Google Buzz: Ex-Girlfriends From College Can Be A Bad Thing

Google guesses who your friends are, including your mistress that your wife doesn’t know about – and then shows everyone.

This is such an inexact science, because anyone can figure out your email address. We receive so much spam and other garbage through email accounts (is a shopping site really my friend?) and there are conversations you want private. Those connections are now public by default, as Gizmodo points out:

  • A girl you slept with in college sends you a message on Gchat, to tell you she has five beautiful children now, and she doesn’t ever think about you, ever. Ok!
  • You exchange some messages and a couple of emails to be polite. You defuse the situation. You don’t mention it to your current girlfriend, because that would be weird.
  • Coincidentally, you enable Google Buzz, which adds both your current girlfriend and this lady who you politely deflected.
  • Your girlfriend checks out your Google profile, sees your friends list and asks you who that lady is.
  • You clumsily try to explain, “Oh, it just adds people you talk to automatically,” which only makes things worse.
  • Fight!
  • You break up, which was probably a good thing anyway, because your relationship sounded really unhealthy. But you get the point, right?

The situation is so bad, some sites, like Lifehacker, are showing ways to turn off the contact list. Think about it, do you want every telemarketer to be your friend?  Facebook has one important filter: you can deny friend requests.

It’s never, ever a good idea to create a social graph the way Google did. That’s why most of the IM clients do the double opt-in approach. The follower model is killing Twitter.

Google Buzz reinforces the power law online, which means you’ll get to see 100 photos of Jason Calacanis’s dog or promoting how he pays more than some services, but less than About.com for content

The people you want to talk to automatically become long-tail, yet the people who are endlessly self promoting always bubble to the top because they have 11,000 followers. Someone’s always going to make a comment.

Social Customer points out Buzz does two things that will simply make it unusable.

  1. It shows threaded conversations and strongly highlights the initiator of those conversations and makes the comments subservient to the initial post.
  2. It takes posts that have “new” comments and immediately bumps those posts to the topmost position of the viewing window.

This interface will greatly reinforce the existing  power law relationships online and have the effect of greatly reducing the serendipity and interest in things like the current Twitter and Facebook interfaces.

Not that many people use Gmail and most who do are the digerati.

From twittercism:

This is also the first time I've noticed how few of my friends actually use Gmail. I  love Gmail and recommend it to everybody, but people are often quite set in their ways and prefer to stay with Hotmail or Yahoo, irrespective of the lack of features. Looking at my address book, I'm guessing probably less than 20% of my friends have a Gmail address or even a Google account, for that matter.

Yeah, it's mad, but it also means Buzz is already limiting my network.

Social networking is an all or nothing game; and if you only have 20 percent of your friends, do you really think the other 50 percent or so are going to create a Gmail account to see Google Buzz?

I think not.

What’s the take away? Not ready for primetime.

I agree with twittercism:

My gut feeling? Unless they make some major changes and improvements to Buzz soon, and that includes addressing those privacy issues, it's never going to be a threat to Twitter or Facebook. It's just another aggregator, and a bad one at that.

Everyone sees Facebook as the center of their social graph. They also see Google as the place that wants your information, which is why people won’t trust them with their social graph.

What do you think?