Scrupuli

blunt essays with sharp points

Snapfish Tricks Confidential Information Out Of Visitors

by Scrvpvlvs
Mar 13, 2008 5:09 PM–An invitation to view a friend’s private photo album reads: “(Friend’s name) has created an account on Snapfish for you. Please enter your name, email address and password to access your account.” Snapfish then prompts for full name, e-mail address, password, and retype password.

It’s a classic confidence game. Snapfish creates a pretext for the need for your real name. You are being led to believe that what you enter is being compared with information your friend gave them already. There seems to be no harm in logging in to an account that has already been created. Bull Shit, as we say in my state. Snapfish is setting up the account now. It’s you, not your friend, who is giving up your real name.

Earlier, they created a pretext for your friend to give up your e-mail address. You know that worked, because the e-mail came from Snapfish. Your friend was led to believe that the appropriate way to protect the confidentiality of the photo album is to give away confidential information about you. And that is false. I’ll look at how Flickr, the Yahoo property, handles this in a moment.

First, I want to avoid a possible misunderstanding about my amazement with Snapfish. While I don’t like being required to sign up before I can see my friend’s photo album, I do accept it. That’s not the con. E-mail addresses are valuable. Any site has every right to ask for an e-mail address in payment for locked content. It’s up to me to decide whether the release of personal information is worth it to unlock the content. My complaint is not about requesting personal information but about the pretexts.

So about Flickr. It does not play this confidence game. When I share a private photo album with a friend, I supply zero information about my friend to Flickr. Instead, Flickr supplies me with a guest pass in the form of a web address. The guest pass is valid until I choose to expire it, and I can deliver it any way I like to anyone I like. My friends remain anonymous.

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