It’s My Data, Not Yours Best Friend

I love my friends, I really, really, really do, but sometimes I just want to do the “Leroy Jethro Gibbshead slap  against their tiny little brains for doing the things they do on the Internets (yes I know it’s misspelled) and even begin to include me in their “mistakes”  of giving out their own data to services I’m guess known of us know what their privacy policy states.

What am I speaking of? Ever get one of those invites to a service that has no relevance to you as a person, or your location, or your likes, but a friend thought you might like it and as such they gave them your email address or mobile number?

I get them ALL time. Most recent one saying come join a new network of people even though they aren’t in my locality which is sort of a requirement to get use out of this particular service. Now, I know some of you are saying that you get use out of joining some of these online services and I do too as well. Things like the social platforms we were invited to see our friends lives on or even things that impact my career. However, there are some services out there that still make it to easy for people to upload their ENTIRE address books or other PII that doesn’t belong to them and allow the user not to even give a thought of will the recipient/friend even want to see this offer?addressbook

In their defense, most of these services have a unsubscribe function to stop further invites from being sent to you and in some cases it does work and others…meeahh…I still get invites directly from the service at that point wanting me to join. However, I’m never given the opportunity or purview to know that my data was kept, wasn’t kept, kept securely, or even sold….considering I wasn’t the one who accepted the challenge to upload my address book up the Internets and see the privacy policy.

Few pieces of advice for services that offer sharing options:

  1. STOP full address book uploads. Just don’t allow them!!! You have no idea just how much data in people’s address books is old and active. Also, not fair to people like myself who didn’t give the address to be shared. It was meant for a one to one communication with that person. To make this even worse is that Canada’s CASL won’t allow you to obtain permission by even sending an email before the recipient themselves signed up. If you want to add a share function, then require the user to give reason like locality and make them do it one by one 🙂 Recognize that this data isn’t your user’s data for you to request.
  2. Don’t store it. If it’s not the user’s data to upload, it sure as hell isn’t yours to keep. Make sure that in these cases, this data is NEVER sold or used for any other purpose then inviting the person to join the network. If they unsubscribe from the invite notices then remove them from the database and never keep the address. Keep the aggregate reporting for proof of unsubscribing, but rid the profile.

Few pieces of advice for users (oversharers)

  1. Think about your friends privacy and how about their sanity even for that matter. Apply the generation test, would you do this to your grandmother? Would you like it to be done to you? Would you expose your relatives information to a unknown service that I bet you didn’t read the privacy policy too?
  2. Remember, you are friends and that’s great, but not everyone shares the same opinion, likes, dislikes, or other personal attributions that make you, well you. So again, will all 1,000 email contacts you have in your address book be relevant to this offer you want to share? Probably not and you just gave their email address to a service that might abuse it.

Listen, I’m not advocating that sharing buttons be banished here. I think they are great if you know the user will want to see or use this service. Just don’t fall into this pit of I have to upload my ENTIRE address book to the site to get my friends attention. If that is the case, then your dealing with the wrong service and should walk away. Tell your friends in an email or Facebook post about it and let them decided for themselves if they want to join and if so, what data do they want to upload.

I would like to see more services do it how car connection service UBER does. UBER gives everyone the customized option of creating a special identity code and ability to share via social networks or through the users OWN email client, not by uploading your entire address book. This is how mine looks from UBER; “Dennis has invited you to try Uber. You get $30 off your first ride with the promo code ‘uberdennisdayman‘. <— go ahead and click that… it does work and is a nice service that I use, also if you do sign-up I get some free rides as well. Just preaching my hyper-transparency motto. 😉

Your address book isn’t really yours to upload to begin with. Think about what your address book actually is. It’s a collection of information that is usually non-public that others have trusted you with. When you agree to upload an address book to the masses, you ignore this mish-mosh collection of agreements and are treating that data as if it’s yours, when it absolutely isn’t.

When one gives their contact information to a friend or colleague, there’s an unspoken agreement. This information is premium, proprietary goods, with an agreement that reads “I’m giving this to you because you’ve earned it and I trust you. I’m not giving it to others, because they haven’t and I don’t. Let’s keep it that way.”

Anyways, be thoughtful here folks. That’s all I’m asking. Now I need to do unsubscribing from a few emails this weekend. Seems like someone was bored on their end and signed me up for a few things.



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