Google Buzz emerges as new trend in social networking

By Meghan McSloy
February 21, 2010

To keep up with social networking trends, Gmail, which is powered by Google, debuted its newest tool called Buzz.

Buzz gives Gmail users the option to be social with fellow users while encouraging positive productivity and networking at the same time.  While there have been claims that Buzz is the newest competitor for Facebook and Twitter, the masterminds behind Buzz beg to differ.

According to Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, Gmail’s newest edition is different from Facebook and Twitter for the simple fact that it is more of a tool and less for entertainment purposes.

“I think a lot of the past services have focused simply on friends and entertainment, things like that. I think the bridging of those worlds is very powerful,” Brin said in an interview with The Seattle Times.

Buzz combines social networking with a constructive edge. It offers several advantages that Facebook does not. For one, it is linked right into the user’s e-mail homepage, allowing easy access to contacts.

There are some visible similarities between Buzz and Twitter.  For example, people who are frequently contacted by a given users are automatically converted into “followers” on the Buzz tab of the homepage.  In addition, Buzz gives users the option to share frequent updates, similar to tweets, as well as the capability to upload photos.

As far as privacy features go, Buzz allows its Gmail users to mark a post as either private or public. If the public option is selected, that post will be searchable through Google, a feature that is lacked by many other social networking sites.

Buzz is accessed from the user’s Gmail homepage by clicking on the buzz tab on the left-hand side of the page. Once this is clicked, users are able to start using Buzz.  The setup is most easily compared to Twitter, as there is a speech bubble where the user can type their update, or begin to share whatever information they choose. There is also a drop-down list of followers, which includes all recent updates.  Lastly, on all public posts, there is the option to comment, “like” or e-mail.

While it’s hard to say if Buzz will eventually take over sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it is safe to say that some of its features give it a competitive advantage over other sites of its kind.

Students have mixed feelings about Gmail’s newest addition.  “I think that is it pretty cool that Gmail decided to incorporate a social networking tool in with their e-mail service.  I think that it will attract more people to the Gmail service and if anything give them an advantage on the internet,” Megan Krouch, sophomore undecided major and Gmail user, said.

To others, Buzz is just another unneeded feature on the already social networking-clogged internet.  “I think that it is a waste of time. There are already so many other sites out there which serve the same purpose so why add another one,” Nick Casey, sophomore accounting major, said.

Since its debut, Buzz has received some negative feedback as some users feel that it is a privacy concern since “followers” are preselected for every user. Amidst the outcry, Buzz still remains on the homepage of Gmail.

Meghan McSloy

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