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Buzz Off ?

Google is tempting people with their latest offering Buzz. But will it bite or will we swat?

Google got off to a rather bumpy start with the launch of their latest offering Buzz — its newest foray into the realm of social networking. Most Gmail users would have, by now, surely dabbled with the service. The service allows you to share status updates enhanced with pictures, video, and links which can be commented on and ‘liked’ by those following you. Sounds familiar? Twitter rip off you say? Sure it is, and then some more. In fact it probably fits perfectly between Twitter and Facebook.

As a part of the GMail interface, Google Buzz brings the same features, allowing one to follow updates from their friends and family, and aggregate it all in one place in a threaded format (unlike Twitter). You can either choose to make a post public or share with a list from your contacts. Google Buzz can automatically keep your friends and Family aware of any pictures you add to linked accounts such as your Picasa or Flickr albums, or if you share in interesting item in Google Reader, of videos uploaded to your YouTube account. It can even update from your Google Talk chat status, or Twitter. All of these updates can then be commented on, liked or emailed by people you share it with.

After the initial flurry of buzz posts that likened the service to either twitter, FriendFeed, or Facebook early adopters took a pause and soon realized something quite appalling. In an effort to give users a head start, Buzz had auto-followed each users most frequently mailed contacts and shockingly enough, made an automatic public post about it! Would you really want the world to know who you chat with or mail most frequently? Google came under a lot of flack for this infraction and what some privacy groups consider a gross violation of privacy. Soon after the launch last month, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. While the latest reprimand came from German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner who told media that Buzz constituted “a massive intrusion of privacy.” There are some other glitches with the service as well. Apart from being rather messy in terms of the flow of information — threads get bumped up when people reply, so really popular threads become a constant feature in your timeline. We noticed that those that decide to entirely opt out of it, stand to lose their Google profile. There is also the question of buzz notification mails coming into your inbox while you’re away. Kind of defeats the purpose right? All in all Buzz seems extremely Beta and Google has since, apologized for many of these failing promising swift changes in the service to better protect users’ privacy.

This brings us to another aspect — do you really need another social network that you constantly need to update and manage? Many believe that there is already saturation in this space. Whether or not Buzz will gain momentum depends entirely on how the internet community responds to it. If we go by first impressions being last impressions Buzz has not gained any points there.