Nobody Wins in Google Buzz Settlement
For many of us, this recent lawsuit news might mark the first time you heard anything about Google Buzz. Launched in February of 2010, it was intended as a social sharing tool fully integrated into Gmail. But the “buzz” it created wasn’t nearly as resounding or influential as Google might have hoped. Instead, blatant privacy leaks without user consent lead to a backlash that is only now reaching it’s conclusion with an $8.5 million settlement.
Despite Google’s quick response to correct the privacy issues in the first release of Buzz, it’s no surprise that a class action lawsuit was thrown together and lobbed at the Internet giant. After all, what’s several million dollars divided among users to a company so large? But that’s not what happened. A recent email sent by Google to all U.S. Gmail users announced that the $8.5 million in settlement money would go to an independent fund supporting organizations working to improve privacy education and policy. Talk about a let down.
But this email hasn’t created much of a wave (pun intended), probably because Buzz appeared to be dead in the water a long time ago, with most of the content showing up in peoples’ feeds being nothing more than rehashed content from Twitter or Facebook. Google ex-employee Lars Rasmussen (of Wave and Google Maps fame) says the company lacks the necessary patience to grow a successful social sharing network. But whether it just takes time or Google hasn’t struck on the right idea yet, we now know that it’s really not worth suing Google over seemingly important things like user privacy. That is, unless you experience a surge of pride when they donate heaps of money to an independent fund.