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Why I Don’t Do Social Networking Sites

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On February 21, 2005 @ 4:00 pm In Web/Tech | Comments Disabled

Time for a bit of a rant:

"Its not you, it’s me" [1]


So said George Costanza, and I second the notion. Please do not be insulted when I turn down your request for one of the social networking sites. Really, "its not you, it’s me." 

Actually, its neither of us, but that’s hardly amusing. Several times a week, I get an invite to some social networking [2] site: Plaxo [3], Friendster [4], MySpace [5], Orkut [6], 43Things [7], Spoke [8], Leverage Software [9], Zero Degrees [10], SelectMinds [11] and LinkedIn [12].

Kevin Bacon [13] may be six degrees [14] away from everyone else [15], but I don’t need to be. More importantly, I do not want to entrust my data (precious data) to a start up firm — or Microsoft for that matter. (Google, maybe — but thats where I draw the line).

Indeed, I refuse to participate in any and all of these sites, and with good reason.


I think its safe to say that the marketplace does not have space for 9 (nine!) of these companies. And I probably missed some. Eventually, there may be some consolidation -we see it starting already. That means two things:  One, I have no idea where my personal data and address book will ultimately end up, what company or person; and B) the liklihood is that at least 2 but more likely 3 and probably 4 and maybe even 5, and quite possibly 6 of these firms will go belly up, the long dirt nap, buy a farm.

And when that happens, the VC’s investments will be worth zero, nada, zilch, and they will seek to recoup something, anything, even just pennies on the dollar (pretty please?). And then the vultures will come in: strip the offices down to the bare walls, sell everything thats not moving for pennies on the dollar. Aeron Chairs (ha!), PCs, desks, wall cabinets, EVERYTHING.

And when that happens, when the Bankruptcy Judge brings down the gavel, the most valuable asset these companies have — all of my personal info, plus all of your contact info, plus every person you know’s name/number/email address — will be sold to the highest bidder. They may promise that they will protect your data, but I simply do not believe they can control anything post banckruptcy.  The contracts are ignored.

And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that the buyer will be a bigtime spammer. That’s right: I bet that some of the data that you have so willingly forked over to these new social networking firms will be sold to a spammer. That’s why I suggest you update your own damned address book.

No thanks . . .


UPDATE   March 27, 2005 5:24pm

This spam scam is circulating, preying on  (what do you know!) Social Networking sites:

Subject: Ringo

Finally got around to checking this, and it may be of interest to others.  It came from a friend a month or so ago, and I haven’t had a chance to speak to him yet, but it’s clearly something that should be avoided.

This falls in the same category as e-cards.  Seems like a nice easy and convenient service, but when you "send" the e-card, you’re giving out somebody’s email address to a big black hole.  Who knows how many places the address and other info are stored, or who has access to it..

This Ringo thing is a spammers mother lode — an organized, up-to-date email database.  We have enough problems with private info being hacked into, without offering even more of it up for grabs.  It doesn’t take much effort to keep an address book up to date, or to notify friends of address changes; and nobody else needs to get involved.

Just a FYI,


I’m updating my address book.  Please click on the link below and enter your contact info for me:


I’m using a new, free service where I put in my contact info for you, you put in your contact info for me, and everyone stays up to date automatically.  It’s surprisingly easy and useful.

It was inevitable that the spammers and scammers would get around to spoofing/phishing via these networks.

Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2005/02/why-i-dont-do-social-networking-sites/

URLs in this post:

[1] "Its not you, it’s me": http://www.stanthecaddy.com/its-not-you-its-me-discuss.html

[2] social networking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_networking

[3] Plaxo: http://www.Plaxo.com

[4] Friendster: http://www.Friendster.com

[5] MySpace: http://www.MySpace.com

[6] Orkut: http://www.ritholtz.com/blogOrkut,

[7] 43Things: http://www.43Things.com

[8] Spoke: http://www.Spoke.com

[9] Leverage Software: http://www.LeverageSoftware.com

[10] Zero Degrees: http://www.ZeroDegrees.com

[11] SelectMinds: http://www.selectminds.com/jsp/Front/Main.jsp?cmd=home

[12] LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/

[13] Kevin Bacon: http://www.msnbc.com/onair/nbc/dateline/KBacon/Kevin.asp

[14] six degrees: http://aries.mos.org/sixdegrees/

[15] everyone else: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108149/

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