So I have a Gmail account. But I still encounter folks who say, “Oh… I don’t trust Gmail… I heard Google reads your email to show you ads.” And that’s pretty much the end of the conversation, as arguing privacy is dead, an algorithm does the reading, or the product’s many good points can’t overcome the icky feeling that the service puts the needs of the company ahead of the user.
And now we have the iPhone app Path, some social thing, that uploads the contents of your Address Book for some friend-finding purpose that’s supposed to be really great.
Problem is, I’ve used my Mac’s Address Book for years locally, well before the iPhone with no expectation that its contents would be shared. If that’s really true, it would totally change how I currently use it. And so Path’s comment (in comments below that post) that contact sharing is a current “best practice” among iPhone apps is deeply disturbing. Really? Maybe among trendy social app developers, but certainly not to end-users. If so, the more accurate term should be “worst-practice.” I’ve long assumed the Address Book contents were private and would expect to be asked permission before sharing.
So the end result is bad for Path. I’ve yet to download the app and am now unlikely to ever do so. The damage is done; whatever coolness this app provides is now tainted by the “icky feeling” – they care more about that contact list or my data than me as a user, so the service they provide is a shady cover, really. And that ickyness extends to other social apps until this issue is resolved – hopefully Apple will lock the address book down like location and fire an alert asking for explicit permission – at least once.
And in the future, possibly years from now, I look forward to aged relatives saying, “oh… I don’t want to download those app things… I hear they steal your address book and spam all your friends.”
Thanks for nothing, Path. You just made everyone – justifiably – a little more paranoid.
Update: Path is fixing things. Still not motivated to try the app anytime soon, though.