Google Buzz Draws New Content-Scraping Controversy

    February 28, 2010
    Chris Crum

Update 2:  Google offered the following statement: "Buzz can only expand to show whatever was in the underlying feed. For example, if an item is truncated in the feed to only include 200 characters, then Buzz will only show 200 characters."

So, in other words, Bloggers can prevent their full content from showing in Buzz just like in a reader, depending on how they set up their feed.

Update: So far, Google has referred me to the same response they gave Stay, but I’ve inquired further. We’ll keep you posted.

Original Article:
 If you were under the impression that the controversy surrounding Google Buzz was starting to die down, think again. So far, we’ve mostly heard about privacy issues, which Google has publicly addressed. They’ve also made changes based on user feedback. Now, we’re hearing about possible copyright issues. Google appears to be republishing full articles without permission, and stripping out any ads that may be in those articles.

One can easily see why any blogger or publisher wouldn’t be very pleased with this scenario. Not only are they serving up full articles that others have written without sending authors the traffic or even ad clicks, but if a user reads the article through Buzz within their Gmail account, they will likely see the ads Google itself serves.

Google Buzz - Is it scraping Content? Blogger Jesse Stay of Stay N’ Alive brings the subject up in a post, claiming that this is exactly what is happening to his content. However, Google did respond to him, saying they would "have the ad scraping issue fixed by next week." That would solve one problem, but presumably, this doesn’t change the fact that they are showing full article text, which is an interesting choice on Google’s part, considering the controversy surrounding how Google News aggregates publishers’ content.

That is a different situation entirely, because Google News does not publish full articles (unless they come from one of their partners). They simply provide a title, small snippet, and link to the original source, hence driving traffic to that source. Based on Stay’s story, Google will not likely be driving much traffic by showing full articles in Buzz. We’ve contacted Google for comment on this (we’ll post when we receive it).

One might compare reading an article through Buzz to reading one through a feed reader, like Google Reader. Sometimes you can read a feed in its full text, but the author has the ability to prevent this. With Buzz, the full-text articles appear to be coming simply from people sharing the articles, which is out of the author’s control (we asked Google if their is a way authors can prevent this…again, we’ll post a response when we receive it).


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.