Google Buzz is planning more changes to please -- and appease -- users


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Even more changes are coming to Google Buzz. That’s the upshot from my conversation with Google product manager Todd Jackson.

His team has assembled a “war room” in its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters where engineers and executives are weighing user criticism and rolling out updates.


Google has twice tweaked its new social networking tool in response to privacy complaints. Users have also complained that the product is “noisy,” with people who frequently post or who get a lot of comments dominating. That’s one issue that Google plans to “tune” shortly.

Google also plans to reach beyond its 20,000 employees to test new features in the future.The team was surprised by the negative feedback but moved quickly to respond to it, working around the clock since Friday when Buzz became a major topic at the weekly company meeting.

The chief issue the team tackled Friday night: creating a feature that suggests people to follow, rather than having new users automatically follow frequent e-mail and chat contacts. Early Saturday morning, the team got buy in from executives including Google Vice President Bradley Horowitz. Then they spent the day writing the code. The changes will roll out this week.

Critics are still taking the company to task. The Electronic Privacy Information Center plans to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday.

Jackson said Google has worked hard to address the concern that it wasn’t doing enough to protect users’ privacy. It’s unclear whether Buzz is catching on. Google says tens of millions of people have begun to use it.

“We didn’t get things right in the beginning,” Jackson said. “We are working extremely hard to fix that. We are going to continue working and making the product better as fast as we possibly can.”


-- Jessica Guynn