Why I’m Considering Dumping Facebook for Google Buzz

I’ve been following the various Facebook privacy debates and I’ve been just as concerned as many people, but the reality, or so I thought, is that there weren’t other good options. I really like being able to update all of my friends, family and extended acquaintances on (not so) significant happenings in my life in one easy motion. I like being able to easily share stuff like pictures, videos, links and commentary with these same people. I enjoy posting nonsensical musings that might make people smile, but if people don’t have time … they don’t even have to delete them from their inbox. As far as I knew, there weren’t other worthwhile1 sites that offered that kind of functionality.

When Google Buzz came out to fanfare quickly followed by privacy issues of their own, I was immediately turned off and vowed to not consider the product, let alone use it. But lately, I’ve been perusing Google’s offerings for various reasons and well, it was right there, so I fiddled about with it. I checked their privacy policy. I checked the Google Dashboard, where one can see everything that Google has associated with your profile … manage the privacy settings and in the case of Buzz, delete all content with just a few clicks. And Google Buzz lets you easily do everything that Facebook can do and some other things besides.

So here’s the breakdown of why I’m strongly considering using Google Buzz as my social network framework of choice:

Privacy

I can easily control who can see what entries I create on Google Buzz. I can make something public to the entire Internet, assign one or more groups or even just one person as able to view and comment on my posts on a post-by-post basis.

Visibility

I can easily see what items can be seen by whom. Through the Google Dashboard I can see everything that Google has connected me with and why. I can then make informed decisions on how I use the service rather than relying on word-of-mouth and the latest Internet scare to tell me what Facebook has exposed to outsiders this week.

Anonymity

I’m not using this particular feature but it is well known that Facebook doesn’t allow accounts with anything other than your “real” first and last name with an optional nickname (but only if it is a variation of your first name) or maiden name. On Google Buzz, I could create a new Google Account for any of the various gaming names I’ve held over the years and post as that identity, if I was so inclined.

Control

Basically, what all this boils down to is a question of control. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly stated that in his opinion, the expectation of privacy is no longer a social norm. Because of this, he decided to change Facebook’s policies to match his vision of the current trend in social norms. While I applaud him for taking his company in a bold direction, something most CEOs will not do. I’d rather that access to my information be controlled by my vision of social norms. As far as I can tell, Google Buzz gives me that control.

  1. Yes, I know about LinkedIn, Friendster, MySpace and the like. LinkedIn is designed for business networking. Friendster I can’t even go to their main page without signing in. And if you think MySpace is a serious site, comment after you get your driver’s license. 


        

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