Google change triggers uproar
By Elise Ackerman, Mercury News
Article Launched: 12/27/2007 01:35:58 AM PST
A small change to Google Reader has caused a big stir among users of the online service, which lets people gather updates of blogs and Web sites onto a single Web page.
The new feature announced Dec. 14 seemed innocuous enough: It took blog posts or articles that someone had marked for sharing and made them available to everyone that person had listed as a contact or "friend" on the Google Talk messaging service.
"I like friends! I like Reader! I hope you do too," product manager Chrix Finne wrote in a blog post.
The responses came fast and furious from people who said they were upset to find that every article they had ever marked for sharing was now available to anyone they had ever chatted with over Google Talk.
"This is the worst 'feature' you have ever introduced," a user called Modulo Noh wrote in a Google Group. The remark was quickly seconded.
"The people on my contact list are not necessarily my 'friends,' " wrote Banzaimonkey. "This is a major privacy problem." Forty-two people said they agreed.
Three days later a Google employee tried to calm the crowds, assuring them that the company was listening. Then, Google closed for the winter holidays.
The brouhaha continued.