Google Buzz's 'auto follow' feature raised a number of privacy concerns when the search giant launched the social network initiative earlier this year, with Google now paying up £5.2 million to privacy campaigners in a settlement over the matter.

Buzz originally annoyed many users when the social network experiment automatically enrolled all your Gmail contacts without seeking prior permission from the user.

Privacy education on the web

As a response to the widespread outcry over the issue, Google has set up the new privacy fund offering a non-inconsiderable $8.5m (£5.2m) to support "organisations working on privacy education and policy on the web".

Buzz lets users post status updates, as well as enabling the option to share content and read or comment on friends' updates.

The experiment has failed to make any kind of dint in Twitter or Facebook's growing userbases and has only left Google with yet more 'data breach' flavoured egg on its face.

The fact that your friends lists could automatically be made public is one of the main reasons the initial users baulked at the offering.

Google moved quickly to rectify the problem, issuing a public apology. But it was a case of too little, too late.

"I'll be hoping to hear more long-term background noise being made by privacy lobby groups to remind web users that what is touted as free often comes at great cost," Paul Ducklin Head of Technology, Sophos wrote on his blog.

"You're really agreeing to sell those organisations the right to accumulate, index, commercialise, and in some cases sell on to third parties, information about who you are, what you do, when you do it, and how you choose to talk about it online," added the web security expert.

Via BBC News