Did Google Miss What Happened To Facebook?

Most anyone who pays attention to Web 2.0 news knows about the privacy face-plant caused by Facebook's Beacon service. However, it looks like the guys at Google may have missed it, given the brouhaha brewing over Google's decision to open the doors to user's Google Reader feeds.

The move seemed simple enough at the time: On December 14, Google added a feature — enabled by default — intended to make it easier for users to share their Google Reader feeds with Gmail and Google Talk contacts. Users already had the ability to setup feeds and share them with selected Google Reader contacts, but the new change extended access to those feeds to all of a user's Gmail and GTalk contacts. Many users feel the change is a privacy invasion, allowing contacts access to information they were never intended to see. Angry complaints have pointed out the possibility of employers, children, and business contacts to discover embarrassing and potentially actionable content.

Google's response — from a product rep identified only as "Graham" — has fanned the flames considerably. The posting pushed some responsibility back on users, noting that "[t]he 'share' feature was always intended to imply some amount of publicity. That's why we used the term 'share.'" Angry users were unmoved by what they described as a "politician's answer," and accused Google of failing to address their concerns and violating user's trust.

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