How To Avoid Plaxo

By | January 30, 2004

Plaxo, the automated contact updating service, have responded to my last posting (see the comment at the bottom). I don’t think we need to go there any more. Bottom line: At present Plaxo exerts a high degree of access to your address book, and you may want to think carefully before you sign up about whether you want that. That said, Plaxo is a very useful tool, and they seem to be receptive to the idea that some things need to be improved.

For those of you who don’t want Plaxo, and are tired of getting requests from people to join up, here are two solutions from a reader:

  • When you get your first Plaxo update email from someone, set up an account with ‘fake’ info, and then edit your ‘card’ and click the ‘register your old e-mail addresses with Plaxo’ link. Put all your email addresses that other people might have there. Then anytime someone requests an update, they’ll get your fake card — with the right email addresses, but nothing more — back. And you won’t hear from them again.
  • When you get your first Plaxo update email, don’t sign up but go to this link. Fill in the ‘auto-reply’ form and put in some fake info. “This,” the reader says, “appears to have the same effect. The problem is once you register an email address in Method 1, you can’t use that email address in Method 2.”

The good news: “Either method ensures noone bugs you ever again for the email addresses that you have registered.” Ingenious.

The bad news: “I really dislike the fact that you can’t tell Plaxo to remove your email address from their system completely and forever. They will keep it on their database. This probably breaches the Privacy Acts of some jurisdictions.” Fair point.

I certainly know of many friends who have been deeply annoyed by multiple requests from Plaxo users, and these methods offer a good workaround. But perhaps Plaxo should consider a way for users to ‘opt out’ of the whole Plaxo thing, without having to spoof as this reader does, since this spoofing doesn’t help anybody: The fake information is a nuisance for the recipient, a waste of time for the spoofer, and a waste of space for the Plaxo records. And it still requires Plaxo holding some user data (the email addresses) which clearly offends some folk.

Back to you, Plaxo, for comments?

20 thoughts on “How To Avoid Plaxo

  1. Stacy Martin


    Let me just summarize what you’ve suggeted above:

    1) Set up an Plaxo account
    2) Set up an auto-reply account

    But you’ve also missed the exact option you are clamoring for – the ability to opt-out!!! It’s right there in every Update Request sent and has been provided by Plaxo for some time now.

    You could even found information on opting out by searching on “opt-out” in our Help Center (

    We even provide the flexibility to the recipient to opt-out from receiving Update Requests from just one member (individual opt-out), or the entire service (permanent opt-out), in addition to the auto-reply feature you mentioned earlier.

    Back to you…

    Stacy Martin
    Plaxo Trust Officer

  2. Rikk Carey

    More important, if you do try either of these techniques (described by you) you practically guarantee that you are sending bad data to people that you probably care about.

  3. Jenny Cox

    I tried Plaxo when I was using Outlook, and I had a number of complaints from friends – they thought that I had given their email address to some third party who kept spamming them if they didn’t respond within a few days. Have moved to Lotus Notes recently I decided it was time to get my address book updates again, and I found that noone was providing this kind of service for users of Lotus Notes, except for iTeam-Works, who’ve got a product called Contacts Direct Lite, which works with Notes and Outlook. I think they are harmless as they seem to be using their free version to advertise their other products.

  4. isepiq

    Good. If I get another one, I will make sure I ‘OPT OUT’ of Plaxo 100%, and advise all of my computer customers to do the same.

  5. maili

    how do i get out of plaxo
    it keeps flashing me when i open my e-mail?
    any help will be much appricated

  6. bloggs

    Getting unwanted email is only a side-issue, and opting out of it ammounts to little more than opting out of the privacy abuse that is occurring.

    What is needed is an ability to opt out of having information about me which I have not stored on plaxo’s servers about me without my consent.

    If plaxo users insist on submitting my private details to third party databases on the web, they should expect that I might be pissed off enough to do the same with their private data.

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  12. Christine Harris

    I have been to the Plaxo site and no matter where I search or what I search for – there is NO opt-out facility

  13. Kathy

    I was wondering if Plaxo can screw up the
    settings with your calendar if you use the
    synchronization that comes with it?

  14. Joyce Godin

    I want to Opt Out of Plaxo. when my brother sent the application I did not know what it was. I do not need this service.

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  16. Chris Peterson

    Plaxo’s software mined from my computer, and distributed to literally dozens of other computers, very private security information that was not in any way connected to my address book or date book, but instead located elsewhere within my Palm and Outlook based organizer setup. This had nothing to do with setting up two different address cards (which I did). This information included how to disable our home security system! Plaxo can say all they want, but their security ‘glitches’ are far more risky than the benefits justify in using this software. What’s worse, I never authorized any sync of my data with Plaxo AT ALL, I merely set up an account because of an organization I work with who uses Plaxo. When I installed and sync’ed Outlook to my Palm PDA, Plaxo’s software ‘self-authorized’ that sync, which I have seen other people have had issues with, which I had intentionally NOT done.

    To illustrate how much Plaxo really cares (none) their so-called head of security/privacy issues “Mac” refused to even look into the situation. Stacy Martin’s lies above are completely bogus – they have no interest in doing anything other than covering this up – including having a blog on their own website THAT THEY EDIT AND DELETE UNLESS THEY LIKE YOUR ENTRY…some blog.


  17. Chris Peterson

    I will modify, and somewhat retract, my statements above – after a month and a half of working with Plaxo on this issue. Firstly, credit is due to Stacy Martin, the Plaxo Privacy Officer who spent many hours trying to figure out how things went wrong and to alleviate my fears and perception that my private secure info got posted to others in my address book.

    While there is no way at this point to be 100% certain, it would appear that the message Plaxo generated on my computer was not indicative of what really happened – Plaxo can sync Notes and Tasks from a Palm device or Outlook (or in my case, both, since they are linked), but does not sync either of those catagories to anyone else, only the date book and/or address book.

    While there is no excuse for the first Plaxo privacy person’s (Mac) disappearing on me without doing anything, Ms. Martin did an excellent job of trying to mend the damage. Not too little too late, though of course, it was a bit too late, since I had to post this and several other blogs to get the attention. I am most impressed that in this process, Ms. Martin took the time to understand with the Plaxo software engineering department what appears to be some room for improvement in the set up and activation processes, improvement which I’m told by her that she has their engineering group already hard at work to make changes on. If that’s the case, then they deserve an “A” for the after-the-fact fix, and the only real harm was the lack of customer service their initial representative showed, which set me off after a scary message was generated by their software.

    I’m not going back to using Plaxo, but I withdraw the venom of my criticism and extend my thanks to them for their efforts.

  18. John Lungin

    I realize that this blog is old and Plaxo has changed some, but it comes up pretty high on Google, so I feel compelled to say that I am shocked by what I have read here.

    After years and years of pure frustration with backing-up and synchronizing my address books (especially folders within them) between Outlook and Outlook Express, a friend suggested Plaxo. That was a few years ago and I love it! Admittedly, there WERE issues I had about Plaxo constantly begging to send-out update requests which I would have to forcibly stop. But, all that has changed! If you are still getting requests all the time, PLEASE blame the sender, not Plaxo.

    I find it VERY hard to believe that so many of you would be so condemnitory of Plaxo based on info that someone else has about you (which only appears to them anyway!) in there address book OR that you provide on your ‘cards’ (which appears to only those people you allow to see it!). Put more simply, other people can only see info that they have input themselves or that YOU have provided! If you are SO BENT, simply don’t show any info on your cards, opt-out, or make your cards private!

    It’s ignorance like the comments above that ultimately hurts the rest of us who just want to use a very useful (lifesaving) tool. Go put some more safety stickers on your ladder!

    That said, thanks go to Jeremy for offering useful opinion/suggestions as well as Chris Peterson for revising his earlier rant. It takes character to admit being overzealous, especially on a blog!

    I don’t expect everyone to want to use/trust Plaxo, so I appreciate choosing not to. Just be aware that most likely, the people that have you in their Plaxo address book are probably people you know… and if they are not, just don’t share your cards with them. I can’t tell you how many people I would have lost touch with if it weren’t for Plaxo and I haven’t had any problem since they toned-down their update request tools.


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