I have not written about privacy (or lack there of as social sites would have us believe) that much lately, and I had been thinking about simply updating my previous post(s) on this topic, BUT there have been a rash of articles bouncing around the blogosphere so hey. Here is another one…
If you are online at all (and you are if you are reading this ;0) you have probably heard the "buzz" about Google Buzz… and if you haven't you probably are not using gmail so you shouldn't be concerned right? Wrong! Because if you have been corresponding in ANY WAY with someone who is a gmail user well, your information may be doing a little more "Buzzing" that is was two weeks ago when Google began it's foray into the social networking space. (and that could be anyone one of 30 million gmail users… BTW)
So, what is the skinny?
Well, Google recently launched Google Buzz and attached it to its popular gmail service. Their rational for launching this way was:
"If you think about it, there's always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most."
While this is true, as it turns out, Buzz was a bit more of a busy little bee than Google had realized… When originally launched, there was no way to opt out of the service (Note: this has been corrected) additionally, because Google failed to realize that you may be in contact with folks who you … well … may not want to be contacting each other… (I'll leave that up to your imagination.) Additionally, because "Buzz integrates tightly with your existing Gmail inbox," it also trolled through your reader, blogger comments, general email recipients that may NOT be a true contact of yours… Beginning to get the idea?
Google's Buzz Product Manager Todd Jackson said in a BBC interview:
"We're very early in this space. This was one of our first big attempts. We've been testing Buzz internally at Google for a while. Of course, getting feedback from 20,000 Googlers isn't quite the same as letting Gmail users play with Buzz in the wild. If it becomes clear that people don't think we've done enough, we'll make more changes."
Basically, oops sorry… but the ripples are just beginning to be felt by users and non-users alike.
Here are a few links to some of the recent stories:
Buzz gets inevitable FCC complaint – Gizmodo
Google admits testing sucked… – Gizmodo
Security Bug Opens Google Buzz to Hackers – Macworld (My favorite so far)
After outcry, Google revamps Buzz… – Macworld
Critics say, Google Invades Privacy… – New York Times
Do a little search on "Google Buzz" and see what you find…
This issue is NOT NEW and it is NOT only Google Buzz that is invading YOUR privacy. Facebook (and Facebook users are trading social relationships for privacy as well…
“Changes to the privacy settings that Facebook implemented and represented to increase User privacy had the outright opposite effect of resulting in the public dissemination of personal information that was originally private.”
There has been a class action lawsuit related to this issue as well. Facebook's CEO Eric Zuckerberg really doesn't get it or doesn't care. He has been quotes saying:
“In the last five or six years, blogging has taken off in a huge way. People have really gotten comfortable sharing more information and different kinds but more openly and with more people” Zuckerberg
and that Facebook is simply responding to new "social norms" that have been created or "adjusted" because people now "share" more and more openly on the internet…
So, think about it… Odds are that you are one of (or are connected to one of) the 110 MILLION people who actively check in on Facebook daily, or the 30 MILLION gmail users… So, is your privacy trite? Do you care? Do you think that there is nothing you have "out there"? Here is one person doesn't. and neither do I…
[Image Credit: image from Alan Cleaver http://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/4105726930/%5D