Tech giant Google backtracks over concerns with Google Buzz privacy settings

A barrage of negative publicity has forced Google to modify its most recent product launch, Google Buzz.

'Improved': GoogleBuzz
'Improved': GoogleBuzz

The tech behemoth released the social media platform last week to a wave of negative coverage over default privacy-setting flaws, leaving Google backpedalling to make changes over the weekend.

Peter Barron, head of communications, UK, Ireland and Benelux, Google, admitted: ‘We didn't get everything right, and we're working hard to improve things based on feedback from users. We have already made a number of major changes, but it's still early and we have further improvements on the way.'

Barron added: ‘We look forward to hearing more suggestions and will continue to improve Buzz, with transparency and control the priority.'

Google Buzz collects a range of content from social networks within one platform and has the unique selling point of building the network directly from the user's Gmail contacts.

The privacy issues being questioned stem from the public being able to see Gmail contacts who have most frequently been emailed or chatted with on the site.

Mark Pack, associate director, digital, Mandate Communications, said: ‘What's odd is Google usually releases products with beta labelling, but the software doesn't change a great deal.

‘In this case, the mirror image occurred: Google released the product out of beta, but was forced to make many changes. This suggests it has misjudged how people would react.'

Social networking site Facebook also suffered a backlash in the media last December following a change to its default privacy settings without consulting the site's users.

Ged Carroll, director, digital strategies, Ruder Finn, said: ‘Google has a licence to innovate from consumers and the media. However, too many high-profile failures and that licence may be rescinded.'

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