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 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
that Buzz surfaced the e-mail and chat contacts Buzz users follow,
or who follow them, on Buzz users' Google profile pages.
Google has taken several steps to ameliorate the ensuing
privacy backlash, making
privacy controls more visible
and making the service auto-suggest
instead of auto-follow.
Still, the brouhaha reached its zenith when the Electronic
Privacy Information Center
a complaint about Buzz with the Federal Trade Commission Feb. 16.
eWEEK asked Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product
management at Google and the executive who presided over the creation of Buzz, whether
Google created Buzz with blinders on, failing to vet it properly with the
Horowitz denied this, but admitted to eWEEK Feb. 16 that Google did
not anticipate the outrage and ire leveled at the company regarding the privacy
issues. Horowitz acknowledged users were "unhappy," which led Google
to work around the clock
to address concerns.
"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.
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.