Google tweaks Buzz to address privacy concerns

Just two days after Buzz rollout, Google tries to quell initial user angst

Just two days after launching its Buzz social networking tools, Google last night said it has tweaked the technology address early privacy concerns.

Google last night disclosed 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."

Google earlier this week threw its hat into the social networking ring when it announced new Gmail features designed to make the e-mail service more of a social networking hub. Google Buzz is the company's attempt to make the flood of social posts , pictures and video easier to weed through, and to make it easier to find important information.

Users had started expressing concerns about the complexity of the privacy setting almost immediately after Tuesday's launch of Buzz. Some users also took Google to task for allowing Buzz users to view the targets of their e-mail messages.

Jackson said Google moved to tweak Buzz quickly to answer such concerns.

In his blog post, Jackson showed how Google changed the tools so that users can opt out of publicly sharing the lists of people they follow, as well as people who are following them. "We are making this option more prominent in the set up process, to ensure everyone who wanted to hide these lists can do so easily," Jackson wrote.

Google also added more "Block" links to the lists of a user's followers. "Previously, you were only able to block people from following you after they had created a public profile," said Jackson. "Now, you can block anyone, regardless of whether or not they've already created profiles for themselves."

The company also made a tweak to the service that's designed to enable users to see who is on their public list of followers.

"We designed Buzz to make it easy to connect with others and have conversations about things that interest you, and it's great to see millions of you doing this already," wrote Jackson. "It's still early, and we have a long list of improvements on the way. We look forward to hearing more suggestions and will continue to improve the Buzz experience with user transparency and control top of mind."

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
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