A guide to security settings in Google’s Buzz

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Google Buzz is Google’s latest addition and an attempt to become a vital part of the most popular social networking sites. Following mostly Facebook’s philosophy, Google Buzz allows you to connect with your contacts automatically, set your personal status, start public conversations, share links, videos and photos and stay updated via real-time news feeds. Nevertheless, as remarkable as it sounds, Google Buzz has already been accused for privacy issues as you may end up sharing more personal info and activity than you originally planned.

The most annoying privacy flaw of Google Buzz is that your contacts are automatically available and accessible by anyone that visits your profile. Think of it as your Facebook’s friend list; why should your Gmail contacts be exposed without your previous consent?

However, if you have not created your Google public profile yet, then Google Buzz is not able to publicize your contacts. But, once you set your status in Buzz or try to comment on a friend’s photo or do anything, then your public profile will be automatically created. On the other hand, you can choose to make your Google profile secret to the world. But, there is a catch; if you run an online store or simply wish to be found in Google searches, then deleting or hiding your public profile will harm you and your business. Sounds like a dead-end? Well, thankfully Google developers are trying hard to fix these issues outlining some useful ways to control your security settings.

1. Specifically, log into your Google or Gmail account using your username and password; afterwards, access your Google profile at http://www.google.com/profiles and follow the ‘Edit’ link on the top right corner.

2. On the main ‘About me’ tab you can edit your personal info as well as to control your privacy settings. For example, you can choose to display or hide your full name in search engines, to allow people contacting you without making public your email address and most important, to display or hide the list of people you are following and the ones following you. All you have to do is to uncheck the boxes you want and gain control on your security settings. Do not forget to click on the ‘Save changes’ tab to complete your steps!

3. Nevertheless, if all the above settings are not enough to convince you that Google Buzz can become a safe social networking site without displaying those you email or chat more frequently, then, you may wish to permanently deactivate it. To do so, log into your Gmail account as usual, scroll down the page and hit ‘Turn off Google Buzz’ from the main Gmail view list. But, this is not enough; you will have to visit your Google profile and click on the ‘Edit’ tab. At the bottom of the page you will find the ‘Delete profile and disable Google Buzz completely’ tab written in red letters fully disabling Google Buzz activity while deleting all of your Buzz posts. Additionally, this step will also cut you off from any connected sites and contacts.

To sum up, Google Buzz has just made its entry to the social networking community raising both positive and negative criticism. As with any other new site or web service, you have to take all parameters under consideration before you can fully trust it. After all, you are the one to decide whether to allow access or not!

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