'go away, I just want my email' link (whatever it was called on that page). Later I found the option to disable this new toy so it stopped showing up in my already crowded list of filters. That was about it. Nobody ever bothered to tell me what the hell this tool was supposed to do and why I might want it. Yes, it is possible that I missed out on a great opportunity.

What the hell is Buzz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125668)

I logged into check my email, and it offered me buzz!

Why would I want something like that? I want control about what I send - that's why I use email.

Did they just do this because Wave failed, and are trying to leverage their gmail users to use their crap?

Google adopts new "Do, however, be stupid" policy (3, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125672)

In the wake of massive Buzz privacy problems, Google has announced that its slogan "Don't Be Evil" will be extended for the 2010s with "But Do Be Stupid." [newstechnica.com]

"I don't see how people could ever have thought it wasn't perfect," said Google marketing marketer Todd Jackson. "We tested it in-house for ages, and our test group of white male engineers all working inside a single corporation thought it was the best thing ever! So of course we didn't see the need for any user testing or opt-in."

Gmail users have been up in arms at their frequent email contacts and private addresses that forward to Gmail being publicly revealed, their precise GPS location being automatically posted with updates from their mobile phone and that switching off Buzz doesn't actually switch it off.

"We have heard of the case of the woman whose violent stalker could track her through the Buzz function she didn't actually switch on," said Bishop. "But should she actually be killed, we will of course apologise for her poor product experience. Though it's obvious it's her own fault for not having first found the function hidden behind three panels to untick 'KEEP MY STALKER UPDATED ON MY EVERY MOVE.' Some people just shouldn't be let near computers."

Jackson emphasised the non-evil nature of Google. "We are most definitely not evil. But if, y'know, evil just sorta happens, well. We just send the rockets up. It's not our job to think about where they land."

Another SNAFU that they haven't fixed yet (4, Interesting)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125696)

At least it hadn't been fixed when i tested it a couple hours ago. If you go to the profile settings there is an option called "Display my full name so I can be found in search." If you uncheck that box and save it your profile will now say "visible to the public as [whatever your nickname is]." YOu'll also get a warning about how your profile won't be searchable as long as that option is disabled, which is exactly what one would expect from the description.

However if you then try to do something with Buzz ("Like" a post or leave a comment) a browser-internal dialog will pop up asking "How do you want to appear to others?" It's a pretty small dialog with the only thing you can really select being if you want who you follow to be public or not, so clearly this is part of their solution to the complaints about privacy. However if you select "save profile and continue" you will then find that the "Display my full name" checkbox has been turned back on, without any notification at all! And of course if you uncheck it again, the next time you try to do anything with Buzz you'll have to go through the dialog again. There is an "edit" button on the dialog which opens up more options, but even under there there's no option to leave the "display full name" option unchecked. (Although it was hard to determine that since the dialog that pops up is taller than my browser window, so i had to maximize the window just to be able to see it all.)

Note that you are never told "you must make your full name public in order to use Buzz" and the option itself says nothing about Buzz, just that your profile won't be searchable. It's not clear if that's the behaviour Google wanted (which would be stupid) and they're just not telling us about it (which would also be stupid) or if they just screwed up the dialog and settings in their rush to address the privacy concerns.

So how do I turn this thing completely off? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125704)

There's a link on the bottom of my Gmail-page: "Turn off Buzz" ... but I don't trust them. How do I turn this thing completely off?

Google looks Reeeeally Desperate... (1)

viraltus (1102365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125724)

to get a piece of the cake. There were two girls, one fat with a beautiful _face_ and one simple with beautiful _tweeting_ voice, now it seems Google wanted the perfect mixture of beautiful face and tweeting voice but instead is getting the simple fat one.

Interesting really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125974)

Every single Google issue, software, service comes with some serious, easily to abuse privacy leak.

They should have talked with Nokia (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126034)

Nokia which is generally ignored by American public/tech community is testing such "inventions" for years in a real beta form. This far, and let me remind you, Nokia doesn't really make anyone paranoid as Google, nothing they tried has taken off although they have very clever touches for privacy and human emotions.

For example, their IM app (beta, real beta!) has ability to show generic names for your position only to your friends. Even that thing (like @cafe) bothered people. http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/news/item/7637_Nokia_Chat-IM_with_location_fe.php [allaboutsymbian.com]

I have installed Google Maps V4 for Symbian S60V3 having "buzz", all the feedback I checked was people who got seriously alerted about their privacy after they posted "buzz" for testing. People having facebook accounts, tweets everything they do got alerted. Not really tin foil heads like Google CEO suggested.

Uh...a little help? (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126344)

So, I looked at that blog post where they specify three points about changes they've made, but I'm stuck at #1. It says that you either need to set that preference when first creating a profile, or else from the Edit Profile page if you've already created a profile (I created a profile a year or two back, so I guess I have to do the latter). Only problem is, I can't find that checkbox anywhere. Can someone clue me in?

Re:Uh...a little help? (1)

smallshot (1202439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127370)

Use this url:
http://www.google.com/profiles/me/editprofile?edit=t#about [google.com]
The preference is a checkbox on the right side. It says "Display the list of people I'm following and people following me."

It took me a while to figure out how to get to that page. And if you started using buzz with the public option, you may want to have a look at the bottom of the page where you can use a long string of numbers for your user ID instead of your email address- mine defaulted to my email address when I allowed my profile to be public.

Weak Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126710)

You can't just "tweak" something and get solid privacy. If it only takes a "tweak" to make Buzz private, then it's really not private at all.

What about POP and IMAP users? (3, Interesting)

cenc (1310167) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126894)

I wonder how many people that do not use the web interface, but have gmail accounts, will not even know they are exposed.

Going back to using only my own email servers because who knows what stupid thing they are going to dump on the web next.

I Feel So Rejected! (-1, Troll)

IonOtter (629215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127036)

I'm so upset I could just slit my wrists!

I don't put any critical details on my Google Profile, and Google hates me for it! They HATE me! Why do they hate me so much?!? I'm not ugly or fat? Well, maybe fat...

But yeah, I don't have my bio or any other crucial details, so Google says they don't want my profile to be public! I tried making it public, but they wanted more details and won't let it go up on their list. I email LOTS of people! But when Buzz came along, it just, like, TOTALLY IGNORED ME!!

Oh, sure, it activated itself and everything, but because my profile wasn't public-hate you SO MUCH Google-I got no followers! WHYYYYY?!? I WANT people to follow meeee!

I see how they are. I see! "Do no evil", huh? I'll show you! Just because I don't post all of my life history on your stupid website doesn't mean you can't control MY SOCIAL LIFE!

JERKS!

Automatic opt-in (1)

savvyart (1697328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127116)

One of the worst things about Buzz is, even if you opt not to get started with Buzz, you are still drafted in, and all your contacts with Gmail addresses are your followers. The user is specifically opting not to try the feature, but it is still activated with broad privacy implications. And, there are no clear guidelines on how to make sure your contacts are private again, after turning off buzz from the gmail footer. I guess, its time for me to switch over to some other email provider.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...