Google Misses the Mark with Reader Shared Items

This might make the folks at Facebook feel better about the whole Beacon privacy fiasco. It appears that even Google can make a mistake, as they did this month when they made shared items in Google Reader accessible to all Google Talk friends. Without asking. And without an easy way to opt out, short of deleting contacts or not sharing anything.

I don't know if I'd go so far as some, who claim that the move by Google ruined Christmas, but it was an unnecessarily foolish move by Google, which could have been avoided by making the sharing an opt-in decision, instead of an opt-out one.

This week (being a slow news week and all), many bloggers took offense to the move. Some complained that Google is invading their privacy by sharing items with people who they didn't intend to share with. Others blame users for not understanding what "shared" means.

Last night, the product team responded on the Google Reader blog with a response to the "helpful feedback" it received from bloggers. The sharing feature is still automatic and opt-out, but now users can quickly create a new tag for all shared items and then decide which contacts to share those items with.

And a link is presented at sign-in to a page that explains the process in the Reader Help Center:"If for any reason you'd like to start your sharing afresh, you can always remove all your previously shared items. Just go to the Friends Settings and click Move or Clear Shared Items. You will be given an option to select or create a tag and move your shared items to that tag, or clear your shared items. The items will remain in their original feeds along with any tags you've given them, but will no longer be in your shared items feed."

About the author

Kevin Newcomb joined ClickZ in August 2004, covering search marketing and other online marketing topics. He has been reporting on web-based businesses since 2000.

Before the bubble burst, Kevin was a marketing manager for an online computer reseller, handling copywriting, e-mail marketing, search marketing and running the affiliate program.

With a combination of real-world marketing experience and years of business journalism, Kevin brings to ClickZ a unique ability to deliver news and training materials that help online marketers do their jobs better.