Google Buzz Privacy Issue

11 Feb/10

Google Buzz has been announced publicly just a few days ago. It basically allows Gmail users to use social networking features that are similar to those offered on Twitter. Gmail users can follow others, write status notifications, post images or videos and read messages that are posted by their contacts.

And the way those contact information are handled by default is a privacy issue. Google will automatically suggest and add Gmail contacts to the followed list, that is users whose status updates are displayed in the Google Buzz section.

Those contacts are displayed on the public profile page for other contacts to see.  Every contact can see the names and photo of every other contact by default. The problem here is that these information are taken from Gmail which means that it is possible that users are included in that list that should not appear there.

Think of a journalist who does not realize that a confidential source has made it to the list of followed people, a superior who finds out that one of the employees is chatting with a friend who works at a competing company or a wife that her husband is still in contact with his ex.

The impact is somewhat limited by the fact that only contacts can see the followers and those that are followed. Users who prefer to not show their followers and followed on the public profile page should consider changing the options.

Use the following link to edit your Google Profile. You will be asked to log in if you are not already logged in. Now look for the checkbox “Display the list of people I’m following and people following me” on that page and remove the checkmark in that box.

Doing so will remove the followers and followed people from the profile so that no one will be able to look at those contacts.  Another option would be to check the followed list and remove anyone in that list that should not be visible to other contacts. This is however only working for users that are followed by the account holder and it does mean that no updates from that user are displayed in the account holder’s Google Buzz update listing.

Continua a leggere – Original Link: Google Buzz Privacy Issue

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