Blown To Bits

Google Smartly Changes Its Mind

Monday, February 15th, 2010 by Harry Lewis

Google yesterday reversed the crucial error it made when it rolled out Buzz. It decided not to initialize the service to follow your email correspondents, but simply to show those people to you as suggestions. In other words, you now have to opt in to following people, rather than opting out if you don’t want to follow them.

Bravo. You can pick at the edges–the company responded at first just by making the opt-out clearer, and didn’t go to opt-in until it realized that the first change wasn’t making the tidal wave of criticism any less powerful. But all things considered, this is a very professional response to a very serious self-inflicted wound.

The Toyota analogy I mentioned earlier sticks in my mind. Was there something in their management structure that allowed this horse to get out of the barn? Will there be some mistrust of Google now, some greater awareness that the company never guaranteed Gmail users absolute privacy in the first place and that it retains the right to make commercially advantageous use of their data?

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