Google has been out to take over the world wide web for some time now. Ever since they created their stellar search engine, they have stealthily acquired many of the largest names in the Social Web. Blogger. YouTube. Picasa. Now, since it seems that the Internet giant could not buy out either MySpace, Facebook or Twitter, Google has decided to created its own social network: Google Buzz.
Google Buzz is like a Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook all rolled into one application that can be easily accessed through your Gmail account. Buzz connects to various sites, including YouTube, Twitter, and Google Reader, and shares your interactions with these web applications with your followers. Whenever you tweet, Buzz will tweet. If you upload a new video to YouTube, Buzz will announce it. You can also announce your status to your followers, just like you would on Facebook.
It all sounds grand, in a way. How nice is it to be able to look at one simple interaction for all your social web updates? Unfortunately, it is not that simple and Google has had a lot of grief over privacy issues since the launch due to the fact that the service was automatically turned on for all users, and it’s only now that Gmail users can turn the service off. Due to this overeager oversight, they now face one class action lawsuit filed in the United States and Canada is currently investigating the product for privacy law violations. In another story, a young women vehemently explained in her blog (which has been taken down for privacy purposes) that her abusive ex-husband was able to track her down due to Google Buzz publicly linking her Google Reader to her e-mail address.
Curious how Google Buzz works and is able to cause so many problems? Google Buzz will only initially follow those in your Gmail address book, and even then will only choose those whom you e-mail and chat with the most. You will, however, automatically follow any of your friends who have a Gmail account no matter the frequency of your correspondence. So forget any thoughts of incorporating your entire Twitter follow list into Buzz unless you know the e-mail addresses of each and every one of whom you follow. Google Buzz will also send recommendations to you of other people you should be following based on who you follow and your apparent tastes from your Buzzes, hence one major reason for the problems with privacy. Not to mention, Google Buzz also sends out e-mails to your followers all of your Buzzes, whether they are status updates, Google Reader additions, tweets, or YouTube uploads, to anyone they wish.
Since the privacy issue smackdown, Google has been working very hard to fix all of these privacy problems. Now Google Buzz users can restrict who sees their Buzzes as well as limit which applications can connect with Buzz, and of course now everyone has the option to turn the service on and off (scroll to the bottom of your Gmail page for the link).
I personally do not see a need for Google’s latest service since I use the desktop App TweetDeck for both Twitter and Facebook, and I have a feeling many other people feel the same way, especially since for the moment, it offers nothing in terms of businesses boosting their social web marketing. At least, that is how it seems to me for now and from a few experiments with it. Another Google enthusiast has a completely different view on the potential for social media marketing and advertising with Google Buzz. But that remains to be seen, and it will still be interesting to see what happens with Google Buzz, as well as what venture in the social web Google will take on (or try to take on) next.