Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google, With Prodding From Feds, Apologizes For Buzz, Again

Remember Buzz? Google’s ham-handed attempt at a Twitter competitor, launched last year, remains a case study on how not to do social.

We got a reminder of that today, when Google settled Federal Trade Commission privacy violation charges in connection with the service, which tried to build a social network out of users’ Gmail contacts. The problem — lots of people have no interest in making their e-mail social.

The settlement doesn’t seem to involve much more than a statement of public contrition on Google’s part, and a promise not screw up again, backed up by a commitment to two decades of privacy audits.

Still, it’s something — or, if you ask the FTC, a lot: “This is a tough settlement that ensures that Google will honor its commitments to consumers and build strong privacy protections into all of its operations,” says FTC chair Jon Leibowitz.

Google’s apology, meanwhile, is bit more muted. “We don’t always get everything right,” the search giant announced on its blog. “The launch of Google Buzz fell short of our usual standards for transparency and user control—letting our users and Google down…We’d like to apologize again for the mistakes we made with Buzz. While today’s announcement thankfully put this incident behind us, we are 100 percent focused on ensuring that our new privacy procedures effectively protect the interests of all our users going forward.”


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work