| By Scott Mace |
In their headlong drive to steal some of Facebook’s thunder, Microsoft and Google incorporate some highly questionable social-networking features into their popular e-mail services.
Google’s Buzz comes under the most fire, with many privacy experts and Internet users deeply concerned that it plays fast and loose with personal privacy. There are some important facts all Gmail users should know.
Buzz stumbles badly out of the gate
If you’ve followed with trepidation Windows Secrets’ May 20 Facebook and April 22 Hotmail Top Stories on social networking and personal privacy, you’re probably like me: reluctant to try out Google Buzz — a sort of social-networking add-on for Gmail, Google’s immensely popular e-mail service.
Google Buzz debuted Feb. 9, 2010. Like its competition (Facebook and Windows Live), it’s all about sharing stuff online with your friends, family, and other acquaintances — life events, photos, videos, and more. And it’s all connected to Gmail.
As the Buzz site says, your comments about your life and others’ lives appear “right in your inbox so it’s easy to keep the conversation going.”
But not everyone is happy about that level of conversation. During the initial release of Buzz, Google had allegedly made the private e-mail contacts of Gmail subscribers publicly available without their consent. Gmail users filed a class-action lawsuit. Google made privacy changes soon after the problems came to light, but for the plaintiffs, the damage was already done.