Flowtown: Marketer’s dream, Web User’s scare

Geo tagging, open commenting, public profiles: but where is all your online information is going?

Flowtown created an email marketing service that mines your email database and collects their public information from across the web.

The result is a marketer’s dream. Create more targeted email campaigns from more detailed demographic information

For users? Well… caveat emptor. Let the web user beware.

If you are joining social websites and communities or commenting across the web, then your data is out there.

Bruce Houghton sums it up in his post.

It all sounds a little bit like invasion of privacy
until you remember that every bit of
information that Flowtown gathers was
knowingly posted by the user on the social web.

Not the most comforting statement. The point above is half made.

It’s not that it “sounds” like an invasion of privacy it is a violation of a user’s privacy for they did not voluntarily consent to have their social profile information to be used in this manner. Users in email marketer’s email lists did not “opt in” to allow their their social network information to be used.

So clearly web users would feel uncomfortable or violated, and even marketers commenting on the post “feel” uncomfortable knowing their information is being used without their consent.

So what privacy rights do web users have over who uses your information? Houghton is right- none.

If you do not check your privacy and personal settings in social web services to “opt out” of certain options that publicize your profile information or list you in web searches, then you by default have allowed these services to do so.

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1 Response to “Flowtown: Marketer’s dream, Web User’s scare”


  1. 1 Dan Martell May 2, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Amos,

    The internet is at an inflection point when it comes to users and their data. Were very sensitive to any user that feel uncomfortable with our service and provide a global opt-out so that non of our customers can retrieve their data.

    As you mentioned – all we provide is essentially an efficient google search and aggregation process .. it’s all public data that shows up in search results that can be used by anyone to leverage in marketing campaigns if they choose too.

    I appreciate the post and continuing the conversation.

    @danmartell
    Co-Founder
    Flowtown


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