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.