Business Insider is reporting a huge privacy hole in Google Buzz. When a user logs into Buzz, it automatically provides them with followers and people to follow, based on how frequently users email and chat with their acquaintances. The problem, the magazine points out, is that both the people who follow you, and the people you follow, can be viewed by default by anyone who checks out your profile. “In other words, after you create your profile in Buzz, if you don’t edit any of the default settings, someone could visit your profile and see the people you email and chat with most (provided you didn’t edit this list during profile creation).”
The guys at Gizmodo came up with a perfect scenario of how this could land a Buzz user in trouble:
• A girl you slept with in college sends you a message on Gchat, to tell you she has five beautiful children now, and that she doesn’t ever think about you, ever. Ok!
• You exchange some messages and a couple 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.
• You break up, which was probably a good thing anyway, because your relationship sounded really unhealthy. But you get the point, right?
Google, however, is denying that the current default settings amount to a breach of privacy, claiming it is very easy to change the settings to the user’s liking, and that they have thought this one through very carefully.
To learn how to immediately stop following someone or turn off Buzz, visit Business Insider.