Google Plugging Privacy Holes in Google Buzz, Eyeing Stand-alone Version
Less than one day after Google improved the privacy controls in its Google Buzz social service, the company said it is plugging more privacy flaws and is mulling a version of the social service that is not integrated with Gmail.
The search engine launched Google Buzz Feb. 9, offering its 176 million Gmail users the opportunity to post status updates, inline videos, photos and other content.
While the service successfully mimics some of the functionality of Facebook and Twitter, it also upset users by exposing their Gmail contacts through their Google profiles, which the service uses as the glue to connect users.
Google Feb. 11 made privacy controls in the service more transparent. This included adding a checkbox in the profile setup so users acknowledge that Buzz will show the names of the contacts they are following and people following them on their Google profile.
Google told Business Insider it is working on two more controls with regard to Google Reader, which along with Twitter, Flickr and YouTube connects with Buzz. These came in response to an angry blogger who found her personal info was made accessible to an abusive ex-husband through the connection between Buzz and Google Reader.
First, people whom Buzz users block in the service still appear as following you in Google Reader. This is an issue for users trying to block people they don't want following them.
"This is a bug, and we're working to fix it. Provided that your shared items are protected, only the people you've explicitly allowed to see them can do so-regardless of who appears to be following you in Reader," Google told BI.
Google also said it is working to add the option of blocking people from following users in Google Reader. This will be added to the user interface.
In addition, Google is considering a version of Google Buzz that does not run in Gmail, according to Search Engine Land. Google Vice President of Product Management Bradley Horowitz told SEL's Danny Sullivan at the TED conference, "It's clear that interest in Buzz may extend beyond the current Gmail base, and we're open to serving that community."
However, Horowitz said Buzz will remain in Gmail as well: "We think that Buzz within Gmail is a great experience, and we'll keep offering that as well."
A separate Buzz social service would have a very hard time gaining traction versus Facebook, whose user base of 400 million people all over the world will be difficult to dislodge because many users store and share so much of their content there.