Rapleaf wants your email address

If there’s one reason why I hate corporate marketing departments it’s that they always want your data. Why? To study it. To justify their existence to their bosses.

I saw this pressure up close and personal when the team I was on, Channel 9, was pressured to use Passport and force people to sign up.

Stefanie Olsen at ZDNet News reports on Rapleaf and Upscoop
who are collecting email addresses, among other things, from Facebook and other platforms, and reportedly selling them to marketers.

When I worked at a magazine back in the 1990s I saw this up close and personal too. Did you know that magazines trade your shipping address? Often they collect up to $.08 an address, too. There are entire businesses that do nothing but sell these mailing lists and provide more revenues to publishers.

These are just a modern version of those businesses.

Translation: more commercial crap you don’t want is coming to your social network and your email soon.

Sigh.

UPDATE: Judi Sohn says I totally missed the point here and links to responses from Rapleaf to Stefanie’s post.

UPDATE2: I totally got this one wrong. See my comments here for more info.

28 thoughts on “Rapleaf wants your email address

  1. Social media is a miracle for marketers. The information we willingly give to complete strangers about ourselves is on a level never dreamed of in the days of focus groups behind mirrored windows. I’m beginning to think people should have a spam identity, an utterly fabricated name and address, plus an identifying email, just for tracking the spam that ensues from each registration.

  2. Social media is a miracle for marketers. The information we willingly give to complete strangers about ourselves is on a level never dreamed of in the days of focus groups behind mirrored windows. I’m beginning to think people should have a spam identity, an utterly fabricated name and address, plus an identifying email, just for tracking the spam that ensues from each registration.

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  4. @Auron

    You PR speak is all well and nice and I expect that making points with Robert will go a long way to giving you cred with the big boys.

    I’m just curious as to what safeguards you have in place that to protect users from others that might use the service for less than .. uhh … proper reasons as I have already expressed my opinion concerning services like this .. but then I don’t have the pull like the big boys such as Robert.

  5. @Auron

    You PR speak is all well and nice and I expect that making points with Robert will go a long way to giving you cred with the big boys.

    I’m just curious as to what safeguards you have in place that to protect users from others that might use the service for less than .. uhh … proper reasons as I have already expressed my opinion concerning services like this .. but then I don’t have the pull like the big boys such as Robert.

  6. Robert — Rapleaf doesn’t sell email addresses to anyone. Ever. we never have and never will. We also do not troll Facebook for email address — we never have and never will. Stefanie Olsen makes the distinction clear in her article on news.com as do almost all the bloggers who wrote about Rapleaf (many wrote very thoughtful and insightful comments — see the critical, yet very well-researched, blogs from Marshall Kirkpatrick and Judi Sohn and others).

    Also — you have my email address and mobile number, you’re free to call me any time to talk before you write about us. You’re free to write anything you want, of course, but we’re happy to give you any information to make your job easier.

    As one of the most influential bloggers on the web, you have a responsibility to print your strong opinion. But you also have a responsibility not to print things that are false — especially if you can avoid it with one phone call or email.

    we’ve definitely made some mistakes and we hope to correct them, but we’re proud of what we’re doing overall and we have an opportunity to create the dream of portable reputations and identities and social graphs that people have wishing for for many years.

    I’m a huge fan of your blog and of you personally and, in the future, i hope you will contact anyone else you write about before writing a story and (assuming they get back to you in a timely manner) give them at least 10 minutes to answer your questions.

  7. Robert — Rapleaf doesn’t sell email addresses to anyone. Ever. we never have and never will. We also do not troll Facebook for email address — we never have and never will. Stefanie Olsen makes the distinction clear in her article on news.com as do almost all the bloggers who wrote about Rapleaf (many wrote very thoughtful and insightful comments — see the critical, yet very well-researched, blogs from Marshall Kirkpatrick and Judi Sohn and others).

    Also — you have my email address and mobile number, you’re free to call me any time to talk before you write about us. You’re free to write anything you want, of course, but we’re happy to give you any information to make your job easier.

    As one of the most influential bloggers on the web, you have a responsibility to print your strong opinion. But you also have a responsibility not to print things that are false — especially if you can avoid it with one phone call or email.

    we’ve definitely made some mistakes and we hope to correct them, but we’re proud of what we’re doing overall and we have an opportunity to create the dream of portable reputations and identities and social graphs that people have wishing for for many years.

    I’m a huge fan of your blog and of you personally and, in the future, i hope you will contact anyone else you write about before writing a story and (assuming they get back to you in a timely manner) give them at least 10 minutes to answer your questions.

  8. Judi and Marshall: I know it’s not just about emails. I didn’t make that point clearly. Thanks for making it for me. I updated my post to link over to Judi’s post.

    I was just trying to say that this is the modern-day equivilent of selling email addresses. Of course there’s more to sell now.

  9. Judi and Marshall: I know it’s not just about emails. I didn’t make that point clearly. Thanks for making it for me. I updated my post to link over to Judi’s post.

    I was just trying to say that this is the modern-day equivilent of selling email addresses. Of course there’s more to sell now.

  10. Robert, I respectfully disagree with your take on this one. Judi’s right, it’s not about selling emails – the buyers bring the email adresses they already have and ask Rapleaf “what do you know about these people? are they more likely to be MySpace users or Facebook users?” I think there’s some potential for a legitimate business model there, specifically the opposite of “more commercial crap you don’t want.” Instead, marketing that’s more like Adsense than it is like pop-ups. Hopefully. I wrote about this whole situation at length at http://marshallk.com/rapleaf-and-their-problems

    Many of us (you and I included) may be capable of creating social media content that serves marketing goals, but I don’t think that will ever make up 100% of the marketing efforts online – not even close. For the rest of the world, data mining grounded in user control of that data (the kind of thing Rapleaf has the potential to facilitate) makes a lot of sense to me.

    Rapleaf is guilty of a lot of things, but I disagree with your characterization of them here. I’m really hoping they get it together – and that doesn’t preclude selling information to marketers, in my mind.

  11. Robert, I respectfully disagree with your take on this one. Judi’s right, it’s not about selling emails – the buyers bring the email adresses they already have and ask Rapleaf “what do you know about these people? are they more likely to be MySpace users or Facebook users?” I think there’s some potential for a legitimate business model there, specifically the opposite of “more commercial crap you don’t want.” Instead, marketing that’s more like Adsense than it is like pop-ups. Hopefully. I wrote about this whole situation at length at http://marshallk.com/rapleaf-and-their-problems

    Many of us (you and I included) may be capable of creating social media content that serves marketing goals, but I don’t think that will ever make up 100% of the marketing efforts online – not even close. For the rest of the world, data mining grounded in user control of that data (the kind of thing Rapleaf has the potential to facilitate) makes a lot of sense to me.

    Rapleaf is guilty of a lot of things, but I disagree with your characterization of them here. I’m really hoping they get it together – and that doesn’t preclude selling information to marketers, in my mind.

  12. You are absolutely correct about Facebook. A few email spammers seem to be trolling Facebook for email addresses. Just make sure that when you allow someone to become your “friend” on Facebook, that you restrict their access to your profile. Otherwise, with unrestricted access, your “friends” will be able to see your email address.

  13. You are absolutely correct about Facebook. A few email spammers seem to be trolling Facebook for email addresses. Just make sure that when you allow someone to become your “friend” on Facebook, that you restrict their access to your profile. Otherwise, with unrestricted access, your “friends” will be able to see your email address.

  14. Not that I’m defending Rapleaf in any way, nor do I know any of the players involved, but if you’re going to link to the ZDNet article, you should also link to Rapleaf’s response (which is a bit explanation and a whole lot of apology).

    Also, this isn’t about selling email addresses, it’s about the profiles. Knowing something about you based on the kinds of social networks you join and the information those networks make publicly available *about* you. Your email address is the least of it.

  15. Not that I’m defending Rapleaf in any way, nor do I know any of the players involved, but if you’re going to link to the ZDNet article, you should also link to Rapleaf’s response (which is a bit explanation and a whole lot of apology).

    Also, this isn’t about selling email addresses, it’s about the profiles. Knowing something about you based on the kinds of social networks you join and the information those networks make publicly available *about* you. Your email address is the least of it.

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