Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Zoosk Suit Riot: Why I'm seriously considering deleting my Facebook account

My friend and I are creating an online video speed dating site with trusted individuals based on the outer nodes of your Facebook social network. It's called Captivix, and it's going to be awesome.

I have a significant other. (You'll see why this is relevant in a moment.)

Understandably, to build a video speed dating service, one needs to do market research. I went on Zoosk.com and then used their Facebook app. I concluded that Zoosk was quite sketchy, which further reinforced my belief that our site has a niche. Moving on to research other services, I removed the app's permissions on Facebook and while I was of course warned that whatever data I had already shared with Zoosk would remain, I considered the matter closed.

Unsurprisingly, I continued to receive several annoying emails from them over the ensuing days, but that's par for the course given Facebook's Terms of Service. I had repeated messages from random men even though I didn't have a profile on Zoosk at all, and best of all, I was informed by Zoosk that one of my pictures hadn't met their appropriate-ness criteria and needed to be taken down (even though I had no pictures on my Zoosk profile nor had even put any up). But whatever.

The real issue came this morning when my friend sent me a screenshot of a sponsored ad (pictured below) on her Facebook feed stating that I had used Zoosk.




Now, it's possible that buried somewhere in the Terms of Service that I've agreed to on Facebook, it says that companies whose apps I used are allowed to continue to use my data to customize ads even after I've revoked permissions from those apps. But, how can that be ok? What's the point of allowing me to revoke permissions in the first place then?!

I realize that a lot of activity on social networks cannot be "taken back" or made private once they occur, and I'm not an anti-Facebook extremist. I like Facebook. I even own their stock! While I might be mildly annoyed that I can't for the life of me figure out how to delete my Klout account since I logged into it with Facebook, for me this Zoosk invasion of privacy by Facebook crosses the line.

So, did Facebook's stunt blow up my relationship?
My significant other happens to know about all my activity in the last few days, so I'm fine. However,
a) What are other people going to think of me if they get the same sponsored ad?
b) I learned recently that there is a dating website called Ashley Madison for married people to find 'others'. It apparently has over 17mm accounts. Not that such behavior should be encouraged, but it seems like the consequences of Facebook's actions could be big...