Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Unsubscribe.com Offers the Equivalent of Anti-Virus and Spam Software for the Social Web

A company called Unsubscribe.com is today launching plug-ins for Firefox, Chrome and Safari that help users monitor the personal information they share with developers through Facebook Connect and similar tools.

Unsubscribe normally focuses on helping people escape pesky mailing lists, but this new free Social Monitor tool aims to be a sort of anti-virus and spam software for the social Web.

Giving new Web services and apps your social login data makes them more useful and personal, and some new ones won’t even let you register unless you connect Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

But there’s no great way to keep track of all that sharing, and it is far too easy for a service to misuse access to highly personal information like the identity of your family and significant other, your birthday, your photos, even your friends’ religious and political views. Once you click yes on that little dialog permission box, you probably never think about it again.

I personally have given 128 services my Facebook login, 55 my Twitter login, 15 my Google login, and seven my LinkedIn login. (Check your own application permissions here: FacebookTwitterGoogle, and LinkedIn.) Facebook says its users install 20 million third-party applications per day.

The Unsubscribe.com Social Monitor works in two ways: on its Web site, you can see a list of all the applications you’ve given social login data, along with their reputation scores and an analysis of how much data you’re giving them. Should that information worry you, you can click to disconnect access to an app directly from the dashboard.

Plus, once you have the plug-in installed, any time a service asks you to connect your account to Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, Unsubscribe.com will pop up its own analysis and recommendation of whether or not the service is trustworthy.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Unsubscribe has raised $2.1 million from investors including Charles River Ventures, First Round Capital, SV Angel and DFJ Frontier.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald