#BuzzOff: 10 reasons to turn Google Buzz off

26 thoughts on “#BuzzOff: 10 reasons to turn Google Buzz off”

  1. “By offering social communications, which have primarily been used for entertainment purposes, Buzz would bridge the gap between work and leisure.”

    Some of us don’t want that bridge. Some of us don’t want to be “exposed”. My work life is entirely different than my personal/social life. I have no reason to intertwine nor would I want my boss to know that I was hungover on Monday because I posted crazy pictures of a party I was at on my FB. Maybe I don’t want my parents to know even… Google needs to test their services on people outside of their nice offices and actually see what people on the street would do. I’m not talking about Geeks or Tech Gurus, real people who use GMAIL just for email.

    I sometimes believe Google is out touch of with reality.

    As for their excuses – they need to hire FIRST – a NEW quality control/compliance team, SECOND – better mouth pieces to speak on their behalf.

    In my career….If I built ANYTHING – that didn’t have an OPT OUT option labeled in BOLD, upper case, or done in some way to give attention to the user – there would many legal analysts after me…

    We need to be in an opt in culture.. and no more opt out….

    How many things do I have to opt out from, spam, newsletters, coupons, text messages, billing notifications, now I have to worry about searching for an option to get rid of google buzz.. which was no easy to find whatsoever…

    Why would they force this upon us? Answers dammit~

    That was my rant~ :)

    1. :) Well, now your professor knows…
      Another point I didn’t make in the post which your comment made me think of is that many of these techies do live in public for a large degree, and they do actually find no problem with Schmidt’s statement. There can be two obvious reasons for that:
      a) They are privileged mostly white, middle class men
      b) Their life is boring

      1. I take option B! :)


        C) Socially inept and need to find another way to avoid socializing with people in person! jk

  2. I wanted to comment on the same quote, Honieh. I literally laughed out loud when I read that one!

  3. Great post, Mushon!

    I also admire Google and use many of their products, but I wasn’t really singing their praises as I fiddled around with the disabling of this annoying Buzz product that I didn’t sign up for. Judging by the thoughtfulness in the user interfaces of Google’s other products, I doubt they couldn’t foresee this type of reaction from the launch of Buzz. It’s just disrespectful that they didn’t provide us with an “opt-in” option from the start, or at the very least, default settings to private.

    In the same CNBC interview you mentioned in your post, Marissa Mayer (Google’s VP of Search Products & User Experience) says “Most of these products, in fact, all of these projects, our philosophy is Transparency, Choice, and Control. Be very transparent about what data you have associated with that particular user, give the users very clear choices about whether or not to use the product at all, and then give them control over their data…” Where was my clear choice about Buzz, Google?

    At least we can always rely on The Onion for guaranteed comic relief.

    1. Good point Joan, in retrospect this was unfortunately a pretty insincere statement.

  4. My livelihood is on my computer. The information is confidential and protected by federal law. GOOGLE – can you say $250,000 fine and 10 years in the slammer for ambushing my contacts???? If I or my clients suffer ANY form of fallout from your greedy, ill-advised, STUPID move. you will be hearing from a federal attorney. And I will sue you personally for destroying my livelihood.

  5. Well, I am as skeptical or more than the next person about Google *anything*, however, I do think this Buzz buzz is being a little over-hyped. I am going to adopt an unpopular position here and admit that my experience was that there were actually several choices I was offered in agreeing to check out Buzz. First, I was offered the choice of whether I wanted it or “nah”.
    Then I was told that a number of people were “following me” which is admittedly a creepy way of phrasing it. I was offered the choice of whether to follow them back and whether to follow a selection of other frequent email contacts. That was my choice.
    I also had the opportunity to click on the person following me and block them immediately.
    So, I can’t agree that Google thrust anything upon anyone. Everyone who got buzz made a choice to opt in.

    HOWEVER I do think it was inane for them to make all of the privacy settings opt-out to begin with.
    One of the things I like about the service is the idea that I can choose not to post my full name in the search function for people I don’t email with to find me. That should have been the default setting.
    I also like that I can hide who is in my network. That also should have been the default setting.

    So, they made some definite mistakes, and should have put more information up front, but I don’t think we are all the hapless bystanders here. I don’t know how you could have ended up with Buzz if you didn’t want it. Furthermore, if you didn’t know what the service was, why would you sign up for it without looking it up first? I think Google’s documentation made it very clear it would draw on your Gmail contacts.

    A couple other points. I actually like the idea of having a small collection of some of my most frequent email contacts automatically grouped for me with an interface that makes it easy to have a conversation. I think this idea has potential, especially if Google refines it, making the privacy options and sub-grouping more thorough and intuitive as you know they will. I have been thinking a lot recently about how to engender more “conversation” online in a form that encourages a contemplative approach. Buzz isn’t it, but I like the conversation format.

    Lastly, I already have a Google account. They already know everything about me; how I use the internet, what my interests are, what I write and chat about. It isn’t really added risk for me to use one more of their services. The real question in my opinion is not whether we should turn off Buzz, but whether we should turn off Google, completely. But that is a subject for a different post;)

    1. Heather,
      thanks for your response, I do appreciate you representing the “unpopular” position. You said:

      I don’t know how you could have ended up with Buzz if you didn’t want it. Furthermore, if you didn’t know what the service was, why would you sign up for it without looking it up first?

      That’ is pretty much my point. I ended up with Buzz without asking for it. I did not sign up for it. I said “Nah” as I didn’t want it.
      Guess what? It was there anyway.
      Guess what? I was followed and was being followed by anyway.
      Guess what? Guess all of that was made public to the world without my consent.
      This post would have never been written if this service was an opt-in service to begin with. I could have been upset about Google advertising their new products while I’m trying to check my email, but not enough to spend so much time on this extensive rant.

      Re: Google already knows a lot about me
      Yes, they do. And until last week I thought they were accumulating a lot of personal information about me but still making sure to keep it safe and private in their highly secure server farms (their privacy policies in that sense were much better than any other cloud based online service). The fact they chose to broadcast it to the world is a breach of trust that they have never allowed themselves before. For years all of the Google/Privacy debate was speculative only. It was raising concerns that they have to much power, know too much and that we place too much trust in them. Yet it was never substantiated with actual cases of Google breaching their users privacy. All of that was true until the launch of Buzz.
      Re: choosing to not use Google. To entertain this thought my NYU students and I go on a week without Google every semester, check out the results of the one concluded just a few weeks ago.

      1. Wow, I didn’t realize the first part. I can definitely understand why that would be upsetting.
        Imagine how much worse it could have been if in addition to exposing your frequent Gmail contacts it exposed some pretty graphics detailing your patterns of internet searches, common terms you use, videos you watch… There is a lot of really terrifying potential in Google’s hands.
        I love the class assignment of a week without Google. Sadly, reading over a handful of the student’s posts the main thing that hits me is that we don’t have viable alternatives… The other companies out there offering similar products seem just as bad or worse. I am curious, in the lessons learned section of the class, following a week without Google, did anyone find viable alternate paths?

        1. Well, one viable alternative path for things as private as emails is not to use Gmail or any other webmail commercial service (and yes, it may be “free” but it’s still a literally commercial service). I use Gmail only for what I have to use it for. I think it’s a great piece of software, but if I ever needed an excuse to stick with Thunderbird, I just got it last week.

          Between the newly released Thunderbird 3 and the iPhone email client I am pretty content. While there’s huge room for improvement, the privacy makes it worth it.

          1. I tried that route for years and email was a never-ending headache for me. Gmail allowed me to streamline my whole email process, easily get all my emails in one place I could access from anywhere with a simple intuitive interface. I agree with you in theory, but in practice I can’t imagine going back to Apple Mail, Outlook or Thunderbird.
            But, I don’t think mail is Google’s biggest threat since they are still in third place (last I checked). The tech community always thinks everyone uses Gmail, but they really don’t.
            The biggest threat in my opinion is search. They have 65%+ market share in search. They define how we see the internet. And this is where I really don’t see any better alternatives right now. We need to make it ourselves!

          2. I definitely agree with you on this concern, but what do you mean “we need to make it ourselves!”? Make what? A search engine to compete with Google’s? That makes no sense to me. I think we as users should have agency within these services even if we don’t own them. That’s exactly why I think Google should get as much hard time as possible for the move it made, so it does not repeat itself (soon).

    1. Haha! This is awesome…

      “Recently we unveiled… Google Buzz… and were met with unexpected public backlash. Which is odd. Considering we’re Google. And we can Kill you.

      Embedding for video for the sake of the discussion:

  6. Thanks for this post Mushon!
    It’s been two days that I have been trying to opt out of Buzz! But I could never find a way to do it quickly so I kept on postponing.
    Again I really don’t like that the default is Your in whether you like it or not!
    Google deprives us from our privacy and spread our personnal information on our behalf!

    OPT OUT!

  7. Its still going on ey? the tempest in a teacup, what is stunning to me is that people are surprised, as this kind of action, knowing the companies we are dealing with, and the online competitive “buzz” (sealing users to walled gardens for the marketing tech turf wars)

    I agree with all points (minus some way of wording i suppose)
    with one major exception, If you maintain your mail, personal or business on Google, you have surrendered those rights, this is a price people pay for “free” (not as in freedom) when they allow the “cloud” this amount of access to their life’s.

    You will not find anything in Google Terms of service, or Its privacy policy texts that contradicts with those actions , and yeah, you signed that contract. abdicating a very large chunk of your data to the responsibility to a commercial provider that mines it and owns it.

    People say they don’t mind the advertising mining of your email, but they mind this. the difference on a technical level, and more important on a LEGAL level is very minor.

    Like an aware citizen AFAIK, you need to pay attention to the documents you sign and the entities you put your trust in.

    I hope this will serve as a way for people to smell the coffee so to speak, and find better deals for themselves, which are easily found, and will cost you less then most people beer budget for a week. Free isn’t free

  8. Put simply. your data will be in danger if you surrender it to providers whose sole intent in having it is to use your data as collateral ammunition in the social silo wars or the advertising clickthru impression wars.

    So to your point 1: as i mentioned before. you didn’t ask for it, but yes… you did agree to it in principal.

    ““If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” I dont know about this one, what i do know, is if i have something i dont want them to know… i wont do it through providers like google, yahoo, msn etc etc…

    People who think their data is important, should treat it with more caution and likewise choose the provider more carefully. and most likely pay for it. if you can afford to have internet access you can afford better mail serving deals.

    1. Doron,
      While I agree with you on not expecting corporation to have your interests at their highest priority, I don’t see it as a black & white thing. I think we should make sure it is unprofitable for these corporations to screw us over as we cannot really use the internet without basic trust. Google works hard to gain our trust so it can “spend” it on ventures like Buzz. We should make sure to maintain the currency of our trust. But I am afraid we are not doing a very good job of that.

  9. here’s a nice one about opt-out opt-in from a behavioral economist (see @ 5:30)

    1. Hi Yair,
      we would love to see it but I think you forgot to include the link

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