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Google Buzz: A load of BS and your personal privacy too

posted Nov 6, 2010, 2:50 PM by Lianna Capozzola   [ updated Nov 6, 2010, 2:56 PM ]

In February of 2010, Google announced they were entering the social media space with their new feature Google Buzz.  As Bradley Horowitz, Google’s vice president for product management, put it Google is  “focused on the human penchant for sharing experiences and the social media phenomenon of wanting to share it in real time.”(see mashable link)

Like many other social media options, Buzz allows users to automatically follow other users as well as share real time thoughts and experiences though text, video, pictures, web links, etc.  What could be wrong about this internet Giant taking a step in to the fastest growing form of media, marketing, and social communication?

Last week Google announced they reached a settlement of $8.5 million in the class action lawsuit claiming the new Buzz product violated user privacy by exposing some user contacts and personal data. (Washington Post)

How did they announce? Over G-mail of course! However, many who received the e-mail, including myself, were not calmed by the news of settlement nor reassured that privacy precautions were in place to protect users. In fact, neither the e-mail, nor the official information site, gave any information about how to protect one’s self, their contacts, and personal data.

What will this money be used for? To pay lawyer’s fee’s of course!  (those in the JD/MBA program had the right idea) Oh yes, and whatever is left over will go to an “internet privacy education fund” . . . .  Bang up job so far!

How do we define privacy in a world of social media? What precautions/institutions must be in place to ensure the public truly understands the implications of the products and services they use? How do 'opt in' or 'opt out' options fit into this? Which is more ethical?