Google Buzz Improves Socially, but Not Enough

May 16, 2009 · 2 mins read
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Google Buzz had a few issues to work out when first launching earlier this year, namely the apparent violation of privacy with automated following of contacts already added through your Gmail account. A few changes have already been made to the mutual sharing process on Google Buzz, with another recent tweak. Suggested Users to Follow is now a part of the Google Buzz experience, making the sharing process more clear, and beneficial to users looking to protect their account settings.

With the Suggested Users, Google Buzz takes things a step further than just showing you the users that are following or seek to connect with you on Google Buzz. Similar to what Facebook and other networks have done towards encouraging user interaction, Google Buzz is hoping to stimulate activity in a semi-direct manner.

No surprise, seeing as Google Buzz’s traffic has decreased significantly since launch. It’s speculated that the correlation between Google Buzz’s privacy changes and trailing traffic is also causation–TechCrunch reports that Google Buzz is even losing out to FriendFeed, nearly a forgotten service having been acquired and back-burnered by Facebook.

It seems that Google may have tried too hard to be social with this one. It’s certainly an easy task to make a new service immediately popular when you have an existing user base. But when you make that user base socially interactive by default, individual users have a tendency to get peeved.

And while I haven’t been using Google Buzz nearly as much as I thought, I have been noticing changes here and there to its service. A lot of people I’ve rarely or never actually communicated with via Gmail (or Reader, for that matter) have begun to follow me on Google Buzz. I see alerts for when I receive new followers, with another option for finding even more people to follow. Combined with the constant overflow of information streaming through my Google Buzz front page, I find the whole thing utterly disturbing.

I would rather Google Buzz not become another Twitter or Facebook, merely leveraged by social media “gurus” for the purpose of marketing to people they have little direct connection to. While those social media outlets serve their purpose, I don’t need it so far integrated with the contacts in my Gmail account. Finding a way to make it more personal and relevant to me is step one for Google Buzz’s long list of improvements to make. Till then, I’ll settle for the Suggested Users feature, only because it demonstrates Google’s ongoing desire to improve the service overall.