Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Apologies and a Word from Google Buzz

Sorry for the late post, gang. Last night I was at the concession party for Elaine Marshall. She's the NC Secretary of State, but she was running for Senate against Richard Burr, the incumbent. I had to come home and write a little essay piece about the evening. Long story short, I was up til 3am and could not wrench myself out of bed before classes at 9 this morning. I do apologize, though. It always annoyed me when I was at work and a blog wouldn't update until after 5pm. For 9-5ers, blog updates in the early evening are utterly useless.

You can read the Marshall story here if you want.

Tomorrow we'll be back on track with the morning posts. For now, SPORTS.

(I think I might make that the new main blog photo.)

You know what's interesting about sports right now? Nothing's really going on. Baseball is finito, we're still about a week away from college basketball kicking into gear, the great weekend in football is tantalizingly out of reach, and who even knows what Rafael Nadal is up to.* It's the straight up doldrums.

*I do. I follow him on facebook and his website. He opened an "Educational and Sports" school in India in mid-October through the Rafa Nadal Foundation. Then he played a pro-am golf tournament in Borriol with Sergio Garcia. More recently, he scheduled a charity match on December 22nd with Roger Federer. For now, he's chilling in Mallorca with family and friends.

So instead of talking about sports, I'll discuss this strange e-mail from Google Buzz that most of us got in our g-mail inbox today. As far as I can tell, someone took Google courtside over privacy infractions and forced a settlement. Also, the court made Google send this semi-apologetic e-mail. But it's all a little vague, so I thought I'd take a moment and clarify the legalese. Let's take it piece by piece.

Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email, but we are making an exception to let you know that we've reached a settlement in a lawsuit regarding Google Buzz (, a service we launched within Gmail in February of this year.

"We are making an exception because we have to, as you will see in a disclaimer at the bottom of this very e-mail. But also because we love you and want you to know about lawsuits we've lost lately."

Shortly after its launch, we heard from a number of people who were concerned about privacy. In addition, we were sued by a group of Buzz users and recently reached a settlement in this case.

"Were these buzz users ungrateful? Who's to say? Far be it from us to judge. God knows they probably enjoyed gmail for years before this. Searching, chatting, archiving...the whole nine yards. Everyone and their mother will tell you it's the best email service on the internet. Is there even an argument? Does anyone want to dispute that? Please, try to convince me that you'd rather use Yahoo. Personally, we'd rather take medical advice from than accidentally see Yahoo's log-in page. Hell, try to remember the last time you didn't wince in pity when you saw that some chicken-pecking rube still used hotmail. Can you remember? Can you? Didn't think so. Everyone loves gmail, and if they don't they should be shot for standing in the way of progress.

But apparently somebody's status message was broadcast to someone outside their little circle of friends, and BAM! Lawsuit. Welcome to America, gang: where you can sue the best fucking corporation in the universe because your friend's aunt found out you like to complain about construction noise at 10am on Wednesday mornings. I guess this is what we died fighting Hitler for."

The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users' concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web.

"That's right: we fixed it immediately, and it still cost us a cool $8.5 million plus whatever we had to pay our lawyers. And hey, take a guess about whether or not those suit-wearing dudes charged a reasonable rate. Really, take a guess. Here's a hint: they order their sushi straight from Japan.

Also, that organization that gets all the money? Gogle. That's right: Google minus one letter. Chew on that, world. (We're still pretty uncertain about whether this will fly, legally speaking.)"

We will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific to Buzz. The more people know about privacy online, the better their online experience will be.

Education: Concerned about privacy? Get off the internet, you neo-Luddite creep. Tell Jebediah at the next barn raising that you sold your computer to someone who wanted to live in the real world.

Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation.

You're late to the gravy train, biatch. But here, have a free e-mail.

Everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before December 6, 2010.

If you decide to opt out, we are literally going to broadcast photos and video of your bedroom on our home page. Seriously, we're pissed; just give us an excuse to legally violate the hell out of your privacy.

The Court will consider final approval of the agreement on January 31, 2011.

Which, coincidentally, is the same day that Larry Page lost his virginity in 2003. He was almost 30.

This email is a summary of the settlement, and more detailed information and instructions approved by the court, including instructions about how to opt out, object, or comment, are available at

If you're interested in that website, you might also like

This mandatory announcement was sent to all Gmail users in the United States as part of a legal settlement and was authorized by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Which, as we all know, is where they send the screwball judges who can't hack it in the Southern District.

Google Inc. | 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway | Mountain View, CA 94043

Come on by. We'd like to show you our angry, angry dogs.


Tomorrow we talk strategy for Duke's Thursday night exhibition against Cal-Poly Pomona. Should be a barn-burner.


  1. Rafa is also the subject of the Proust Questionnaire in October's Vanity Fair. So, like, he's up to some pretty highbrow things.

  2. I love that survey. Rafa's answers are so typically him: humble, honest, and complete devoid of any frills.