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Google Buzz Privacy Payments

David Gilbert


Like most of us here at TrustedReviews, you may have received an email in your Gmail inbox this morning from none other than Google themselves. While we initially thought we were special, it transpires that Google emailed all Gmail users (that’s almost 200million people) to tell them they would not be receiving any of the £5.3m lawsuit settlement it was ordered to pay in court yesterday. Well, it was nice of them to let us know at least.

The message opened: “Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email,” and went on to tell users they had reached a settlement with a group of Google Buzz users who claimed the company breached their privacy rights.

Launched in February this year, the Twitter-like service automatically disclosed a list of people users emailed regularly to other people following them. This, as you can imagine, didn’t please everyone. With privacy settings on social media sites a hot topic at the moment, Google Buzz really didn’t have a leg to stand on.

The email went on to make it quite clear that individual Gmail users would not be receiving any money from the settlement. “Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation.” The message then said users had four options: opt into the settlement; opt out; go to court to object verbally or write to the court to object.

The £5.3m settlement will instead go to “an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web.” Google also stated in its email that the settlement acknowledged it changed the privacy settings on Google Buzz to address the concerns of users.

The initial issues surrounding privacy on the service have probably contributed to Buzz’s failure to make any sort of impact on Facebook or Twitter and unless something major happens in the near future we could see the service scraped altogether.


November 3, 2010, 5:44 pm

I don't bother with Buzz either, FB is more than enough. But I think it's at the point where FB is here to stay, it's too entrenched. It won't be overtaken like it did to MySpace. Google should accept this (as Microsoft have done with Live) and just integrate FB into Buzz. If I clicked on Buzz and saw my emails, buzz posts (ok there won't be any), FB and Twitter (for me again nothing as I don't use it) and any other services I wanted to add (rss feeds, etc) in one view I'd actually find Buzz useful and probably start posting there as well.

The future of the web is about integration, one login, one site to rule them all!

You can kind of do this now (I just searched)


but that's not fully integrated, just creates a new tab, and isn't built in like it should be.

Again it's where MS have gone with Windows Phone 7 and while Android is pretty intergrated it's not quite there and they need to get there on both their phone and on the web or they really will have to close Buzz.

David Gilbert

November 3, 2010, 6:18 pm

@HK I couldn't agree more. If I had the buzz tab on my Gmail account and when pressed it showed me my FB, Twitter and RSS feeds I probably won't open any other tabs in my browser. Google had failed not only with the way Buzz works but with the way they have marketed it and integrated outside elements into it.

Unfortunately I agree that FB is here to stay but I think it will evolve and that Twitter will continue to gain on it in the future and could eventually overtake it.

Then again, who knows?


November 3, 2010, 7:00 pm

Wow someone agrees with me, this is a first :) Thanks.

Not sure about Twitter overtaking it, but maybe that's because I've never used/got Twitter. I mean I see the value in following people/companies etc for news on things that are interesting. I've even searched for things on Twitter (well actually through Google 'Latest' not Twitter itself). But most people seem to have FB/Twitter integrated so post on both. So why will Twitter overtake FB? Genuine Q, not trolling - I just don't see what the point of Twitter (when you already have so much more on FB).


November 3, 2010, 7:15 pm

I am even more gutted - I didnt even get an email (I am a gmail user) telling me I wasnt getting any money. What a shambles and a disgrace you are Google...

David Gilbert

November 3, 2010, 8:10 pm

@HK I just see Twitter as a pared-down, easier to access, instant version of Facebook. I think it is more user friendly and doesn't have the huge amount of dross (farmville etc.) on it that Facebook does. I think it connects people better though I may be skewed in my view as it is such a vital tool for the media now.


November 3, 2010, 10:13 pm

Well I suppose that's what FB was to MySpace, pared down and simple. Twitter seems to be just taking it too far; although I can see your point about it being a valuable (if inane) media tool. It's like the Peek, that might have been (still is I guess) a great email device, but really most people want something that can do more.

I don't really find FB full of junk (I guess I disabled Farmville and other such notifications ages ago), I just see my friends status updates. Mind you for the most part I liked the ability to have control that came with MySpace, it was just the messy adverts and the fact that too many people abused it and made pages that were dreadful. I suppose it's like Windows vs Mac, full control vs. locked down. Cleanliness does so often seem to win out with people.

Anyway, I cannot comment on how Twitter connects people as I've never tried it. I thought you had to add people, didn't think you had connections like you do on Facebook. Also with tagging and all that in photos FB (to me) seems like a much better social tool. But i'll stop commenting on something i've not used...


November 4, 2010, 3:00 am

From what we've seen monitoring both Twitter and Facebook for our work, Twitter is used more for / by business, whereas Facebook is more personal. There's nothing wrong with either approach, however the audiences for both are really quite different, right up to the point where it is worth creating different tailored content for each.

I could care less about something like Buzz - if and when it becomes anywhere near relevant, there will be some software that allows it to be updated directly from Facebook or Twitter anyway.

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