It took me about a day an half to get on Google Buzz after it was announced. The first thing I noticed was that I was already following a half dozen accounts and worst off that some people where following who I had only emailed but a few times. Google Buzz’s first failure was that it auto-followed certain contacts in your address book based on some ‘algorithm.’ The second mistake in Google Buzz was that it pushes you to make your profile public, even an experienced social media maven can inadvertently make their profile page public. A third oversight in Google Buzz is that your profile name is your email address. The fourth mistake is you can see, by default, the people that other people are followings and their followers. There are many more mistakes and hiccups, like blocking not working correctly, and these have been covered many times over. The problems I have listed here have a perfect privacy shit storm. The Eric Schmidt, CEO of “do no evil” Google, has defended Buzz and their lack of privacy awareness as a end user confusion. So maybe this is the perfect Schmidt storm as I don’t think he is using Google Buzz.
It was reported that the Google boss said the following:
I would say that we did not understand how to communicate Google Buzz and its privacy. There was a lot of confusion when it came out… [last] Tuesday, and people thought that somehow we were publishing their email addresses and private information, which was not true.
Eric Schmidt is either a liar or a dummy, pick any two! With the issues outlined above, it is possible to find out peoples email address, and worst, find out people close to however you are virtually stalking, I mean friending. Let’s take a public example, let’s see if we can find Mark Zuckerberg’s close contacts and email address using Google Buzz.
First you will need to log into your GMail account and click into the Buzz inbox. If this is your first time, you will probably already have a few followers. Under the text area to enter your buzz, you will see a link that reads ‘Find people.’ There is a search box where you can find more people to follow. In this box, enter Mark Zuckerberg. Mark of Facebook fame should be one of the first few people that comes up. Originally I was going to do this experiment with Eric Schmidt but I had a tougher time finding his profile. You can follow Mark or view his public profile. Mark is probably busy playing Farm Ville or working on new Twitter features to copy so he probably has not configured the privacy settings of his Google Buzz account.
It might also be worth while to question if this is the real Mark Zuckerberg, we can not be sure, but if you see the people that are following this profile you will see that very connected Silicon Valley technologists are following this person.
In Mark’s public profile you will see that he is currently following 16 people. A quick glance of said followers shows Mark Zuckerberg is following Charles Cheever, Dustin Moskovitz, Adam D’Angelo, Paul Buchheit, amongst others. So now you can do this to each person that Mark follows on Google Buzz, etc. and easily develop a social graph of people Mark Zuckerberg contacts and connects with via email. Looking these folks up, on Google, you will find that they are early Facebook founders and fellow Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
If you click on his public profile you will see that his Google Profile vanity URL is the following.
Notice his user name, mark.zuckerberg. If you append “@gmail.com” to his profile name, you will get Mark Zuckerberg’s GMail address. Feel free to send him a note telling him how much you enjoy getting updates about your friends finding alien cows on Facebook. Mark is a private guy, I mean you can’t just add Mark Zuckerberg as a friend through his Facebook profile page. As the founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark is tech savvy so I can’t imagine him intentionally making his GMail address publicly available.
It is evident, that Eric Schmidt is not aware how easily it is to find private email address of Google Buzz users or he is lying. I think that Google should change their motto from “do no evil” to “it’s okay to do dumb shit with your privacy.” What I can’t believe is that apparently Google Buzz was in use inside of Google and by some of their 20,000++ super genius bar qualified engineers for a year or so and no one caught this.