Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Google is famous for its motto, "Do no evil." That is why its present cock-up with its new Facebook-like software called Buzz is interesting. One wonders how the company could have committed such a PR blunder. Privacy advocates are hammering Google for making Buzz too powerful. Buzz works with G Mail and Google had built it so it would automatically expose everyone in a person's address book to everyone else. I'm sure that a Google engineer thought it was a neat feature without thinking how embarrassing this might be. It is to Google's credit that it backpedaled from the feature almost immediately once the criticism started, and it is making inclusion selective. But how did the mistake happen in the first place? Developers and company executives were clearly not sensitive to privacy issues when they built and introduced the product. That should be a warning. Their definition of "Do no evil" is too internally focused.