A couple weeks ago Google released their new social networking platform Buzz. Buzz initially required no set up, and at the time was connected with the a users Gmail account. The first step was to create a circle of friends using your most recently emailed contacts... and to opt out of this, and several other elements you had to individually turn each one off. It was like Google thought,"Let's just throw everyone out there and see what happens."
There's something concerning about Google playing with address book contacts. Google already has numerous features that a user has access to once you create a Gmail account. But the vast majority just want the inbox and the outbox and the good ol' stuff, what we're getting now is a whole new world. There's been a quite an uproar over the platform, which provides very open social messaging features. Buzz allows users to upload full resolution photos and inline videos, as well as connect easily to Picasa, Flickr, and Twitter.
Last Wednesday laws firms in San Francisco and Washington D.C. filed a class action lawsuit against Google on behalf of a 24 year-old Harvard Law School student Eva Hibnick. Besides probably several million dollars they're also asking Google make a commitment to not do this again during future product launches. I think Google definitely crossed the line. There's a line between personal and social and I'm so surprised and almost hurt they forgot that.
While Google has apologized and added an opt-out feature there's a bleak cloud hovering over Buzz right now. What's going to happen with the fledgling service? Do we need to create more regulated ways of controlling our privacy? The World Wide Web is an ever changing legal field and privacy has always been an issue. Google knows they did something wrong, but look how much information they have about each individual user... Someone has to protect that information if they're going to forget to.