Plaxo Hits Another Foul Ball to Left Field

January 4, 2008 by Lisa Oshima | Enterprise, Social Media

At the end of November, I published a Dear Abby-esque post on Plaxo Pulse.  In it, my friend, Paul emailed me to get my opinion on Plaxo Pulse, and I didn’t have many (okay, ANY) positive things to say about it.  So, it was with great amusement that I read Michael Arrington’s post on TechCrunch this morning – Plaxo Flubs It.

I’m all for companies that creative to solve challenges, but not when they infringe on the privacy of others or the terms of use that other companies put in place to protect their users/customers.  I’m continually amazed by how many people and companies (especially in the world of web 2.0) are willing to cast ethics and good sense to the side to benefit themselves in the short term.

Wouldn’t it be great if instead of letting rogue product managers run wild finding ways to benefit their customers to the detriment of innocent bystanders, more web 2.0 execs started standing up for what the internet should be about – making the world a better place?!  As those first Google employees used to say,”Don’t be evil.”

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  • I agree to some extent with your opinion, however people need to take into consideration that the nature of sites such as plaxo is SOCIAL and their purpose is to share what each other are doing. For those who are more privacy oriented it would be better to avoid any kind of sharing site, including blogs and photo sharing sites like flickr, or maybe just stay right away from the internet (have you googled yourself before?). Facebook is even scarier as everything you post there becomes property of facebook for them to use as they see fit. I now hesitate when uploading photos there.

  • Very valid points concerning the right of the user to control which and how much is shared. Google is treading a slippery path with its new features for sharing in Reader and the profile updates in Gtalk. If you want to see something really scary check out (should be spookyo not spokeo).

  • [this is good]
    Foul is right! I can't believe these guys. I'm sure that Facebook caught onto them while Plaxo was developing their app and shutdown some sizeable number of Plaxo's test accounts — so it should have come as no surprise to the Plaxo folks when their first batch of unwitting 'testers' also suffered account shutdowns. If I put my “mad at Plaxo” hat on, I assume that they selected high-profile folks to test their app so that when their Facebook accounts were shutdown (the likely case), the high-profilers would raise enough of a high-profile stink that Facebook would change its policy. This would leave the Plaxo Spam Brigade well positioned to unleash its crapware on the general public — without fear of further Facebook account shutdowns, or having to have done the tough negotiation work with Facebook themselves. Brilliant… if you have no morals.

  • I agree that the nature of social sites is to connect people. But, I firmly believe that people have the right to choose which part(s) of the social graph they participate in. If you want to be on Facebook but not on Plaxo, you should have that right. The problem I have with Plaxo is that they're mining information from a place that Facebook (and the people on it) haven't given them permission to mine. Invasion of privacy is a slippery slope. Plaxo has a history of spamming, and for me, that's reason enough to steer clear. Now, I have another one. You're right – privacy in the world of social media is a tricky topic. If you do a 'vanity search' on Google, you'll only find information that you've publicly posted on sites like Facebook – not things like your email address (on Facebook anyway), which you've restricted to a select group of people. If Facebook were to start letting unspecified sites mine my contact data, I may think twice about my membership.

  • [this is good]
    I couldn't agree more! If the people at Facebook are anything like the rest of us, they were probably sick of being spammed by Plaxo and wouldn't take a meeting with them in the first place!



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