Google Buzz Is a Dirty Snitch

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When you join Google Buzz, it automatically provides you with followers and followees based on prior communication. These people are then listed on your Google profile, which can be seen by all your friends. So, affair havers: maybe hold off.

A lot of the Giz staff was alarmed by the suggested/automatic follower lists, not because they were automatic, but because it was hard to tell how exactly they were chosen. Obvious additions, like girlfriends or coworkers, seem to make the cut. Other entries were people that were rarely—and sometimes never—emailed from the associated account.

Anyway, point is, it's an odd concept, made odder by the fact that, as the Silicon Alley Insider noticed, other people can see you're following, including the auto-adds. To put this in real terms:

• A girl you slept with in college sends you a message on Gchat, to tell you she has five beautiful children now, and that she doesn't ever think about you, ever. Ok!
• You exchange some messages and a couple emails to be polite. You defuse the situation. You don't mention it to your current girlfriend, because that would be weird.
• Coincidentally, you enable Google Buzz, which adds both your current girlfriend and this lady who you politely deflected.
• Your girlfriend checks out your Google profile, sees your friends list, and asks you who that lady is.
• You clumsily try to explain, "Oh, it just adds people you talk to automatically," which only makes things worse.
• Fight!
• ...
• You break up, which was probably a good thing anyway, because your relationship sounded really unhealthy. But you get the point, right?


Since fixing this is as simple as toggling a privacy switch in your profile, it's less of a disastrous bug than it is an unfortunate default behavior, and despite their early insistence that this is a feature, not a flaw, Google will probably adjust accordingly. Still though, Buzz hasn't gotten off to the greatest start, has it? [Silicon Alley Insider]