How to protect your privacy on Google Buzz

February 11, 2010: 3:15 PM ET

A few people have asked me, what gives with Google Buzz and should I just turn it off? First off, that's an option. Turn it off if it annoys you; you can always turn it on later.

But if you're going to turn it on, keep in mind that while Google offers myriad privacy settings, it currently defaults to settings that make most information public, including your lists of followers and folks you follow. (If you accept the Buzz invitation, you're immediately offered a group of followers from among those with whom you correspond most frequently on Gmail. You can take a look at anyone else's followers, even if you aren't connected on the service.)  So here's a quick primer on how to adjust your privacy settings:

From your Gmail inbox:

1. Click on the Buzz icon beneath your Inbox icon.

2. Click on the photo of your face, bringing you to your Google profile.

3. Click on the third link beneath your name, marked "Google Profile."

4. Click on "Edit Profile" on the right side of your screen.

5. On the right, you will see three boxes, labeled:
- Display my full name so I can be found in search
- Allow people to contact me (without showing my email address)
- Display the list of people I'm following and people following me

I suggest you consider making sure the first and third boxes are unchecked, so that your Google profile doesn't show up in Google searches (unless you plan to use it to represent yourself in a public way). Also, you keep the general public (and nosy friends) from sizing up your list of followers and folks you follow--and thus getting a glimpse at who you chat with the most privately.

Do you have more recommendations? Please let me know.

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About This Author
Jessi Hempel
Jessi Hempel
Senior Writer, Fortune

Jessi Hempel is a New York-based technology writer for Fortune. She has written extensively about digital media, online advertising and social networking. Before joining Fortune in July 2007, Hempel worked at BusinessWeek and most recently served as their innovation department editor. Hempel is a graduate of Brown University and received a Masters in Journalism from The University of California at Berkeley.

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