What went wrong with Google Buzz and why it’s not over yet for Google

John Lai I am happy to introduce you to a new contributor. His name is John Lai, and you might have never heard about him. However, my gutt feeling says that this will change. John lives and studies in New Zealand (last year and of course in marketing) and launched a group blog and community in NZ about social media marketing. John and his contributors follow what is going on in social media land.

So do I. At least, I try. However, the days that I followed everything are over for me. I have been following John for a while and we called a few times over Skype. What I like about John is that, despite his young age, he has opinions, is a no-nonsense guy and has the guts to launch projects and think for himself (and he knows what blogging is and what guest posts are). So, here is the new generation that is completely into and on social media! Read John’s first post, regarding all that went wrong regarding Google Buzz and what is going wrong right now.

When Google Buzz launched, it received mixed reactions, both positive and negative. However, the negative reactions had more impact because they involved privacy.

Here’s a quick summary of what Google Buzz is and the drama surrounding it:

Google Buzz is a tool that is integrated into Gmail. The feature allows users to post updates, videos, photos and links, very similar to Facebook’s News Feed and Twitter’s status update. 

This is where everything went wrong for Google Buzz. When using Google Buzz for the first time, “followers” were pre-selected based on those Gmail users frequently email or chat with (done automatically without their approval). 

Those people, in turn, could automatically see all the other followers, as well as photos and information shared via other Google services like Reader and Picasa. So warning flags were raised quickly from concerned people saying this could possibly aid stalkers, hint at affairs, personal information being leaked, etc.

Google Buzz was fast to respond to the concerns and started working on the problem immediately. Google also apologized for its mistakes on its blog.

However, even with Google’s quick response to fix Buzz’s problems, it was too late, especially for Eva Hibnick from Florida. 

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a local class action complaint was filed in San Jose federal court on behalf of her, claiming Google Buzz broke several electronic communication laws by sharing personal data without user consent, with the plaintiff also seeking both monetary relief, and injunctions to prevent Google from taking similar actions in the future.

Google has declined to comment on the issue. However, a company spokesperson said:

“We haven’t yet been served, so we can’t comment on the suit until we’ve had a chance to review it” 

Many reports shared a similar view that I have as well: when Google launched Buzz it should have given Gmail users an option of saying yay or nay to the Google Buzz service, so basically users should have had the possibility to opt in into the service, not opt out.

John Lai is co-founder of @SociaMedia_NZ. He’s born Malaysian, living in New Zealand, an anti 9-5’er, tech geek, chocolate addict, sports nut and unconventional entrepreneur. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Friendfeed and of course on his blog/community.

Bookmark and Share

Join me on Twitter

Join me on Digg

Subscribe to the newsletter

Join me in the Social Marketing Forum