I truly believe that anything you post on the web is public. Privacy ‘walls’ can only get you so far. Enter Rapleaf – a ‘big data’ company. They are basically, in the words of Om Malik, “the provider of the FICO score about an email address.” They trawl the web for information about you, through your email address, and build a social profile to gauge who you are and how valuable you might be to interested parties. As an example, they do not access LinkedIn’s API, but they gather info about you on your public page. So even though LinkedIn does not sell your information to third parties, Rapleaf is able to acquire quite a lot of data about you by manually pulling the data. This article is a great read about the company, Rapleaf, and some of their potentially less tasteful tactics employed in gathering your email’s FICO score. For those of you afraid of Facebook, I think your fear is misplaced – you should fear more the wealth of information about you on the internet through a large number of sources, not just Facebook.
Do you think your information should be publicly available like this? Are ‘big data’ companies, like Rapleaf, going too far?