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Round One: Google Buzz Versus Facebook

The Internet war between Google and other technology giants such as Facebook shows no sign of cooling off. The launch of Buzz – Google’s own social-networking site on 9th February 2010 is seen by many as a direct confrontation between the World’s most popular search engine, Google, and Facebook, the World’s most popular social-networking site.

However, less than less than two weeks after its launch, Google Buzz hit a setback which caused as much furore as the launch of Google Street View did in America and Europe. Many users of Buzz complained that the service breached their right to privacy thus forcing Google to make a public apology. The fact of the matter remains that Buzz does not really offer any new services and like most social-networking sites, it allows users to share personal messages, photos and videos. Nonetheless Google chose to do a few things differently by taking advantage of the organisation’s email system (GMail) and automatically making all GMail users part of Buzz which means that all GMail users are also members of Google Buzz by default. Unfortunately, their strategy possessed a controversial loop hole in that the system stored data on whoever a user e-mailed and chatted to most often from his or her GMail account, and made those frequent contacts their “followers” on Buzz.

Rather than hit the ground running, Google Buzz has made a mess of its first attempt to challenge Facebook with these breach of privacy and their subsequent admission that Buzz “had not been tested adequately” before its release. It remains to be seen how far Google Buzz will go after this latest controversy. The firm now says that changes are being made to the system that will include a button which will make it possible for users to turn off this feature. Google also maintains that “nobody’s personal information was disclosed”.

Read How Google Buzz’s Privacy Settings Compare to Facebook’s.

Talking Point

Are you surprised that in-spite of its size and reputation, Google did not give adequate attention to an issue as fundamental as privacy in the design of Buzz and openly admitted that this system was not adequately tested? Will these development deter you from becoming a member of Google Buzz i.e. if you are not already a member?

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  5. CouponWebz

    February 20, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Hmm it’s still hard to tell for sure who’s gonna win the war. The issue about not being tested adequately is somewhat a troubling matter. The privacy of all their customers is at stake, after all. And all gmail users are automatically affected.

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  7. Marc Rasmussen

    August 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Evidently, there are still Gmail users that are not satisfied with the changes made. I think for anyone who does not want to use Buzz at the moment and are uncomfortable with some privacy concerns, I’d suggest disabling it for the mean time.

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