Thursday, February 23, 2012

Focus on Spoke privacy

Spoke Privacy is a major concern of mine. Ever since I took over as CEO, this has been one of our main efforts and will still remain over time. I have also to command my team who has been very involved to make this effort a reality. The last of their effort was the release of the new site. With this new site, we have had since the launch more than 40,000 edits as well more than 1,000 appreciations on our Homepage with little to no marketing effort. These results are very encouraging: it proves that our privacy model works and that the mechanisms are in place for the very people who are not comfortable with our privacy model. This has been made possible for few reasons:

1) We are an open company to any type of feedbacks. We have a privacy policy, a topic page, as well as our Getsatisfaction forums. Each of them has different goals and objectives. Our privacy policy is of course our main document. It encapsulates our commitment to you as a user when you are entrusting us with your data. Our spoke topic page describes the issue we have had and, as for any topic page, if you believe we have missed something, you can edit this page by adding documents or even related documents that you believe are relevant to Spoke Privacy Policy. On our Getsatisfaction forum, you can ask us questions and engage in a discussion in real time with our team;

2) Our privacy policy is a living document: Privacy is not set in stone and will evolve over time and we need to adapt our documents to the standards of privacy as they evolve; we rely on you, the users, as well as our own research to advance it over time to the best standard in the Industry;

3) Privacy is not only about a document. It is an attitude and a series of processes that we are constantly refining to make them more efficient;

4) Lastly, every company has privacy challenges: and, to say the contrary, would not believable. At Spoke, we have identified few that we are focused on and we are conscious that we should not drop the ball on them.

 Most of the privacy challenges come from what we do: we are a Publisher of business information. That is indeed what we do, we are a publisher of business information about industry topics, companies and people. We believe that there is inherent social value in having a profile listed with all the relevant information about somebody so that people get to the right information at the right time. We also believe that a community based approach is important so that information is always fresh and objective.

This said, our approach is not without privacy challenges that we need to tackle:
1) Person on whom the profile is being published may not want a profile on the Internet. Since the launch on January 6th, we had 500 removal requests for 3.5 million monthly unique visitors. In this case, we have removed profiles in less than 48 hours per our privacy policy requirement. 48 hours is our first commitment but we will make sure that we do better over time;

2) The information posted may be inaccurate. This is true for few reasons. We have aggregated information over time from many sources and this information may be either outdated or in few instances incorrect. If you find information like this, you have two options and we have seen people using both, the first one is to edit the information yourself and the second one is to let us know which information is incorrect and we will update it ourselves. We are seeing people copying and pasting a resume where all the information is corrected in the summary and our editorial team will take this information and make it correct;

3) Least but not last, anybody, even anonymously, can update the information and that, of course, raises eyebrows as people are worried about spam and slandering. For this, we have built a robust moderation system and every pieces of information is being evaluated, every IPs is also being evaluated constantly as well. With that information, we identify quickly bad information providers and we can ban them from the system if needs be.

 We don’t believe we know everything and the world is changing and the privacy requirements as well. We are also very eager to understand your point of view and understand what needs to get done in addition to what we are doing now. And we are at your disposal if you feel that we are missing issues or if you feel that we should address those issues outlined above in a different way.

Philippe Cases

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