February 9 — Google Buzz launches.
February 10 — In a post titled “WARNING: Google Buzz Has A Major Privacy Flaw,” We complain that before you change any settings in Google Buzz, someone could go into your profile and see the people you email and chat with most. Our complaint is that Google forces users to opt-out, rather than opt-in, to exposing this private information publicly.February 11 — Google updates Buzz to make it easier to opt-out of publicly displaying lists of followers.
February 12 — We suggest this change doesn’t go far enough.
February 12 — A woman complains that Google automatically set her up to be followed by her abusive ex-husband.
February 13 — Google goes all the way, replacing an opt-out feature, auto-following, with an opt-in feature, auto-suggesting.
February 16 — Google promises more changes, including a more prominent “mute” option. Says a Google spokesperson, “Some people feel like there is too much noise in the inbox and this is something we are working on better controls for.”
A former Google employee even started a virtual Buzz complaint box.
But what really cracks me up about this whole thing — all the excitement and creeping-out, hemming and (ye)hawing — is that Yahoo started rolling out an automated social wire and status updates on the What’s New page of its mail client months ago (like, August of 09), and no one even noticed. They even posted the latest on the Mail blog on February 5, four days before Buzz exploded:
It’s less invasive than Google’s, as far as I’m concerned (I have email addresses with both), but still pretty, well, fucking stupid. Good thing for Yahoo nobody cares enough to give them a hard time.