If you are starting a social networking site, it can be tempting to take advantage of the power of third-party APIs to build your membership.
That’s the approach taken by The Whuffie Bank, and intriguing effort to measure online reputation. Using publicly-available profiles from Twitter and Facebook, they track your public activity on social networks and analyze your online “reputation.”
Neat idea, but lousy execution.
They claim “6,023,053″accounts on their home page, but it seems most people are surprised — and many angry — when they discover their accounts have already been created for them. Back in the day, we used to call this scraping.
The Whuffie Bank is all about online reputation, yet they are creating a poor reputation for themselves by scraping profiles without asking, or at least inviting, and then hiding behind fine print when people ask their profile be removed.
There’s no way to delete your account, and when users complain on their site, they’re reminded “the information that we use is of public domain and you agreed to this point when signing up for Twitter.”
Wow. Thanks for playing…
I get their point: My Twitter profile is public, and maybe in their fine print it’s legal, but that’s no way to build your own reputation. A lot of things are public, but to pull them into a new site without warning, and to create an “account” on someone’s behalf (which implies cooperation) is going to far, in my opinion.
They say they’re developing a delete function, but for now users will have to put up with it.
The irony is that they’re pulling in any mentions of their name from Twitter (screencap on the left), and judging from random comments, their own online reputation is starting to suck.