Joho the Blog » Apparently, I joined Plaxo.

Apparently, I joined Plaxo.

I received a surprise email from Plaxo today, updating me on the status of my account. I’d forgotten I’d once joined, in the spirit of adventure.

So, I went to the Plaxo site where they’ve prominently posted reassuring information about their privacy policy. I found where I can opt out of receiving update requests, although it results in the following almost-funny error message:

The e-mail address you are trying to opt-out from (self@evident.com) has already been claimed by another user (possibly you). You will not be able to opt-out at this time.

(A search of their knowledge base turns up this page with information about quitting.)

Plaxo is taking the bad publicity about privacy concerns seriously. There’s a whole bunch of information about it on their site, most of it written in a straightforward and reassuring way. And, I have no reason to think that Plaxo is any less trustworthy than the other folks I give sensitive information to. Nevertheless, the table of how they compare on privacy to MSN, AOL, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay gives me pause. Only one company — Plaxo — gets a checkmark for “Provides opt-out mechanism for non-members.” Try to get your brain around that concept!

9 Responses to “Apparently, I joined Plaxo.”

  1. What on earth could a non-member have to opt out of?

    Ouch… just thinking about it makes my head hurt… :-)

  2. You’ll notice the checkmark comes under the section of Communications.

    All of us (Plaxo, MSN, AOL, YAHOO, Amazon, and eBay) provide the ability for a member of our respective services to send a communications via the service to someone who may not be a member. For Plaxo – a member might send you an Update Request; for Amazon – you might receive a “Tell a Friend” message; for eBay – a member may send you a “Email This Item to a Friend” message, etc.

    Any of these messages may be welcomed or unwelcomed by the recipient. But Plaxo is the only service that allows the recipient to block future messages sent to them by members through the service. We provide non-members the ability to “opt-out” of messages from a specific user, or from all Plaxo members entirely.

    I’m personally not a great fan of the term “opt-out” as it seems to be a misnomer in this case. I prefer “Do not e-mail”, but we use “opt-out” because is more universally understood by most users.

    Thanks for letting me jump in and your earlier comments.

    Stacy Martin
    Plaxo Privacy Officer
    privacy @t Plaxo.com

  3. I LOVE the feature that lets me, a non-member, tell Plaxo that I don’t need emails from their members asking for updates. It makes perfect sense to US.

  4. Thanks for the clarification, Stacy.

  5. Plaxo – opt-out or remove from database

    David Weinberger has written about trying to opt-out of plaxo. Plaxo Privacy Officer commented that non-members could opt-out of receiving emails. That is nice but not enough. As long as non-members cannot remove themselves from Plaxo their privacy is …

  6. Time for a law that requires plaxo to switch to an opt-in mode, i.e. nobody can store your info in a plaxo address book and plaxo can’t send you any email unless you give them prior permission to do so.

  7. So would that law also apply to people who store the contact information of others in their online address book with services such as Yahoo!, AOL, Amazon, and for that matter any other ISP, web-mail, or service provider that allows the user to maintain contact within the service? How is someone utilizing Plaxo to manage contact information different from using any other web-based service?

    Also, to be clear – Plaxo does not process any emails to a Plaxo member’s contact without the action and approval of the Plaxo member. Plaxo does not send messages processed through our service. The Plaxo member has complete control over when, to whom, and the personalized content of any message sent through Plaxo. Plaxo simply processes the member’s instructions and any responses they may receive similar to a Yahoo! mail user sending a message through that service.

    Are you suggesting there should be a law stating that people must first get the permission of another before they may send them a message the person has initiated, personalized, and approved?

  8. Let me see if I understand this: There is a service called “Plaxo” that will keep my contacts updated by sending e-mails to people that have changed there e-mail address. Ohhhhh my head hurts!!!!!! If I dont have the correct e-mail address how in the hell does Plaxo? On the other side, I that if I dont want Plaxo to have my e-mail address or receive e-mails from Plaxo? I have to go there site and enter my e-mail address….. Oh the pain in my head is growing. Where is the logic in all of this? If I have an old e-mail address of a business acquaintance ie.. tom@yahoo.com and he changed to tomsmith@yahoo.com. An e-mail will be sent to the new guy tom@yahoo.com and he just might reply with his information. Now just for giggles lets say the new guy just happens to work for a competitor of Tom Smith. I blindly relied on Plaxo to update Tom Smiths information correctly, so I proceed to sent tom@yahoo.com inside information, like a price list for his company. Only problem is this price list is a special list with Tom Smith only pricing. Now the new Tom has information he has no right to, and uses that to reduce the price of his goods. Or undercut Tom Smith because he now knows what prices Tom Smith is paying. Ohh the pain!!!!
    Tell me again why is Plaxo good?

  9. Stacy, Is it your full-time job to respond to blogs that suggest Plaxo might not be the best idea for managing contact info? I think if people realized that all day long you are searching the web for negative press to respond to, they might not be so impressed with your canned responses.

    You post basically the same invalid points over and over again everywhere I look.

    Stop trying to legitimize your services by comparing yourself to other services such as Yahoo, MSN, etc.

    I use the mentioned services, but only for personal email (who’s addresses get abandoned every couple years due to spam).

    I use my work address for work… while corresponding with people who have work addresses, not Hotmail or Yahoo. That’s why I don’t want it on Plaxo. Nobody reputable uses these services for business email.

    All I would like is for Plaxo to TELL someone that I have refused the service when they try to update my information. Instead, they just black-hole the message if I’m “opted-out”. The person on the other end is left to assume that I got their message, but chose not to respond.

    Stacy told me that they do not have that capability. If that’s the case, how capable are they of protecting the countless emails stored on their ONLINE servers? They have been exploited in the past, and are too good a target to avoid it in the future.

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