Well, kudos to Google for at least trying. PCWorld.com reports the search giant has tweaked its Buzz social-networking service once again to address user privacy concerns. Instead of setting up users to automatically follow the people on their GMail contact lists with whom they communicate the most, the company has moved to what product manager Jeff Jackson calls auto-suggestion.
Instead of automatically adding those people to Buzz users' follow lists, Google now suggests those people for following, and gives the user the chance to select all of them, some of them or none of them before launching Buzz. The fix was the most logical way to back off the seeming affront to privacy, writer Harry McCracken points out. He suggested as much in an earlier post. Even still, he's not convinced it will be enough to calm everyone's fears.
The question that bugs me the most, though, is one my boss posed earlier Monday: Why would Google take the service live knowing it had issues that would raise users' hackles so much? The only answer I can find is that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg is right. Privacy is a myth. Or at least the Web 2.0 companies want it to be, so they assault it aggressively and then back off a little, hoping that little will be enough.
Venture Beat writer Subrahmanyam Kvj suggests the move is only the beginning. Kvj writes:
If the web is indeed making a transition to a social web, then Internet companies are going to spare no effort to ensure their strategies for monetizing the web are carried forward to the social web. And what better way to do that than to win yourself access to the fattest possible data pipe?...These norms are going to be tested so many times, that they might indeed be reset at some point soon.