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Google settles Buzz lawsuit for $8.5M

Internet privacy groups will be the beneficiary of the settlement, which came as the result of a lawsuit filed over Google's maligned Buzz launch.

A price has been put on Google's mistakes surrounding the launch of Google Buzz: $8.5 million.

That's what Google will pay to settle a privacy lawsuit filed in the wake of the Google Buzz launch. The social-media service was heavily criticized for automatically including users' frequent Gmail contacts on public Buzz profiles when it first went live in February. Google scrambled to make changes to give users better clarity about how the privacy settings worked, but that didn't prevent lawsuits such as the one filed by Gmail user Eva Hibnick in February.

Proceeds from the settlement--after the lawyers get paid, of course--will be donated to as-yet unspecified Internet privacy groups, according to a copy of the settlement made public Friday. Google is also required to "undertake wider public education about the privacy aspects of Buzz," although no specifics were provided. Google will, however, have to notify all Gmail users that it has reached a settlement.

Money aside (a drop in Google's bucket, to be sure), Google's biggest problem with Buzz at the moment may be the fact that it appears to be having trouble gaining traction against more established social-networking sites. The company has never disclosed how many people are using Buzz, which allows users to post status updates, essays, photos, or other content and have their "followers" comment on that content, but prominent tech commentator Leo Laporte's Buzz feed inadvertently went dark for quite some time without either Laporte or his many followers noticing.