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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Google Buzz
Google Buzz logo
Developer(s) Google
Initial release February 9, 2010; 37 day(s) ago (2010-02-09)

Google Buzz is a social networking and messaging tool from Google, designed to integrate into the company's web-based email program, Gmail.[1][2] Users can share links, photos, videos, status messages and comments organized in "conversations" and visible in the user's inbox.[3]

Buzz enables users to choose to share publicly with the world or privately to a group of friends each time they post.[4] Picasa, Flickr, Google Reader, YouTube, Blogger, FriendFeed, and Twitter are currently integrated. The creation of Buzz was seen by industry analysts as an attempt by Google to compete with social networking websites like Facebook and microblogging services like Twitter.[1] Buzz also includes several interface and interaction elements from other Google products (e.g. Google Reader) such as the ability to "like" a post.

Google executive Sergey Brin said that by offering social communications, Buzz would help bridge the gap between work and leisure,[5] but the service and its rollout have been strongly criticized for taking insufficient account of privacy concerns.


Mobile versions

When the service is accessed with a supported mobile device, Buzz tags posts with the user's current location. Users are only permitted to use the actual physical location reported by the device for their Buzz posts; unlike the Google Latitude location-sharing service, Buzz does not allow users to manually specify an arbitrary location.

The mobile version of Buzz integrates with Google Maps so users can see who is around them. Buzz posts made through Google Maps are public, and can be seen by anybody else using the software. In addition to text, mobile users' posts may include an uploaded photo. Current platforms supported are limited to devices running Android 2.0+, iPhone/iPod Touch, Windows Mobile, Openwave, and S60.[3]


Google Buzz was announced on February 9, 2010, in a press conference at the company's Mountain View headquarters and launched on the same day, at 11 am PT for the first set of users.[6] The feature, available from the Gmail inbox, was rolled out to Gmail accounts in the following weeks. A mobile version of the site optimized for Android phones and Apple's iPhone was also launched,[3] while a version for businesses and schools that use Google Apps is planned.[7] Within 56 hours of its release, 9 million posts were made on Google Buzz — approximately 160,000 posts and comments per hour.[citation needed]


Some of Google Buzz's features have been noted to have privacy concerns similar to those of Facebook.[8][9] One feature in particular has been widely criticized as a severe privacy flaw: by default Google Buzz publicly discloses (on the user's Google profile) a list of the names of Gmail contacts that the user has most frequently emailed or chatted with. Users who fail to disable this feature (or don't realize that they have to) may have sensitive information about themselves and their contacts revealed.[10][11][12][13]

Google Profiles existed before Buzz and could be set by the user to be indexed or not. After Buzz was released, the last name field was required to be nonempty, and profiles set not to be indexed became indexed for a profile search.[citation needed]

A recent New York Times article stated that "Google is known for releasing new products before they are fully ready and then improving them over time."[14] Google has twice tried to address privacy concerns: first by making the option to disable public sharing of contact lists more prominent[15] and later by changing one of Buzz's features from "auto-follow" to "auto-suggest".[16] This allows users to choose whom they follow, and, therefore, who is revealed on their public list of contacts; the list is still public by default. These changes to the way that Google Buzz operates have, however, been criticized as inadequate[17] and the company has been criticized for failing to take its users' privacy concerns seriously.[18] Among other problems, users who have never created a Google profile have no way to make their list of contacts or other information private, which resulted in a high-profile case involving information about a woman's current workplace and partner being shared with her abusive ex-husband.[19]

Concerns have also been raised that because the mobile version of Google Buzz by default publishes the user's exact location when they post a message to the service, users may unintentionally reveal sensitive locations.[20]

On February 16, a student at Harvard Law School filed a class action lawsuit against Google, alleging that Buzz violated several federal laws meant to protect privacy.[21] On the same day, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Google Buzz "violated user expectations, diminished user privacy, contradicted Google's privacy policy, and may have violated federal wiretap laws."[22]

Also on February 16 the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote "These problems arose because Google attempted to overcome its market disadvantage in competing with Twitter and Facebook by making a secondary use of your information. Google leveraged information gathered in a popular service (Gmail) with a new service (Buzz), and set a default to sharing your email contacts to maximize uptake of the service. In the process, the privacy of Google users was overlooked and ultimately compromised."[23][24]

On February 17, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, issued a statement on Buzz:

We have seen a storm of protest and outrage over alleged privacy violations and my office also has questions about how Google Buzz has met the requirements of privacy law in Canada...My office has a variety of resources available to help companies build privacy into their products and services. When companies consult with us at the development stage, they can avoid the problems we've seen in recent days.[25]


Both the general and technical press has been critical of Buzz and the manner in which it was rolled out. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation described Buzz's arrival as having "ignited a hailstorm of criticism". CBC indicated "One user blogged about how Buzz automatically added her abusive ex-boyfriend as a follower and exposed her communications with a current partner to him. Other bloggers commented that repressive governments in countries such as China or Iran could use Buzz to expose dissidents".[26]

PCWorld's JR Raphael criticized Buzz for both its intrusive nature and privacy concerns, citing above all that it merely adds "more noise into an already buzzing area of my life". Raphael provided users with a step by step tutorial on how to disable Buzz.[27]

Ryan Paul of Ars Technica noted "there isn't much in Buzz that is new or original" and "the end result is a service that shows promise but lacks the requisite killer feature or innovative twist that it will need in order to truly keep people engaged."[28]

See also

  • Criticism of Google
  • Facebook – A social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc.
  • Twitter – A social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets.
  • Orkut – A social networking site operated by Google since 2004, with over 100 million active members, largely in Brazil and India.
  • Yahoo! Buzz – Yahoo's community-based news article website.


  1. ^ a b Guynn, Jessica (2010-02-09). "Google aims to rival Facebook with new social feature called "Buzz"". LA Times. Retrieved 9 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Edwards, Andru (2010-02-09). "Google Buzz announced". Gearlive. Retrieved 9 February 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Herrman, John (2010-02-09). "Live From Google's February Event: Google Gets Twittery". Gizmodo. Retrieved 9 February 2010. 
  4. ^ Blog announcement,
  5. ^ Helft, Miguel (2010-02-09). "With Buzz, Google Plunges Into Social Networking". NY Times. Retrieved 11 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "Google Goes Social with Google Buzz". Mashable. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  7. ^ "Google Buzz in Gmail". Google. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  8. ^ Brian Prince (2010-02-10). "Google Buzz Privacy Concerns Similar to Facebook Issues". eWeek. 
  9. ^ Molly Wood (2010-02-10). "Google Buzz: Privacy nightmare". CNET. 
  10. ^ Robert McMillan (2010-02-10). "Google Buzz Criticized for Disclosing Gmail Contacts". IDG News Service. 
  11. ^ Nicholas Carlson (2010-02-10). "WARNING: Google Buzz Has A Huge Privacy Flaw". The Business Insider. 
  12. ^ Kelly Fiveash (2010-02-11). "Google Buzz leaves privacy concerns ringing in ears". The Register. 
  13. ^ David Neal (2010-02-12). "Google Buzz is criticized for lack of privacy". The Inquirer. 
  14. ^ Miguel Helft (2010-02-12). "Critics Say Google Invades Privacy With New Service". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ Todd Jackson, Product Manager, Gmail and Google Buzz (2010-02-11). "Millions of Buzz users, and improvements based on your feedback". Google. 
  16. ^ Todd Jackson, Product Manager, Gmail and Google Buzz (2010-02-13). "A new Buzz start-up experience based on your feedback". Google. 
  17. ^ Nicholas Carlson (2010-02-12). "Google Buzz Still Has Major Privacy Flaw". The Business Insider. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Charles Arthur (2010-02-12). "Google Buzz's open approach leads to stalking threat". The Guardian. 
  20. ^ Larry Magid (2010-02-09). "Google Buzz Raises Privacy and Safety Concerns". Huffington Post. 
  21. ^ "Harvard Law student brings class action lawsuit over Google Buzz". The Harvard Law Record. 2010-02-18. 
  22. ^ Cecilia Kang (2010-02-17). "Privacy advocates file FTC complaint on Google Buzz". Washington Post. 
  23. ^ Paul, Ryan (February 2010). "EPIC fail: Google faces FTC complaint over Buzz privacy". Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  24. ^ Opsahl, Kurt (February 2010). "Google Buzz Privacy Update". Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  25. ^ Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (February 2010). "Privacy commissioner rebukes Google for Buzz". Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  26. ^ Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (February 2010). "Privacy commissioner reviewing Google Buzz". Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  27. ^ Raphael, JR (February 2010). "Goodbye to Google Buzz". Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  28. ^ Paul, Ryan (February 2010). "First look at Buzz: much potential, not much innovation yet". Retrieved 2010-02-20. 

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