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The Sciences

Buzz has been "Facebooked"

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanFebruary 13, 2010 3:46 PM

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Critics Say Google Invades Privacy With New Service:

When Google introduced Buzz -- its answer to Facebook and Twitter -- it hoped to get the service off to a fast start. New users of Buzz, which was added to Gmail on Tuesday, found themselves with a ready-made network of friends automatically selected by the company based on the people that each user communicated with most frequently through Google's e-mail and chat services. But what Google viewed as an obvious shortcut stirred up a beehive of angry critics. Many users bristled at what they considered an invasion of privacy, and they faulted the company for failing to ask permission before sharing a person's Buzz contacts with a broad audience. For the last three days, Google has faced a firestorm of criticism on blogs and Web sites, and it has already been forced to alter some features of the service.

The reference to Facebook is that when Facebook does something a bit shady in regards to privacy there is often an explosion of indignation which results in Facebook having to walk-back features (e.g., the default visibility of friend lists). That being said, Facebook is huge, and still expanding. So I don't see this as necessarily anything more than a speed-bump for Google Buzz. But personally I'm really not so sure that I want one company to manage my "social graph," provide productivity tools (Google Docs), and so on. I don't need a "too big to fail" software service at this point in my life.

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