Barely two months after its launch, Google has rejiggered Buzz.
The platform, which marries social networking and collaborative working–or rather, sets the two ideas on a collision course–was originally set up to automatically add friends to its users’ pages without their say-so. This attracted a lot of complaints, since it essentially showed your contacts to the world even if you didn’t want that to be the case. Take, for example, the case of Andrew McLaughlin, Deputy Chief Technology Office for the White House. When McLaughlin’s Buzz profile went public, it showed the entire world all of the Google lobbyists and lawyers he’s in contact with.
Now Google has bowed to people’s wishes and, instead of foisting your contacts upon you, now “suggests” people for you to follow. In addition, your Buzz status is highlighted and it’s easier to change than previously.
Google should be extremely mindful of what happened to Beacon, which was eventually killed off after public outcry forced Mark Zuckerberg and his team to rethink, patch and then, ultimately, discard the service. In its place is now an opt-in system that allows users to vote on advertisements, rather than sneakily passing on their data to advertisers.
Unlike the Facebook Beacon debacle, this wasn’t a malicious attempt by the firm to garner even more information from its users. Think of it, instead, as a classic example of how Google code heads and real people don’t always want the same thing.