Google Buzz Privacy Backlash Not Anticipated, Google Says
Google Vice President of Product Management Bradley Horowitz said Google did not expect the negative backlash that befell Google Buzz when it launched Feb. 9. Horowitz acknowledged users were "unhappy," which led Google to work around the clock to address concerns. He said Google is still weighing user feedback, but declined to say what sort of additional changes his team might make to meet user requests. However, more granular privacy controls, such as filters and other features to let users turn off Buzz, are likely in the works. One of those changes could be to create a standalone Buzz product in addition to the current Gmail-based Buzz.The Google executive overseeing Google Buzz, the product that triggered perhaps the biggest privacy backlash ever against the search engine, said Google did not anticipate the strong protest over user privacy the company faced in the week since Buzz launched. Google launched Google Buzz Feb. 9 to let users post status updates, links, photos and videos within the application that leverages Gmail users' e-mail and chat contacts as a ready-made social network.
Within the first 24 hours of using the product, several users discovered that Buzz surfaced the e-mail and chat contacts Buzz users follow, or who follow them, on Buzz users' Google profile pages.
"While the outcome was not something I would have wished for or predicted, the remedies and response of the team has really indicated to me that we have a great core competency at Google in terms of being able to develop social software, to be in dialogue with our users and to rapidly iterate and improve the product," Horowitz said.It's true the privacy furor surrounding Buzz forced Google to quickly make some changes to improve user privacy. However, Google Buzz Product Manager Todd Jackson told BBC News that while Google tested Buzz with its 20,000-plus employees, it failed to run Buzz through the Trusted Tester program, a network of friends and family of Google employees who are given access to products before they launch.