Scoble completely missed the point on Rapleaf

Shortly after I posted about Rapleaf, the company put out a long, involved explanation and apology on their blog. It was in direct response to this ZDnet article, but they also directly linked back to Marshall Kirkpatrick and me (and at the end, everyone else who blogged about it…smart way to say, “look, we answered!”).

Truthfully, I think they are legitimately trying to capitalize on a market they didn’t create and can’t control, but they went about it in the wrong way.

This morning, Robert Scoble joined in the conversation with a post entitled, “Rapleaf wants your email address.” He says:

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.

Email addresses? What is this, 1998? You would think the person who has pushed the social network concept to the edge with thousands of “friends” on all the services would immediately understand that this has nothing to do with selling email addresses.

How much spam do you read a day? Only people who sell Viagra and penny stocks care about buying email addresses. Now marketers (who aren’t automatically “evil”) want to target their efforts towards people who may actually listen. They want profiles in a nice and neat package, and Rapleaf and similar companies are figuring out ways of getting these marketers what they want. They want to target 40 year old men who like gladiator movies. Or, 50 year old women who may be interested in traveling around the world. Or kids just out of college who are looking for their first car.

Your Facebook, MySpace, Amazon, etc. profiles have that information. If you’re not careful with your privacy settings, thanks to companies and services like Rapleaf, these marketers have it too.

10 thoughts on “Scoble completely missed the point on Rapleaf

  1. Hi Judy…I’ve been following the Rapleaf stuff for the past couple of days….

    Rapleaf’s only part of the problem–there’s also the idea of “lifestreams” (as Steve Rubel wrote about)

    and there have been other marketing related services that have been gathering info and selling it for awhile. Back in December I wrote about Umbria’s “Umbria Connect” program, which was/is filtering blogs, gathering up the urls, and then selling the urls (in lots of 25) to marketers. You can check it out here: http://www.umbrialistens.com/products/connect.php

    So, what we’re seeing with Rapleaf and others is addressing the needs and desires of marketers–which then, in many ways, impacts our privacy. Because the competition for customers is fierce, and because there’s massive fear of life online (connected to loss of brand control) marketers want to go deeper into our online lives…the rhetoric being to serve us better….

    but is that really what’s going on? or is there something else to all of it?

    maybe there is.

    Yet perhaps we should think more about the “lifestreams” children might be creating online, just as much as we are concerned about our adult “lifestreams”. They’re more vulnerable than us in so many ways.

    Marketers will get our information from loads and loads of places–some companies are going to make it easier for them to get it.

  2. Great points, Tish.

    We are the ones who are putting this information “out there.” If we don’t want to be marketed based on that information, then I don’t think we can’t blame those companies that are simply compiling and packaging information that is already public.

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