Have You Been Automatically Opted-In to Google Buzz?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Google plans to change what it calls the "buzz start-up experience" to remove automatic opt-in and auto-follow. Read their post about it. (H/T to ajoye and car and Scott Madin in comments.)

Like a lot of folks, I use Gmail. A few days ago, Gmail sent me to a screen when I logged in. The screen offered to let me "try" Google Buzz. I clicked "Skip" and went on about my business. However, it turned out that Google Buzz activated automatically, and I actively had to turn it off. This automatic opt-in has caused some trouble for users. Dr. Isis warns her pseudonymous readers that she can see their real names, and Harriet Jacobs of Fugitivus is pretty angry about getting automatically opted-in to Google Buzz. Her blog is now under password protection (I don't know if that change is a coincidence or not), but according to Shane Richmond at The Telegraph,
Harriet Jacobs, who blogs at Fugitivus, is furious about having been opted-in to Google Buzz by default: “I use my private Gmail account to email my boyfriend and my mother. There’s a BIG drop-off between them and my other ‘most frequent’ contacts. You know who my third most frequent contact is? My abusive ex-husband.”

She adds: “My privacy concerns are not trite. They are linked to my actual physical safety, and I will now have to spend the next few days maintaining that safety by continually knocking down followers as they pop up.”

Such cases are, it is to be hoped, rare but they are illustrative of the dangers of the new trend in web services to ‘default to public’.

UPDATE: see also today's open thread for discussion of this issue. The "default to public" trend is dangerous. No matter how pseudonymous your gmail address is, if your real name appears on the account, it will be visible to "followers". Please be aware if you aren't already.

UPDATE: It looks like my helpful instructions below are not enough to turn off Google buzz for real. Check out these instructions from cnet: Buzz off: Disabling Google Buzz. Thanks to BrookeA and Scott Madin in comments on this thread.

The good news is that it's pretty easy to turn off buzz. Just scroll down to the very bottom of your Gmail message page and click "turn off buzz" on the tiny-print, well-hidden "View as" menu:

screen shot of Gmail homepage

Mine says "turn on buzz" because I have already turned it off. But when I first looked, the link read "turn off buzz", in spite of the fact that I did not activate it and instead told Gmail to "skip" it.

More from Molly Wood at cnet News: Google Buzz: Privacy nightmare.

And from Sam Yerbi at ABH News: Google Buzz Privacy Issues for Gmail Users

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