Judi Sohn rips into the trustworthiness of both me and Plaxo for attempting to import email addresses, names, and birthdays.
First of all, just to make clear, I have NOT used any of the data I collected using Plaxo’s service. That all went into a separate test account and I’m not using that data and neither is Plaxo. Why not use it? Because of exactly the issues that Judi brings up. Trust.
Why do it? Well, I wanted to push Facebook’s buttons. I think it’s sad that they import email addresses and other data from Gmail and track my Blockbuster usage and use my adding my name to the Saturn page but they aren’t willing to share some of its data back out with these systems.
So, to Judi, why is it OK for Facebook to import all my Gmail email addresses? Why aren’t you screaming bloody murder about THAT? After all, did anyone on Gmail approve me to import their email addresses to Facebook?
On another similar, but tangental point.
What if I wrote down Judi’s email and then manually put it into my Outlook’s contact database. Wouldn’t that have been exactly the same thing that I tried to do with Plaxo’s script?
Second, if you add me as a friend I assume you want me to send you emails and interact with you. But, it’s clear that some of you didn’t really want me to do that when you added me as a friend. Maybe we need DRM for friends. Something with options like:
COMPLETELY OPEN: You’re allowed to take anything on my profile page and import it, use it, copy it, print it, import it.
EMAIL ONLY: You can only take my name, and email address to other systems.
EMAIL PLUS CORE PERSONAL INFO: In addition to email address and name you can also take my birthday and phone number to other systems.
CUSTOM: You choose which fields can be exported or used on other systems.
NAPKIN ONLY: You can use anything you want, but no automated systems, you’ve gotta manually copy everything over by hand.
PUBLIC ONLY: Only data that I put on my public profile can be used elsewhere.
FAN ONLY: I only wanted to see your social network and behaviors here, I don’t want to give you access to mine.
But, back to Judi: she asks what will Plaxo’s future owners do with the data it collects? Now THAT is a good question but I’m wondering the same thing about Facebook. Will they sell it to the government? Will they sell it to General Motors? Will they give it to their partners like Blockbuster?
The thing is, you shouldn’t worry too much about your friends. It’s easy to kick them in the butt if they sell you out. But what if Mark Zuckerberg sells you out? Or, even, decides to erase you for whatever reason he comes up with tomorrow? What then?
Oh, and to the few people who thought I had a financial arrangement with Plaxo, let me make this extremely clear: I disclose ALL financial arrangements with companies I use. I have NONE with Plaxo.
Is Plaxo a social monster for trying to import? That’s for you to decide, but why weren’t you all up in arms when Facebook imported your data and your friends email addresses from Gmail?