Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Google's Buzz: Sign of things to come?

Last week Google announced their first foray into the social networking battlefield. Termed Google Buzz, it immediately generated huge amounts of, for want of a better term, buzz. Of course, most of the initial buzz was about the horrid default privacy settings. I don't know if anyone actually lost their job or their marriage, but the way Buzz shared information definitely made such a result possible.

Google quickly responded to the hue and cry, but the real surprise wasn't that Google responded quickly and changed the default settings, it's that they made the mistakes in the first place. How could a savvy company like Google repeat the mistakes made by Facebook? And not only repeat, but expand on them. An article on Tech News World, "Google Buzzes Privacy Breach is a Sign of Things to Come" suggests that Google planned it that way. Not only that, but that opening services with wide open privacy settings, then pulling back only as much as public outcry demands will probably become the norm for social networking rollouts.

As much as I'd like to disagree with that, it rings true. Google, like Facebook, doesn't make money directly off it's users. It makes money off of their data and ad revenue. As new social sharing sites come along, they will probably use the same basic methods to make money. And they will probably use the same methods of getting as much data as possible from their users. Put it all out and when the users scream, step back only as far as absolutely necessary.

That's not acceptable. It should be standard practice to put out no information and give the user the option of putting out as much as he wants.