California-based startup Communly states that its purpose is not only to create a new social network (like we need another one of those) that structures users around their interests, but also to connect brands with actionable insights from the interest groups that match their business niche–basically, helping “likes” translate to sales. But let’s back up for a moment and touch on what the real problem is here.
Kashmir Hill over at Forbes has a good writeup that details the nature of people’s privacy concerns on Facebook. Thing about Communly is, it’s designed to help companies take more advantage of your profile data to, well, sell you more stuff. I think I need only to reference the aforementioned Forbes article to convey what kind of super-creepiness awaits users of Communly.
So while it may sound interesting to have the products you want present themselves to you before you even know you want to buy them, do consider how invasive it will feel to have a computer system knowing you that well to get more of your hard-earned dough.
On the other hand, consider Respect Network, a new service launched today that grew out of Connect.me. It aims to give people a secure, private, decentralized way to manage their entire online identity. David Meyer at GigaOm even describes the Respect Network in a way that makes it sound, privacy-wise, like the exact opposite of Communly.
Needless to say, you can count me a fan of Respect Network and not Communly. I haven’t signed up yet, but I hope to once I can afford it.