Rather than slink away in shame and silence, Google has decided to go public with its $8.5 million settlement regarding privacy violation when it launched Buzz. Last night, it sent an email out that starts off, “Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email” and proceeds to let its users know that it is providing these millions to organizations that promote education about online privacy issues.
I applaud Google not only for coming clean about the settlement but also implicitly suggesting that no one has all the answers about privacy issues when it comes to social networking. This is the truly revolutionary aspect of this medium. By giving everyone easy access to publishing online content, social networking shifts the paradigm about privacy. What will it look like? We don’t know but that doesn’t mean we can bury our heads in the sand and pretend we can avoid dealing with it. Google is admitting it doesn’t have all the answers and is looking to share the questions, doubts, concerns in a public and non-commercial way. Now we need to hold their feet to the fire and make sure this $8.5 million is spent in keeping with their objective.