Google tweaks Buzz settings as users revolt

Google was busy making some changes to its Buzz service last night after Gmail users found that they'd been incorporated into a social networking service they neither asked for nor agreed to join.

In a blog post, Google said it had received complaints from people who thought their contacts were being made public without their knowledge and others, "who felt they had too little control over who could follow them and were upset that they lacked the ability to block people who didn't yet have public profiles from following them".

The would-be owner of the Interweb has made some changes which it thinks make it easier for users to manage their privacy settings.

Buzz, says Google, "helps you create a social network by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with most. You can change, delete or add any contacts you want to follow."

Having received an invitation to use Buzz, your correspondent agreed and a new button appeared on my Google home page. Next time I looked I was following six people and four people were following me.

Eh? How Google thinks it knows who I might want to follow and whether those people allegedly following me know I'm not playing, Google only knows.

The company has been going rapidly bonkers this year already, spreading its tentacles into all sorts of new pies, from phones, operating systems and now this poorly-conceived "social network".

Now we've leaned that it will happily fiddle with our own data as it sees fit if it thinks it will earn a bob or two down the line.

Its tale of woe at the hands of hackers in China is cobblers - crocodile tears. Do you really believe that Google doesn't store as much data on you as it can get its hands on and won't share this with US security agencies when asked?

Pull the other one.

Google is in the information business because it believes information is power. Recognising this fact, Google engineers coined the phrase Don't be Evil. This is no mission statement, it's a reminder from an engineer of the power the corporation could amass by owning the Internet, and how this power could be abused.

But businesses don't operate on ethical codes, they operate on profit margins and - mark my words - Google will do evil if it thinks it can make money and get away with it.

And it will. Increasingly.