I Googled my phone number recently and found two of my selves on ZoomInfo.
The pages were apparently assembled from details harvested off the net with their "patented semantic search technology". Pretty neat, and pretty spooky:
It is interesting that they have identified me as two identities – a consultant and a designer. Self-analysis opportunities aside, this site raised several interesting questions.
Is it “right” for them to assemble these Franketsteinian profiles of me from randomly bits of my work hap-hazardly harvested from all over the internet without my consent or awareness?
Now all of the material they have of my selves were material I had released into the internet – but only through specific channels. I do know that the Internet is such that once something is released it is simply “out there”, and that there is no real control over channels anyway. So why does this still feel “not right”?
They are essentially representing me, my thoughts, my writing, my work, in a way that I may consider inappropriate or misleading – without my consent.
If you took someone’s whole body of work, and used bits of it to create a profile, it is quite conceivable that you could end up with a profile that is simply, as a whole, erroneous. Even if the actual facts are correct when taken individually.
In other words, pieces of truth can be assembled into a misleading whole.
This approach is a great ploy to get new members. This is a form of coercion – “don’t like how we are representing you? Claim your profile (become a member) and change it.” If they had simply sent me an email encouraging me to create a profile, I would not likely have done so.
What is the ethics around this practice? What do you think? Would you feel differently if you found such an unsanctioned profile of yourself in a paper-based publication, containing content that is wither out of date or that you would rather not be overtly associated with you?