Buzz with caution

If, like me, you’ve been anxious to try out Google Buzz, and perhaps are still waiting for it to be enabled on your machine, please be aware of one potential privacy issue.

Basically, by default, your Google profile, which is public, will show your Google Buzz friends — including those friends with whom Google has automatically set you up due to the fact that you e-mail them frequently. Bad idea.

Happily, there’s an easy fix — more than one, in fact.

Here are some of the details.

This article gives you instructions for unfollowing someone if you don’t want them to show up in your profile. But it’s much better, in my opinion, to entirely turn off the feature in your profile that publicly displays whom you follow. I’ve done that. Here’s how:

1) Go to google.com
2) Choose Settings / Google Account settings
3) Click “Edit Profile”
4) UNCHECK the box marked “Display the list of people I’m following and people following me”
5) Scroll to the bottom and click “Save Changes”

I’m still playing around with Buzz. I’m not sure it will have advantages over Facebook or Twitter for people who aren’t already using GMail or who use GMail only as a secondary, seldom-checked alternative e-mail. And if a substantial number of my friends don’t start using it, what interest is it to me?

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