Hillel Fuld is turning the screw on the current digi darlings, Path and Pinterest, with his expose on their mercenary use of our data.
I looked at Pinterest on the back of the recent hype and decided a noticeboard of pandas helping each other up trees and pictures of lip balm, ‘hooker lip balm’ no less, were not for me. Also I’m a fanboy of other niche services out there catering to our pictorial amassing needs, such as The Fancy and Svpply.
I’m pleased they have increased traffic by a 1000% + in a year, but frankly, ‘meh’.
Path, is twinkling light in a polluted sea of UI and UX apps, but I’ve created an account and get a little baffled by it when I fire it up and then feel bad about neglecting Instagram which I love for reasons I can never fully articulate.
But what’s this story really about? Path pull and store our address book, which everyone seems to agree isn’t a crime and ultimately contributes to the stunning user experience. But it didn’t tell us it was doing this. It’s at this point and reflecting on our own data use with WorkFu that I pause and think, when exactly were we going to be made aware of this? After we add a profile pic? Which other apps flag this? Facebook is obtuse in it’s data capture, Google is all encompassing and ulitmately all this data we’re handing over is for our own benefit. More targeted ads for stuff we don’t need, freaky rotating images of shoes we’re looking at on other sites, or in my case suggestions of self-help books to consume alongside pictures of nubile swimwear models (Facebook, I’m looking at you!).
This revelation, if it is that, is only news to the elements of the tech community that use 'parse' in their daily conversations (disclaimer: I do). It also assumes the worst of Path, ie that they’ll rip, repurpose and pawn our data when really if we bothered to read the small print of think about it, we kinda knew this was happening and didn’t much care.
Beautiful UX and flagging what they do with your data, do not go hand-in-hand.
Then there’s Pinterest, messing with our meta data to line their own pockets. Again, let’s pause, ‘our data’, wtf! it’s not ours, we’re populating their platform for them with data, in the same way we populate Facebook, we’re data inputing interns who get the perk of hanging out with other fellow inputers and guffawing at their inputs. No more, no less.
The economic beauty and brutality of the social web is luring us into behaving like happy smiling interns to make our bossess billionaires and their decorators multi-millionaires. Were we naive enough to think free meant free? Path and Pinterest to differing degrees are just being smart and they’d be smarter still if they acknowledged the gathering storm, but also kept in mind that it’s only really the tech parsers who care and not the 999% increase in traffic.
“The industry is dynamic. Tools change. Skillsets wither. Networks get stale. Companies pivot. But the fundamentals never go out of style - pick your keywords carefully, and you can’t go too far wrong.”—Michael Wolfe