Google tweaks Buzz after privacy concerns

Image: Google blog about Buzz
A screenshot from Google's blog, posted Feb. 11, which tells Gmail users how to configure Buzz, the social networking program it introduced Tuesday.Google
/ Source: The Associated Press

In response to privacy concerns, Google says it has tweaked Buzz, the social hub it added to its e-mail service this week.

Users worried that Buzz made their frequent e-mail contacts visible to others. And it did so by automatically making these contacts their followers and followees on Buzz, and making these lists public.

On Facebook, that would be like having the people you e-mail with most often automatically become "friends." But those people may instead be your boss or ex-lover, and you wouldn't necessarily want to share everything with them.

So Google said Thursday it made it easier to hide the lists of followers and followees. It also made it easier to block specific people from following your Buzz updates.

Users who want to turn Buzz off altogether can go down to the bottom of their Gmail page and click on "turn buzz off."

Google also offers a long posting on its blog about ways to configure Buzz.

"We designed Buzz to make it easy to connect with others and have conversations about things that interest you, and it's great to see millions of you doing this already," wrote Todd Jackson, product manager for both Buzz and Gmail.

"It's still early, and we have a long list of improvements on the way. We look forward to hearing more suggestions and will continue to improve the Buzz experience with user transparency and control top of mind."

Google said Friday contrary to speculation it is not planning to remove Buzz from Gmail following an initial rough start with the program, which debuted Tuesday. However, it may offer Buzz  separate from Gmail in the future.

“Among some of the features we're considering is building a stand-alone Buzz experience in addition to the one in Gmail at some point in the future," a company spokeswoman said. contributed to this report.