updated 05:35 pm EST, Fri February 12, 2010
Privacy issues may end Google Buzz in Gmail
(Update with Google clarification) Google Product Marketing VP Bradley Horowitz at the TED conference today said his company may already be planning to separate Google Buzz from its Gmail connections. The move isn't certain but would let users exist on Buzz without having to link it to a real e-mail address. A possible accompanying migration feature would also give the option of redirecting other Buzz users to a new Gmail-free name.
Although only unveiled on Tuesday, Buzz has already generated an extremely large controversy through its auto-following and location features. By adding others and providing few immediate, easy ways to close off access, the live updating service has in a number of cases exposed the Gmail addresses of well-known individuals or those who could face legitimate threats from former relationships or anonymous stalkers. Combining this with geolocation for posts on GPS-capable smartphones like the iPhone or Nexus One also makes it possible to track a person's current physical location, although Google has let users change their exact location when it's not already confirmed.
Clutter has been an additional concern as following too many people or those with frequent updates can clutter the service.
Horowitz has already noted that Google took some emergency steps to address some complaints earlier this week, including the ability to block anyone who chooses to follow, a clearer option for hiding followers on one's public profile and a better notion of which users will let themselves show on a public profile.
Update: Google has corrected and said it wouldn't pull Buzz from Gmail; the independent version would be an additional, separate option. [via Search Engine Land]