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Google settles Buzz lawsuit for $8.5 million, doesn’t quite own up to its mistakes

One of the many legal proceedings Google is involved in is drawing to an end. The company announced on Tuesday that it has been granted preliminary approval for a settlement in its Buzz lawsuit, potentially awarding $8.5 million to funds dedicated to promoting Internet privacy. But don’t go thinking Google is admitting any fault in this. Instead, the industry leader reaffirms its commitment to better educating its users about Buzz’s privacy options.

Buzz was launched last year as Gmail’s social media feature. The networking tool’s debut was met with mild confusion to outright rage, as Buzz users were quick to file a complaint with the FTC against the application shortly after its introduction. It seemed Buzz’s big downfall was assuming that a user’s most often e-mailed contacts could be considered “friends,” and thus, privy to any information shared on it. The lack of clarification on Google’s part didn’t help matters, despite its attempts at quickly mollifying the issue.

But the company is ready to put the misunderstanding behind it with the multimillion dollar proposal and promise of further instructions for its users – which has an air of condescension to it, sort of like, “I’m sorry you weren’t smart enough to figure this out on your own. I’ll help you next time.”

In a rare message to its Gmail users, Google wrote, “The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users’ concerns…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.”

The e-mail also notes, “Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation.” So ends one of Google’s many legal sagas – almost. The settlement waits for final approval in January.