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19 February 2010 @ 08:28 am
Buzz: The good, the bad, and the rather unsettling  
The good: Google has decided they need to be a bit more sincere in their apologies, at least according to this BBC article. Unfortunately they don't seem to have the full interview available, but the quotes about how we were "rightfully upset" and Google is "very, very sorry" certainly sound good.

The bad: Google Employee "Bin" would like to Welcome us to Buzz. Since that original post Bin has been answering all kinds of questions on the "Buzz for Mobile" support forums. Including a question about why we need to make our full names public to post to Buzz. The bad news is that what has been troubling a lot of us was actually done by design. They want and require us to show our "full names." As someone pointed out though there's nothing currently stopping you from replacing your "full name" with a pseudonym of your choosing, at least not for now.

Likewise the Buzz Mobile app, which is integrated with the Google Maps app, is intended to only let you make public Buzz posts.

And the somewhat unsettling part? If you want to post on the Google support forums you need to have a Google account. When you post that post will be linked to your Google profile. So if someone wanted to ask a question or complain about Google Buzz after trying it out then their profile, including their full name, would be out there for everyone to see.

But at least that means that we can go take a look at Bin's profile as well. Turnabout is fair play and all, right? Funny, their profile says their first name is "Robin," but it doesn't give us a last name (and since their posts are showing up in the forums as "Bin" rather than "Robin" presumably they must not have the "show full name" option turned on either.) Likewise Christopher, another Google Employee who's been covering the Buzz for Mobile forums also has a profile with no last name. So do the people who are urging us to try Buzz and are trying to explain and justify Google's decisions about it not actually use Buzz themselves? Or do Google employees get exempted from the rules the rest of us have to follow? Or is this just an implied agreement that as long as the rules about profiles are so restrictive that it's perfectly okay to have multiple Google accounts so you can control what information others see about you?

I can think of a lot of different and very good reasons why Bin and Christopher might not want to be putting their full names up for everyone to see, but I think those same reasons apply to myself and everyone else just as much as they do to them.
Coraacoraa on February 19th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
The inability to post private Buzzes with the android phones is really bizarre.

And it's interesting that not only do those Google employees not have their full names displayed, but—even though the rest of us get 'reminded' to add more information to our profile pretty much every time we look at or edit our profile—they also have very little other info about themselves up.

I guess what's good for the goose is not good for the gander.
Steuardsteuard on February 19th, 2010 07:45 pm (UTC)
The last line of the BBC article you linked to is particularly striking to me on the "continuing non-apology" side of things:
Asked if the Google founders - Larry Page and Sergey Brin - or any of the executive team would issue an apology for breaching their user's trust, a Google spokesperson said: "Google has apologised - we're very sorry for the concern we caused."

Note the wording: they're still insisting on apologizing only for the "concern" that they caused. It appears that they aren't apologizing for the potential or actual harm that they caused. You could easily read this as Google continuing to insist that this was just a perception problem, and that nobody was really harmed at all. Given the size of their user base, I find that remarkably difficult to believe.
Coraacoraa on February 19th, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah—as someone who demonstrably had private contact list information publicized, it's hard for me not to notice that they keep framing it as 'people were concerned that their contact list information would be public' not 'peoples' contact list information was made public.' It feels like an attempt to spin doctor the problem from 'we screwed up' to 'you were hysterical and feared we screwed up.'