Major buzz about Buzz, but not about its safety

Google’s Buzz, which it unveiled today, means to make Gmail much more social – adding updates and photo- and video-sharing; turning emailers into Twitter-like “followers”; and making all of that local to you (and you to it) via your cellphone, according to hundreds of news articles including PCWorld’s. That last bit concerning geolocation raises some safety concerns, writes ConnectSafely.org co-director Larry Magid in CNET, where he posted an audio interview with Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Writing also in the Huffington Post, he says “Mobile Buzz, which will work initially on the Apple iPhone and Google Android phones,” taking advantage of their GPS tech “so that users will not only be able to update their status but their location as well.” Of course Buzz will work with Google maps. Will that social pinpointing capability be something people have to consciously turn on? I hope so, because young people don’t always stop for safety or privacy reality checks in the rapid-fire back-’n'-forth of teen texting and socializing. But how much will that help even so? These products like Buzz are all just social convenience tools to teens. Teens don’t think as much as we do about separate stand-alone products, services, or devices, each with its own privacy policy, set of terms of service. It’s all much more of a means to the much more important end of staying connected and maintaining mindshare with peers. That’s a challenge when companies just want to throw these various tasks at the lawyers and be done with it. The good news is, Google’s integrating all of its Buzz-related products for fixed and mobile use; maybe they’ll have integrated safety and privacy too.


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