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, 6 Jul 2005 @ 11:30pm

    Re: Getting the facts correct about Plaxo and AOL

    I agree that just because someone has your contact information does not mean you want to keep in touch with them, nor does it give them the right to attempt to contact you. As I mentioned, Plaxo members are expected to respect the privacy of their contacts, and this would include not contacting people who are unlikely to recognize the Plaxo contact as a known contact. Failure to do so, may be considered abuse and result in the removal of the person from the Plaxo service. Reports of potential abuse can be reported to our Abuse department at abuse @t plaxo.com.

    But I also want to make sure it is clear that when someone sends you an update request, they have done this manually. They've used Plaxo to select who they wish to a message to, decided what information of their own they wish to send to you (as a v-card attachment), and personalize the message they send. We do provide some default text the member may choose to use, but the member can personalize the text to their own preference if they wish. Members are encouraged to personalize their message. The message is then sent through our service and processed before being delivered.

    Of course the member could have sent a similar message outside of Plaxo, but they have chosen to use Plaxo to streamline the process. By first processing the message, we are able filter out messages non-Plaxo members have instructed us to block, we can ensure the messages do not include any unsafe attachments, and provide a more efficient mechanism for people to respond.

    I'll be the first to admit that Plaxo may not for everyone. But our goal is to provide a respected and valued service that both Plaxo members and non-Plaxo members can trust. We strive to operate in an open and transparent manner and allow people to decide for themselves. This approach has proven success for establishing business relationships with companies such as Yahoo!, Cisco, and now AOL. But if you've determined that Plaxo is not appropriate for your needs, you may wish to read our blog article Is it time to update your block list???

    Regards,

    Stacy Martin
    Plaxo Privacy Officer
    privacy @t plaxo.com

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