We love trying out new stuff from Google, and excitedly signed up to their new Twitter/Facebook mash-up, Google Buzz.
To get you up and running fast, Buzz automatically sets you up with followers and people to follow, and these are chosen by who you email and chat with most using Gmail.
Get the hell off
Sounds good? It ain’t.
By default the people you follow and the people that follow you are made public to anyone who cares to look at your profile – thus telling the world who you’re regularly communicating with.
It sounds crazy, but it’s true: by default, your Google Buzz profile includes your name, photo, people you follow, and people who follow you.
So if you’ve been writing to another company looking for a job, Google Buzz will display that information to the whole world – and your current boss – and if you’re having a sneaky email affair there’s a chance that you’ll soon be caught with with your virtual trousers around your ankles.
Here’s Google’s statement on the matter:
We thought very carefully about how to create a great experience in Google Buzz with as minimal setup as possible. We designed our auto-following system to enable users to immediately see content from the people they email and chat with most, so when they start using Buzz, it “just works.” If users are automatically followed to anyone they’d rather not follow, it’s easy to remove these individuals during the auto-following step by clicking on the “edit” link and then clicking “unfollow” next to their names.
After that, the first time the user creates a post or comment, we ask them to create a profile, principally so they have a name to display next to their post. There’s more information on why you need a profile here: http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=17073. In this profile creation step, we inform users that the lists of people they follow and people following them will be displayed on their profile, and make it easy to view and edit these lists. We also make it possible to hide the lists of people they’re following and people following them from their profile.
Quitting Google Buzz
We can’t think of any reason why we’d want anyone to know who we email the most, so we got the hell out of Buzz, and here’s how to do it: go to your Gmail page, scroll right to the bottom and in tiny text at the bottom you’ll see a link saying: “turn off buzz.”
Click it. With relish.
UPDATE (12/02): Google has added swiftly to soothe the worried brows of its users and updated the privacy options: Google tries to win over fleeing Buzz users with security updates.