NY Times: Responding to a flood of criticism from consumers and privacy advocates, Google has disabled one of the most maligned features in its new Buzz social networking service. Instead of automatically connecting users to their most frequent e-mail and chat contacts, the service now will only recommend connections.
Google product manager Todd Jackson said the so-called "auto-follow" feature was intended to make it easier for people to start using Buzz. Were very sorry for the concern weve caused and have been working hard ever since to improve things based on your feedback, Jackson apologized. Well continue to do so.
While the change and apology allayed the fears of some critics, others weren't so easily satisfied. Even with these changes, there is still the concern that Gmail users are being driven into a social networking service that they didnt sign up for, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.