Google Reader’s Privacy Flap

'Tis the season to be upset - upset at Google over privacy, at least.  Actually, it's year-round, and here's yet another.

On Dec. 14th, in Google Reader Help and on the Official Google Reader Blog, they posted about a new feature, which, as they put it:
The short description of it is this: If any of your friends from Google Talk are using Reader and sharing items, you’ll see them listed in your sidebar under “Friends’ shared items.” Similarly, they’ll be able to see any items you’re sharing. You can hide items from any friend you don’t want to see, and you can also opt out of sharing by removing all your shared items.

This is still a very experimental feature, so we’d love to hear what you think of it. Thanks, and happy sharing!
That last line about it being experimental is key, I think, as it appears they didn’t gauge public reaction too well.

The very first post in reply to the announcement (full thread here) shows one of the key things wrong with this feature: no granularity. In this I would agree. This is an RSS Reader, not a social networking site. I might want to share things with my friends, but just because they are in my contacts list doesn’t mean I want to share anything with them.

The full article points out that in fact, all your shared items were already available on the WWW anyway, though the URL was obfuscated.  So is this overblown or not?  What do you readers think?