Buzz Off, Google!
It’s hard to understand Google’s hysteria when it comes to social media. True, Twitter gives Google a good fight when it comes to real-time search, and people spend more time on Facebook than on any other site. So what do they do on Google? They try to fight back. And it looks ludicrous.
Gmail is one of the net’s most useful services. It’s the best webmail around and it has tons of useful features. My Gmail tab on Firefox is always open. In fact, by far, it’s the site I spend most of my time on. And I am not the only one.
Some of us don’t want many distractions to interrupt our work. I mean, web games, Twitter and porn are distracting enough. But Google doesn’t seem to care. First was the annoying, blipping Google Talk, which you can only disconnect from, but not disable entirely, and now there’s Google Buzz.
Without asking for it, I got the Buzz icon in the left sidebar of my Gmail. The icon looks familiar… Wait a minute… Is that a Microsoft service? Ah, no. Just another Google annoyance. So, I click on the Buzz in order to disable it, and I am horified to see that I already have followers. Worst of all – these aren’t my friends. They are not even my online friends. They are a random bunch of people I once mailed or contacted, mostly in business-related matters. I sure don’t want THEM to follow me anywhere. I also don’t want to follow them, but it appears I am doing just that.
Where’s the Block?!
It seems that Google Buzz is a Twitter/Facebook wannabe – it encourages you to share thoughts, clips and links. Only here, for some reason, you can’t choose your friends that easily. For example, if you access the list of your followers, you only get an option to follow them back. You can’t block them or prevent them from following you. At least, not that easily. In order to block a person on Google Buzz, you need to click on their icon and block them from there. I hope you don’t have too many followers at this point.
Where’s the Privacy?
If you are concerned about your privacy, Google Buzz is definitely not for you. The message that appears on the Buzz’s main page is: “Your Google Reader shared items, Picasa Web public albums, and Google Chat status messages will automatically appear as posts in Buzz”. This is the default, unless you change it.
Also, activity on the sites listed on your Google Webmaster account will also be made public, unless you prevent Google Buzz from spreading around your every move.
Best Feature of Google Buzz?
Clearly, Google Buzz is a noise-making, privacy-damaging, redundant service. If you have Twitter, Facebook or both, you really don’t need the Buzz. I don’t even want to THINK what this does to the well-known Gmail-Firefox memory leak.
The best feature on Google Buzz is clearly the option to disable it entirely. This option hides as a little, tiny link on the bottom of your Gmail screen.
Google, do us all a favor. Stick to worthwhile services, like Gmail, RSS Readers and, um, that little thing called “Search Engine”. When I want a bunch of strangers to follow me around, I’ll open a Twitter account and announce that I am Ashton Kutcher.