newborn google buzz has experienced significant growing pains in its first few days. surprisingly, most of the criticism of the new service has focused on the service’s auto-follow feature. I’m less concerned who google thinks I should be following and even follows on my behalf. I’m more concerned about the other side of the coin – the absence of good controls over who follows me. happy day: there’s good news to report.
something I noticed when I started using buzz was the relative anonymity of the people following me. sure, I could click on the list. but if someone new got on the btrandolph bus, there was no way to know. combine this with the knowledge that any frequent correspondent (my ex, my parole officer, etc) got access to any information I was sharing through my google profile as soon as they joined the party. not exactly an invitation to share.
to make matters worse, there was no way to proactively prevent people from following. google buzz magnifies facebook’s privacy issues. in facebook, one is still able to define who sees what to a large extent. when it launched, google buzz was like a facebook where anyone at all could friend any other user without asking permission.
I am happy to report that along with the more publicized changes to the auto-follow feature and linking other google services, google buzz has made it easier to manage followers. unfortunately, other buzz users can still follow without a by-your-leave. the same is true of twitter; the difference is that following someone on twitter gives access to a pretty limited amount of information.
the good news is that when they do, the followed person now gets this notification:
clicking the options link provides the following:
users have the chance to see recent activity from new followers, see who’s following them and who they in turn are following, and if appropriate, block the new follower. here’s a shot of the recent activity screen:
users can access the same information with a click or two – the changes just make it more convenient. finally, if you decide to block someone, you can do it without making a big deal:
if they have a public list of folks they follow, you won’t be on it. your stuff won’t show up in their stuff, and they won’t be able to chime in on your stuff. best of all, your persona non grata doesn’t get an email telling them they’ve been dissed.
it’s not perfect. as far as I can tell, there is no way to prevent specific people from following you before they actually are.
have you discovered any other gbuzz improvements that float your boat? do share!
buzzer image: cc2.0 cryptonaut