On February 2, Google introduced their latest product Google Buzz. This added “social” feature, which is built right into Gmail, allows users to start conversations and share information (pictures, videos, links, etc.) with those they contact the most. Google Buzz is essentially designed to evolve Gmail into a social networking platform that simplifies the process of sharing both public and private information with those on your contact list (aka: your Gmail address book). You can follow anyone who has a Gmail account by searching for them by name or email address. You can instant message, as well as post your latest “buzz” in real time (without a character limit, may I add) and this is all done through your Gmail account. Voila! It’s email, Facebook and Twitter all rolled into one. Genius.
Yeah, not so much.
Over the past week, as Google continues to work out the kinks of its new interface, many feel as if they have fallen victim to an invasion of privacy. With all of the noise we keep hearing about protecting your “online image,” especially in this job market and economy, when a private conversation is accidentally publicized…well, you can put two and two together.
In a recent interview with CNBC regarding the privacy issues Google Buzz has created since its debut, Eric Schmidt the CEO of Google Inc. said,”If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines –including Google –do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.”
So, maybe Google Buzz will be what the next buzz-worthy addition to social media. Or, maybe Mr. Schmidt should prepare for his own little buzz-worthy bust.
Laura Ann Klinedinst