There is a huge privacy flaw in Google’s new Twitter/Facebook competitor, Google Buzz.
When you first go into Google Buzz, it automatically sets you up with followers and people to follow.
A Google spokesperson tells us these people are chosen based on whom the users emails and chats with most using Gmail.
The problem is that — by default — the people you follow and the people that follow you are made public to anyone who looks at your profile.
In other words, before you change any settings in Google Buzz, someone could go into your profile and see the people you email and chat with most.
A Google spokesperson asked us to phrase this claim differently. Like this: “In other words, after you create your profile in Buzz, if you don’t edit any of the default settings, someone could visit your profile and see the people you email and chat with most (provided you didn’t edit this list during profile creation).”
(Freaking out already?)
This was rectified soon after with an update to Buzz..
- Starting this week, Google will stop auto-following the people you regularly email and chat with, but will instead suggest that you follow these people when you first start using Buzz. You’ll be shown a bunch of faces and checkboxes to make sure you’re really interested in following these people. This is a good change, and will give you a chance to make sure that you don’t follow anyone you don’t want to be associated with. But it would be even better if the faces were NOT checked by default, to make sure people who shoot through dialog boxes without reading them — probably much of the general public — are better protected.
- It will also roll this box out to existing users to make sure they’re interested in following all the people they’re already following.
- Buzz “will no longer connect your public Picasa Web Albums and Google Reader shared items automatically.”
- Google is adding a new “Buzz” tab to your Gmail settings so you can disable it or hide it from Gmail.
Now another aspect of Google Buzz I’ve been thinking about is the extremely long URLs that gets assigned to each Buzz. (Thanks Aslam for the tip) Take this Buzz by Christopher Mills for example: http://www.google.com/buzz/chrismills123/cqh1SiJDvKe/Bought-a-Weber-braai-was-a-mission-most-places
Why couldn’t they just use Goo.gl URL shortner and assign each buzz a short URL with their own URL shortening service? Now if i want to share a Buzz with anyone on any other social networking service I’d have to whip out bit.ly, is,gd or mzan.si before I could share anything. Personally I’m finding interactions on Buzz to have more ‘weight’ than Twitter at the moment.
PS: You can add this to buzz with one click at the end of every post here at Web AddiCT(s); all you need to do is click the Buzz this button situated below the tweetmeme and muti (does anyone still use muti?) buttons.