After a week’s worth of complaints and confusion, Google is updating Buzz to address many of the privacy concerns and annoyances raised by the new social networking service. The update brings three major changes.
First, they’ve replaced the auto-follow feature with auto-suggestions, letting you choose who you follow individually rather than automatically following everyone Google thinks you’d want to. Second, Buzz will stop automatically connecting to public Picasa Web Albums and Reader shared items. You can still connect these things, but you’ve got more choice. Finally, they’ve added a Buzz tab to your Gmail settings to give you finer control over how Buzz integrates with Gmail. From there, you can easily change whether or not other users can see who you’re following via your Google Profile, turn off Buzz in Gmail, or turn off Buzz completely — something I suspect a lot of people will want to do. (The Buzz tab isn’t available yet, and they do say “we’re adding“, but hopefully it’ll be there soon.)
It’s been an exciting and challenging week for the Buzz team. We’ve been getting feedback via the Gmail help forums and emails from friends and family, and we’ve also been able to do something new: read the buzz about Buzz itself. We quickly realised that we didn’t get everything quite right. We’re very sorry for the concern we’ve caused and have been working hard ever since to improve things based on your feedback. We’ll continue to do so.
What do you think? Do these changes make Buzz a little more attractive, or are you already turned off by all the negative buzz about Buzz? Let’s hear it in the comments.
A new Buzz start-up experience based on your feedback [Official Gmail Blog]