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Friday, 12 February 2010 11:30

Memo to Google: please Buzz off!

For all its talk of "do no evil", Google has certainly done a lot of it. The latest is in imposing its new social networking app, Buzz, on all Gmail users.

There was no warning, no indication that you could turn it off before entering your account. Buzz arrived with a cheery message but with no indication of the privacy implications involved.

Google loves to differentiate itself from Microsoft but in trying to take over every aspect of life on the web, it is just following in the steps of the 800lb gorilla from Redmond. A gorilla whose size has shrunk and is now in pursuit of the one-tonne ape from Mountain View.

Google is obsessed with trying to be the number one in every field. Mail? Hey, here's free webmail that allows us to spy on you. Social networking? Here's Buzz and Wave - all tied in to your mail so that we can spy on you from a few more angles.

Browsing the web? Why, here's Chrome, all set to get you as intoxicated as its name indicates. And there's a mobile, a reader, a... soon, there'll be Google toilet paper too.

Why weren't users given a choice to opt in to Buzz? Why is it sitting there like a leprous limb under the link to one's Inbox? Why does it demand that one create a public profile before one can fully activate it within Gmail?

Both Facebook and Twitter have come in for flak over their porous privacy policies. Now we have Google going one better than them, in its bid to dominate every aspect of web interaction.


The funny thing is that Google claims to espouse the UNIX philosophy, the creed that clearly says one app should do one job and do it well. By extension, that logic also implies that one company cannot write applications for everything and do it well.

But Google only comes up with slogans when it suits the company's marketing objectives. The same as its open source policy which I call its open $ource policy - it releases code when the release does not get in the way of its profits.

Is it just possible that Google is unaware that many technical users like Gmail because it is well designed and meets their requirements? And that they don't need silly things like a Twitter equivalent sitting in there? That some people like the old saying 'speech is silver, but silence is golden'?

The only thing that matters to Google appears to be chatter which will boost its ability to flash its ads before more eyeballs. Every mail message, every bit of bullshit on Buzz, every bit of wordiness on Wave, serves that purpose. And everything else is unimportant to the search giant.

The annoyance to users? Well, Google really couldn't give a damn. The company is in a big hurry to improve your life in the way that it sees fit. And you? Well, the individual doesn't really matter. Once a corporation reaches a certain size, only corporate goals are important.

Shame on you, Brin and Page.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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