Category Archives: awareness

MyAKA C&D from Intelius

Good Times: When Intelius Threatens to Sue

Intelius, chief among stalker websites, once threatened to sue me.  Here’s why.

Prior to launching MyAKA we entered beta with a few trusted partners and visions of a successful Google Adwords campaign.  Naturally we added targeted terms such as ‘second number’, ‘private number’, ‘alias number’, etc… but thought there must be a way to also gain some creative lift.

Being that MyAKA was created as a means to combat stalker websites like Spokeo and Intelius (and the hoards of others) I thought what better way to reach the people who need our services than to target these purveyors of privacy invasion.  And so, we setup a number of campaigns targeting keyword terms which these enablers of creep bid on, such as “how do I find someones address”, “locate (insert name)”, “Where does (insert name) live?” or work or hangout or…you get the point.  Then it dawned on me.  The people who are entering these terms are the creeps, perverts and stalkers who are trying to track someone down and find where the live.  We don’t want to associate with this riff-raff, we need to reach their intended targets.  But how?

We decided to bid on the company names such as “intelius”, “spokeo”, “white pages”, “people finders”, etc…  The idea was that people would be trying to find out how someone, such as a complete stranger, found out where they lived and showed up at their doorstep to harass them (or worse).  They would find the names of these companies, search for them and our ads would be displayed telling them how to mitigate the stalkers best friend.

Within 2 hours of our ads going live, legal from Intelius sent me a C&D.

Now, I realize that bidding on another’s company name or TM isn’t proper etiquette but I felt that exposing their practices was more important than playing nice.  I thought it very interesting how quickly they responded but also, what a great way to get the word out about these creeps and what we’re doing to try and harm their privacy invasion business.

I consulted with our attorney and, shock and horror, they’ve been involved in a number of lawsuits where they were the plaintiff gripping about this and that. Color me dismayed that a company which sells peoples private information to complete strangers is also a lawsuit troll. I was quoted mid-five figures to defend a lawsuit and, as a boot-strapped startup, we couldn’t fund the defense so I decided to take the ad down and look to raise awareness to their shenanigans through other means (like blogging!).

If only I’d been as clever as The Oatmeal and raised attention to their shitty business the world would be a much better place.

I’m sorry I let you down world.  You too, dear reader(s).

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Why do we keep enabling keyboard warriors

The Keyboard Warrior Goes Mobile

Why do we keep enabling the keyboard warrior?

I just read an article by Jordan Crook at TechCrunch about yet another gossip thingie called Leak which lets you send an email anonymously.  You know, so you don’t need to put your name to some bullshit you want to send to another.  Or, as she so eloquently put it, “totally mess with their head.”

Near as I can tell, it’s another spin on Secret or Whisper and another way in which people can avoid all responsibility for or repercussions of their actions.  Their actions generally being talking nonsense about others, companies, co-workers and the like.  What possible good can come of services like this and why do people continue thinking up ways to enable keyboard warriors?  Oh, I know, because VC’s pay for installs.

There are obviously some smart people behind these thingies (I refuse to call them products or services) and surely they could put those brains to use figuring out bigger problems than how to brag about getting laid on the copy machine or complaining about the food in your office cafeteria without anyone knowing it’s you doing the ghostwriting.

Anonymity for Good, Not Gossip.

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Foursquare moves on from the checkin

Death to the Check-in (one can hope)

I was reading Christina Warren’s article on Foursquare’s transition from stalking tool…I mean check-in app…to Yelp clone and couldn’t help but hope that this is the end of the check-in.  I realize they moved this to their new app Swarm and that Facebook still enables this sort of feature but enough is enough.

I believe we all need to assume a certain level of personal responsibility but technology companies also have a responsibility to develop products that, I don’t know, don’t put us in eminent danger.  Foursquare and their check-in nonsense was about as great a risk to personal safety as one can imagine.  Encouraging people to share with the world and every knucklehead in it exactly where you are grabbing a coffee early in the morning or drink late at night is insanity.  And let’s not forget how haphazardly they treated this data by allowing open access to their API and the birth of the Girls Around Me app.  Only after significant outcry did they button up the API.

I don’t know whether their version of Yelp will be a success but feel, as Christina points out, they’re a bit late to the game and Yelp is so synonomous that they have an awful lot of catching up to do.  I’m just happy to see them moving away from the check-in centric model and hope this is the end of a ridiculous and dangerous trend.

Stop checking in, good people.  If not for me, then for the children.

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#VoicesHavePower Verizon Helps Dating and Domestic Violence Prevention

Verizon Wireless has launched a HopeLine program called Voices Have Power through which they will donate $3 for every message of hope to help support dating and domestic violence awareness initiatives.  They have created a social hashtag of #VoicesHavePower to help raise awareness to the campaign and provide additional support.

From the website:

“Through Voices Have Power, every one of us can share our unique voice and take part in the national effort to put an end to this issue. For every message of hope submitted by someone such as yourself, we will donate $3 toward supporting proven and innovative dating and domestic violence prevention programs produced by our national and local campaign partners. Here are the ways a message of hope can be shared:

1. On your favorite social, share a message of hope on your favorite social network with the hashtag #VoicesHavePower

2. On your phone, text a message of hope to #94079

3. On voiceshavepower.com, write or select a previously generated message of hope”

Verizon has been a longtime supporter of sexual assault and domestic violence awareness, support and education initiatives, including a current partner in this program, Break the Cycle.

This is an excellent campaign and well worth the time it will take you to text a quick message of support and share with those you know.

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