Buzzing Hornets Nest

My Googlemail account is basically my Internet-facing email, so I'm not too concerned about my own privacy, but if I was, for example, a therapist using my account to email my patients, a journalist emailing whistle-blowers, or just an ordinary person who emails both nice people you know in person and crazy internet trolls - then I would be pretty angry at Google right now.

The thing is, when I see people complaining about this, I also see those usual knee-jerk commenters who don't bother to actually read the posts and regurgitate the same bogus information. At the moment you need to remember this:

  • If you selected 'Nah, just take me to my inbox' when you were first notified about Buzz, you still have Buzz.
  • If you click 'Turn off Buzz' at the bottom of your gmail page, you still have Buzz, you've just hidden it from yourself.
  • If you have a public Google profile, you should probably take a look at it and make sure you aren't broadcasting any email contacts ('followers') you don't want to.

Of course, I say at the moment, because, after their initial, predictable "No, you do like it!" response, Google have promised to change things... over the next few days.

For those of us who've been using Blogger and other Google services, this reluctance and then slow reaction are pretty much what we expect, but it shows up Google's hubris that they seem to think they can still do this here. An hour is an age in Facebook-time. People go crazy if they can't access Twitter for fifteen minutes. If Google want to break into this market, they need to realise that a service built on small, frequent communications needs a response time of minutes (although the users would prefer seconds).

But probably the most surprising thing of all is that this happened in the first place. Obviously, Google wanted to give birth to its social network whole-formed from its Gmail contact lists, which isn't all that surprising given that their business model is basically making money from our information (see also: the targeted ads you get in your Gmail inbox). But if they had just peeked out of their own little world for a moment or two, they would have seen that nothing is kicking up Internet shitstorms lately as much as privacy concerns over social networking.

It's like Google just walked into an airport and started joking loudly about exploding underpants. Where have they been all this time?


Zhoen said...

Just read up on this on wiki, and I'm appalled. Google R Spammers.

george said...

Yeah, this was pretty annoying. Fortunately I don't have a Google profile to speak of, though I still have this niggling worry that I haven't turned off something, somewhere. It really shouldn't have to be like that, should it.

Coincidentally I stopped using web gmail a few days ago. :D

Michelle said...

Exactly. You would think of all companies they would have a clue...