Will Google ever be able to make up for the privacy problems that came along with the Buzz launch? Who knows, but they sure are going to try. For instance, now when you login to Gmail, click the Buzz tab and you’ll see a screen asking you to confirm your privacy settings before you continue.
Making Triple Sure
As a user, you’ll be asked to review and confirm the people you’re following, the people following you, whether or not these connections display on your public profile, and which sites or services you’ve connected to Buzz (e.g. Twitter, Gtalk updates, etc.)
These options have been available for roughly two months now, but Google's doing the right thing by making extra sure the Buzz audience actually knows about them.
“…many of you started using Google Buzz before we made these changes, and we want to help you ensure that Buzz is set up the way you want,” wrote Google Buzz product manager, Todd Jackson, on the official Gmail blog. “Offering everyone who uses our products transparency and control is very important to us…”
Paying Attention...Or Not
We saw Facebook attempt to alert its audience of privacy changes (though they weren't demanded like Google's) using a popup, but most users ignored the small notice in order to get to their profiles. This lead to an onslaught of complaints, as bypassing the popup meant that a heap of personal information was available to all users and even search engines by default.
Facebook didn't seem too concerned, claiming 35% of their users adjusted their settings to their liking. Chalk it up to what you want--user negligence or not enough effort on the network's part--issues like these are still a big problem.
As social media expert Danah Boyd pointed out at SXSW, when she asked a group of Facebook users to tell her what they thought their settings were configured to keep private, not a single one of them was correct.
Then again, while not many have left Facebook over privacy concerns, plenty of Gmail users didn't think twice about turning Buzz off altogether. Perhaps Google's earnest efforts will win back some of the folks that were initially excited about the feature.