February 11, 2010, 2:29 PM — If you've heard of Google Buzz, chances are you've also heard about some of the privacy concerns that surround it. The social media service offers some cool ways to share photos, links, status messages, and more with fellow Google Buzz users. But if you're not careful, you may end up sharing more than you expect.
Silicon Alley Insider raised some very real privacy concerns about Google Buzz this week, noting that the service ends up exposing many of your e-mail contacts by default. That's a problem if you have e-mail contacts you'd rather not make public.
You also can't hide your e-mail contacts without cutting them off from your Buzz network. But why should you have to choose between exposing your personal and professional relationships or connecting with people on Google Buzz? Facebook recently changed its privacy settings to allow you to hide your friends list; shouldn't Buzz do the same?
Another problem is that to use Buzz you have to create a public Google profile, which could end up exposing your Google e-mail address. Your e-mail address is one of the last barriers preventing people from getting in direct contact with you, so you may not want it out on the Web, for anyone to see. By comparison, Facebook doesn't allow people to get access to your "real" e-mail address unless you decide to make it public.
So before you send out your first Buzz this morning, take a look at this privacy checklist, and make sure you're comfortable with all your personal information that could be exposed through your Google profile.
What your Google Profile Is
To use Google Buzz you have to sign up for a public Google profile that will primarily be seen by other Google users. Your Google profile shows other people who you are, and allows you to share Web content like your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles from one place.
You can, if you choose, make your profile semi-public by removing your full name. This stops Google from displaying your profile in Google search results, but it's important to note you can't make your Google profile as private as your Facebook account can be. Anyone who knows the URL of your Google profile will be able to see its contents, regardless of whether or not your profile is searchable.
Everybody knows your e-mail address now