The Dark Side of Open APIs: Privacy exposed

February 3, 2008 at 2:54 pm | Posted in privacy | Leave a comment
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Le faux frog just wrote a piece similar to my 30boxes item.

I’m starting to resent some web services that allow users to find friends by entering their e-mail addresses. Why? That feature can be handy but Flickr and Twitter go too far and allow access to e-mail addresses that have not been explicitly marked public. Futhermore, any webcrawler can use those e-mail addresses to generate profiles of people by making a simple API call.

Spokeo crossed my radar this week after I read about it in Newsweek. I’m not interested in monitoring my friends’ activities across dozens of online communities and social networks but I created an account anyway and entered my e-mail address to see what information about me was freely available. I’d recommend periodically doing the same type of thing on Google. I’ve always called it “ego surfing” but the term never really caught on.

To my surprise, Spokeo listed all of my photos on Flickr and all of my tweets on Twitter during the past two weeks. That felt like a violation of my privacy.

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