Google Buzz is bad.
Google Buzz is inserted into Gmail, so you’re really using Buzz whether you want to or not, just by checking your e-mail. Whether you navigate to the Buzz label or not is completely irrelevant, you’ve signed up, by default, simply by doing something you probably do every day. You don’t opt-in to Google Buzz. Can you imagine if, all of a sudden, you had a Facebook profile, simply because you talk on the phone, sometimes? This is a feature?
Google Buzz automatically, by default, sets you to follow people you’ve contacted. These may include your friends, but really it’s just your Google address book. Can you imagine if you signed into Facebook and you were automatically friends with everyone in your Rolodex? Consequently, the people I started out following on Google Buzz were people I hadn’t talked to in years; folks like a real-estate broker from years ago or relatives I don’t keep in touch with. And likewise, they are following me. I didn’t do anything to indicate interest in watching their Buzz, I only had them in my address book. This is a feature?
By default, your Google Buzz profile is totally public. So anybody in your address book that you’re not magically “following” can look at your profile and see who else is in your address book. There may be good reasons you don’t want that.
The settings where you can set who you want to follow and the publicness of your profile are not in the Settings tab of Gmail, where you would expect them to be. They are kind of hard to find.
This Google model of automatically connecting you with your "contacts" is seen all over Google products now. On Google Wave, all of your “contacts” are in the contacts pane of Google Wave, by default. You can’t remove them from that pane.
On Google Reader, I keep my Shared Items private: only a select group of people can see the items I share. When Google Buzz launched, I received a group of requests from my ‘contacts’ to see my Shared Items. When I asked one about it, he said that he never requested to see my items, it must have just happened automatically: and indeed it did. Google Reader now, by default, tells everybody in your address book that you want to view their share items. It even uses that language:
"These people are requesting access to your shared items and comments."
But they’re not. They did not actively request access. Google requested access for them, whether they knew it or not. This is at the very least, completely misleading.
Contacts Are Not Friends.
What Google does not understand is that simply because I have somebody in my Google Address Book, does not mean I wish to track them. In my address book are my nemeses along with my friends. Simply because I keep a record of somebody’s e-mail address does not mean I am interested in them. On Facebook, I opt-in to my connections. On Twitter, I elect to follow someone. Google, by default, opts you in to these connections, whether you are aware of it or not.
A much more sensible default would be to only add contacts who are in the Friends group of my address book. Duh.