It’s become a familiar pattern. A popular Web company rolls out a new application that tailors features to individuals’ information, and the offering becomes shrouded in privacy concerns. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Enter Google’s Buzz. Critics have leaped on the service for the default sharing settings that would make people’s favorite Gmail contacts publicly available. eSecurity Planet has the details.
Shortly after Google unveiled its new social application known as “Buzz,” reactions across the Web shifted from curiosity at the latest effort to rival Facebook and Twitter in the social space to deep concerns over the privacy implications of the service.
Specifically, commentators have warned that the lists of contacts Buzz assembles for Gmail users based on whom they write or chat with most frequently are made publicly available by default.
That has invited widespread hand wringing as bloggers have imagined scenarios in which bosses can snoop on employees, jealous spouses on their partners and the general creepiness that attends the idea of publishing the contents of one’s inbox on the Web. Additionally, when users sign up for Buzz, Google does not explicitly state that the list of followers will be publicly available.
Google, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story, has maintained that users have the ability to edit the settings to limit the visibility about their contacts, and of course a person’s followers are only viewable to other Buzz users when set up through a public profile with the company.