Protect Your Privacy With Twiglets

By | June 25, 2007


I really hate being asked for lots of private details just to download a product. In short: People shouldn’t have to register to try something out. An email address, yes, if absolutely necessary.

But better not: just let the person decide whether they like it. It’s the online equivalent of a salesperson shadowing you around the shop so closely that if you stop or turn around quickly they bump into you. (One assistant in Marks & Spencer the other day tailed me so closely I could smell his breath, which wasn’t pleasant, and then had the gall to signal to the cashier it was his commission when I did, without his help, choose something to buy.) I nearly put some Marks & Spencer Twiglets up his nose but that branch doesn’t sell them.

Anywhere, latest offender in this regard is Laplink, who ask for way too much personal information just to download trial versions of their products, including email address, full name, address, post code, company name. Then they do that annoying thing at the end of trying to trick you into letting them send you spam with the old Three Tick Boxes Only One of Which You Should Tick if You Don’t Want To End In Every Spammers List From Here To Kudus Trick:


Rule of thumb there is to tick the third one in the row because it’s always the opposite of the other ones. As if we’re that stupid.

The other rule of thumb is never to put anything accurate in the fields they do require you to fill out. Not even your gender. Childish? Yes, maybe, but not half as childish as their not trusting you enough to decide whether you like the product on your own terms and not fill their spamming lists.

Of course the better rule of thumb is not to have anything to do with companies that employ such intrusiveness and trickery, but we’d never do anything then.

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One thought on “Protect Your Privacy With Twiglets

  1. Nick

    So why would intelligent and otherwise respectable companies do this? If we assume that their goal is to increase revenue, then the possible answers are either (a) that they are plain dumb and have taken bad advice, or (b) that they have found that the number of people who are put off by the request for contact details is smaller than the number of people whose purchase decisions are positively influenced by follow-up communications. Both numbers are significant, but one is more significant than the other. One man’s spam is another man’s useful information.

    In a wider context, the industry and pundits continue to make the simple error of pouring boiling oil on the people who send spam. The root cause of the spam problem is not the people who send it, but the people who respond to it by spending dollars. Spammers don’t fill our inboxes because they like us and want to help. They do it because it works. Ugly fact.


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