Google Listens, Retrenches Buzz

The automation in Google Buzz — a new social media area within Gmail — is less automatic.

The search company announced changes today that would make email addresses more secure.  “We’re moving to an auto-suggest model. You won’t be set up to follow anyone until you have reviewed the suggestions and clicked “Follow selected people and start using Buzz,” wrote Google Buzz Project Manager Todd Jackson.

The product will also stop automatically linking to content users had previously made public such as shared items from blogs or photos from Google’s Picasa web service.  These items were linked to Buzz in a form of one-stop shop that made them much more visible and linked to people’s email addresses.

None of the issues may be as big as creating a separate “Buzz” tab on Gmail’s settings page that allows users to completely opt out of the system.  The settings page will allow users to treat buzz like they do Gmail’s chat feature.   Some may choose to link web content to the site and others may completely turn the feature off.

Google Buzz was a rocky launch and created copious amounts of negative press.   The company deserves extra credit now though for understanding the criticisms and quickly reacting.  Google may be a multibillion dollar organization, but the search giant still acts like a nimble startup sometimes.

Understand the Buzz changes before you activate the service.

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