Google seems to have quite deceptively hidden some information that Buzz is an automatic opt-in regarding "following". Sure, you can turn it off, but it's not intuitive and you are not pro-actively notified. Disclosure - to say the least - is done in an avoidance fashion.
As I've said before - social networking providers, especially in the consumer space (Facebook, LinkedIn, and now Google), are in a dilemma. They need people to be open in order to create the type of network effects that support their agendas and business models. Only grudgingly will they be transparent when it comes to options available to manage privacy settings. They simply are not the trustworthy advocate for member privacy that they present themselves as when it comes to up-front disclosure, proactive notification and granular levels of consent (refer to Privacy & Social Network Sites: A Case Of Conflicting Agendas).
No one should be surprised... disappointed, yes.
WARNING: Google Buzz Has A Huge Privacy Flaw
There is a huge privacy flaw in Google's new Twitter/Facebook competitor, Google Buzz.
When you first go into Google Buzz, it automatically sets you up with followers and people to follow.
A Google spokesperson tells us these people are chosen based on whom the users emails and chats with most using Gmail.
The problem is that -- by default -- the people you follow and the people that follow you are made public to anyone who looks at your profile.
In other words, before you change any settings in Google Buzz, someone could go into your profile and see who are the people you email and chat with most.
A Google spokesperson tells us the followers lists are public by default so that people can quickly find new people to follow. Obviously, that's a good thing for Google, which is hoping to get as many people using Google Buzz as soon as possible. It's also meant to be helpful for users. And for those who are unconcerned with telling the world who they email most, it is. But for everyone else, it's terrible.
It gets to a deeper problem with Google Buzz: It's built on email, which is a very different Internet application than a social network.
The good news for Google is that this is a very easy problem to fix. Google must either shut off auto-following, or it must make follower lists private by default as soon as possible.