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Google Introduces Buzz-kill Link to Gmail

Google has update Buzz for the second time in several days. On Thursday Google made a few minor changes to the service regarding certain privacy settings. On Saturday, Google made some major changes to the service, including rethinking the decision to set people up with followers without their consent.

Last week, Google educated Buzz users on how to switch their following and followers lists to private. By default these are set to public and so, anyone who views your Google profile can see who's following you and who you're following. Given that who you follow and who follows you is selected by Google based on who you email the most, a lot of people were pretty mad that Google was revealing their most used contacts.

In a blog post published this past Saturday, Google refers to, "a new Buzz start-up experience." This time the company has made some bigger changes, doing away with the 'instant friends list' approach completely. Instead of setting you up with followers and people to follow, Google will present you with a list of suggested users; meaning you get to pick and choose who you follow and who you ignore.

Google has also added a Buzz tab to settings in Gmail. Before everything was all spread out: The switch to decide not to display your followers lists was buried in your Google profile settings, the "turn Buzz off" link was way down at the bottom of your Gmail window, and anything to do with private and public Buzz updates were inside the Buzz tab. Google has made things a littler easier by endeavoring to put all the Buzz related settings in one place.

Google will also no longer connect your Google Reader and your Picasa account with Buzz. Previously, anyone who signed up for Buzz had to manually disable this. If they did not, anything they shared on Reader would be posted in their Buzz stream and Google would show any updates to Picasa albums and in some cases, Twitter.

Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of a "Disable Buzz Completely" link. When exploring Buzz for the firs time, people were prompted to set up Google profiles. If they decided they didn't like this new social-media effort from Google, they could switch it off via a "switch off Buzz" link at the bottom of their Gmail page. However, what most people don't realize is that this link does not undo all of your previous Buzz activity. It merely hides the Buzz tab and stops the constant stream of Buzz updates to your inbox. Your Google profile is still live, all your Buzz posts are there and if you didn't set your followers lists to private, people can still view them. This 'out of sight out of mind' approach has been replaced by a more permanent solution that carries the warning, "This will disable Google Buzz in Gmail and delete your Google profile and Buzz posts. It will also disconnect any connected sites and unfollow you from anyone you are following.

Read the full blog post here.