AOL To Integrate Plaxo -- Get Ready For Plaxo Spam Influx

from the oh-great dept

Uh oh. For those who remember, the September that never ended was when AOL users were suddenly let loose on Usenet, and what was once useful, was filled with a ton of somewhat clueless posters who made it difficult to filter through the muck. Today, AOL announced plans to integrate Plaxo's tools into AIM. Considering the amount of Plaxo spam that already is out there, do we really need to make it even easier to bug people every few months about their contact info? Almost all of the Plaxo spam I receive is from people I do not know. I don't know why I'm in their address book -- and I don't know why they've told Plaxo they know me. So, do we really need millions of AOL users who don't quite realize that they're about to spam everyone they ever spoke to, and handing them a tool to do so? Update: A Plaxo representative has given an in-depth rebuttal in the comments that's worth reading. I still find the claim that you only get spammed if you're a "non-Plaxo member" to be a bit disingenuous. It's telling me if I only signed up, I'd avoid these messages. However, the other points made are certainly valid, and clearly Plaxo is making a big effort to deal with some of the early complaints about the service. The note also points out that (thankfully!) part of the AOL agreement is that the initial process of spamming everyone you know has been removed from the startup wizard -- so hopefully the results won't be quite so annoying for those of us who prefer not to use their service.

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  1. identicon
    Stacy Martin, 7 Jul 2005 @ 10:57am

    Re: Getting the facts correct about Plaxo and AOL

    So Coward, are you saying you would prefer a company that does not listen to the feedback of users or try to publicly address questions or concerns people may have??? You prefer a company that requires users to come to their site to voice a problem, and perhaps doesn't respond to support or abuse tickets???

    If so, I'm sorry but that is not how Plaxo operates. For us, part of the philosophy of operating in an open and transparent fashion means responding to the feedback and comments of both Plaxo members and non-Plaxo members. That feedback doesn't always make it to our doorsteps, but fortunately through word of mouth and tools like Bloglines, we can be proactive and reach out. Certainly, I've got other things I could be doing, but I feel it is important to add to the conversation where their is value I feel I can add or assistance I can provide. My goal is not to sway people's opinion, but rather just make sure they have the proper facts so they can decide for themselves. I'm sorry if this does not meet with your expectations.

    As for the opt-out link, if you look at my previous post, I did mentioned that in processing each message, we ensure there is the opt-out link in every message sent through our system. The recipient can choose to block messages from a specific Plaxo member or all Plaxo members, depending on their preference. The Opt-out link is also avaible on our Support site, and I've published it many times in my own postings. People can go to it directly at:

    But I'm sure you noted, the link only works for a specific email address and there may be people who wish to take action for their entire domain. If I'm looking at it from an administrator's perspective that didn't want to receive Plaxo messages, then this would actually seem to be MORE effective.

    As for why there is no "opt-in", as I explained before, we are simply the email service provider and not the sender of the message. Do you require Yahoo! to provide an opt-in before a Yahoo! member may send you an email through their service? AOL? MSN? gMail? How is sending a message through Plaxo different from sending a message through these services? We all have Acceptable Use Policies that prohibit spam and we all process messages based on the instructions of the member. Simply because the focus of our services are different, does not change the manner in which we all operate.

    But unlike these other service providers, we provide the ability for you to block further messages sent through the service and report abuse. Personally, I feel that is the action of a responsible service provider, but perhaps I am in the minority here.

    As for you comment about not caring very much about people's privacy, this seems more like a personal attack and nothing worth responding to. Privacy for both Plaxo members and non-members is my primary job. We follow some of the most stringent privacy practices in use by an service. This matrix compares Plaxo's privacy practices with other well-known and reputable Internet services including Yahoo!, AOL, MSN, eBay, and Amazon. But if you any specific concerns about how you feel we are failing in this respect, please let me know and I will be happy to respond.


    Stacy Martin
    Plaxo Privacy Officer
    privacy @t

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