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How to turn off Google Buzz, or just close some of its privacy loopholes

Google's been bragging about how many users are on its new Google Buzz service, but a lot of those people want to turn Buzz off. We're already discovering major privacy loopholes in Buzz (okay, the whole thing feels like a privacy loophole) like people's private, backup email addresses being exposed through @replies, and everyone being able to see who you follow.

For the Buzz-haters out there, here's a guide to turning Buzz off, or just disabling specific features of the new services.

Turn Buzz off altogether

To turn off Google Buzz altogether, find the "turn off Buzz" link at the bottom of your Gmail screen. It won't remove your followers/following list or change the settings on your Buzz account, but Buzz won't actively bother you anymore.

Stop Buzz from exposing your social circle to the world via your Google Profile

If you don't want everyone to see the people you're following and the people who follow you on Buzz, you can turn that off via your Google Profile. (There should be a link to your Google Profile at the top of your Buzz page, next to your followers/following numbers.) Go to "settings" and then find "Display the list of people I'm following and people following me," on the right side of the screen, near your profile image. Uncheck it. Boom.

Remove the Buzz unread count from your Gmail sidebar

If you don't want to kill Buzz altogether, but you feel nagged by seeing how many unread Buzz items you have piling up, you can switch the count off with a userscript. It works with Greasemonkey in Firefox, Greasekit in Safari, and now natively in Chrome. You can snag the script at

Blocking unwanted followers

It wasn't obvious before, but Google has thrown in more prominent "block" links next to each of your followers, right on the followers list page. Keep in mind that "block" and "ignore" are different, so when you get a new follower, make sure you're totally blocking him if you don't want him seeing your Buzz.

Keeping Buzz updates out of your inbox

If you're okay with Buzz, but hate seeing its updates in your inbox along with your regular Gmail, it's time to create a filter. First, find the "create a filter" link next to the Gmail search box. In the "has the words" field for your new filter, enter "label:buzz" (without the quotation marks). Click next, and ignore the warning about labels that might pop up. As for what to do with the Buzz spam, choose "Skip the Inbox (archive it)." Voila! No more buzzing in your inbox. This Buzz-killing tip comes from Lifehacker.


Tags: annoyances, buzz, disable, google buzz, GoogleBuzz, kill, privacy