Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Spock.com: a little evil

I just had an disconcerting experience from the website Spock.com. They want to be the 'Google, of People search' according to CEO Jaideep Singh.

But I have my doubts.

Not that it's not a good idea, but more because of the tactics they use to get information.

I signed up for it a few months ago when it first went public. Cool. Interesting. Didn't work very well yet but to be expected for a brand new/beta system.

I checked it out again last night and it had a new 'check for your friends' feature that allows you to import your email address book and find people you know on Spock. Nothing overly odd there, lots of sites do this.

What's not good, is how they misrepresented what they were doing.

I went ahead and had them check my gmail address book. It came back with 'found X profiles on Spock, would you like to connect?'

Not invite, connect. At least, that was the implication (I don't remember the exact phrasing).


Well, it proceeded to send out emails to all those people with ME as the sender asking them to join Spock.

Turns out they didn't have accounts already. They just had what appears to be spidered profiles scraped off the internet and aggregated on Spock.

What they did with me was use my name and contact list to 'validate' those profiles and get the users to log into Spock without really telling me what they were doing. They implied that these people already had profiles and I was just adding them to my network.

Instead they effectively conned me into letting them use my name to get a bunch of people to sign up for a service I'm not sure I'll use, let alone recommend. Actually, I can tell you now: I do not recommend them.

This is slightly evil, maybe even a bit more.

So, to my friends and associates: I'm sorry. I was suckered. You can bet it won't happen again.


Anonymous said...

Apology accepted. But it's more than slightly evil. When I got the email from you (a trusted source) I created an account (stupid me). When I realized what had happened, I went back to the site to delete my account...ummm, no, not that easy. I can be dense, of course. But then again I can be pretty savvy about such things. No simple way to delete the account. Damn, I thought, now that relatively "clean" email account--the one they'd scraped and sent me an invite to connect on your behalf and without your permission or knowledge--would be spammed relentlessly. So, clever boy that I am, I found my account preference settings, reset everything to receive no email...zero, zip, nada AND created a new email account (at some flippin' freebie webmail place that I would never use), then loaded THAT account as my primary account and pointed ALL communication there. I wish there were a way to delete my original, "real" email account...I'll look again this morning. But, I'd say, maybe the spock.com folks weren't intentionally evil but they are definitely more than "a little" evil.

Scott Converse said...


Man, I feel bad. This rarely happens to me; I can usually spot a ruse like this pretty easily. Based on my experience and what you're saying, it sounds like they are, indeed, more than a little evil.

I'd say to everyone: Stay the hell away from Spock.com. Spock.com appears to use deceptive and underhanded practices (on par with spyware, in my opinion) to first trick people into revealing their social graph and then 'gluing down' the friends of associates of the people they've deceived.

And I agree with Jerry here. Making it impossible to delete your account is, indeed, more than a little evil.

Anonymous said...

It seems to be easy to get your account deleted. All I had to do was to tag several dozen climate alarmists with a "climate alarmist" tag; and several dozen climate realists with a "climate realist" tag. You could try similar with tags like "pseudoscientist", "liar" or whatever.

An excellent read from an ex-evangelical.

  As you know, I once was an evangelical megachurch pastor and my pastoral career stretched over many years. Eventually, I could no longer t...