In what is quickly surpassing CAPTCHAs as the most annoying, and frightening part of registering for a new web service, we, as users are being asked to give up our email contacts in order to get more “friends” to use the service. I’ve been pondering this for a week or so, but Jeremy Zawodny summed up my feelings pretty well in his post about Spock:
That’s right. They want me to provide my username and password for the on-line services that may contain some of my most sensitive information, including: Gmail, Plaxo, Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL.
I can’t think of a very polite way to say “no fucking way”, so I won’t even try. There wasn’t a button for that.
Blame it on Facebook, Flixster, or whatever spam.. cough cough, I mean “viral marketing” success story there is out there that has led to this trend. I wish it would stop and I wish it would stop now. I have no problems with a service providing me some copy that I can send to my friends, or even let me put in some email addresses to send invites to. But asking for username and passwords to online email accounts is beginning to cross the line. How am I suppose to trust what you do with all of this information? I realize there is a “skip this step” in these examples, but note how small it usually is.
I admit I fell for this on Facebook and they found several people that were in my contacts, and it got me started. But that’s Facebook, one of the biggest sites on the web and they have little incentive to abuse the information. I have since wised up though and even that fact will not dupe me into falling for this again.
Here’s a quick look at some doing this in addition to facebook and spock: