I recently received an invitation to connect to a friend on MyLife.com. I’ve gotten these before, and I always politely refuse them, since I focus my social network connections on LinkedIn and Facebook.
My friend wrote back to say that he hadn’t sent me that invitation – but wait, this is only the start of the story…
It turns out – if this Wikipedia article is correct – that ZoomInfo feeds contact info on business-related signups to their associate MyLife. In itself, that’s a slimy thing to do, but it doesn’t end there.
If you sign up at MyLife, they are going to ask you if you’d like to upload your contacts to them to try to find other friends. If you do, they will start spamming your contacts without even asking your permission. Here’s a quote from an article in the Los Angeles Times (Reunion.com is now MyLife.com):
West L.A. resident Elaine Schmidt experienced Reunion.com’s aggressive marketing for herself when she received an e-mail the other day that appeared to be from a longtime acquaintance.
It said: “Hi, I looked for you on Reunion.com, the largest people search service — but you weren’t there.” The e-mail instructed her to click on a link to see who else has been searching for her.
Curious to see if her acquaintance had left a message, Schmidt, 44, clicked on the link and found herself at Reunion.com’s site, where she was prompted to register so she could see who’d been searching for her.
As part of the process, she submitted her name, gender, e-mail address, birth date and ZIP Code.
Then Schmidt came to a page saying that “we’ll find your friends and family who are already members and also automatically invite any nonmembers to join (it’s free!).” It instructed her to enter the password for her Yahoo e-mail account.
“I thought I was just signing up to read my friend’s message,” Schmidt said. “At no time did I think I was authorizing them to access my online address book.”
Within minutes, though, she started getting e-mails from friends and colleagues asking why she was searching for them on Reunion.com.
I recommend ZoomInfo in my presentations, and I’ll continue to do that – simply because they have information on about 50 million people, and the site is still used by many headhunters. And also because the info they have is often wrong. So it’s important for you to go there and claim your identity (search for yourself, and when you get the results hit the “that’s me” button).
Here’s a link to a page on ZoomInfo that explains how they get their information and how you can request that they remove your listing – but I think it’s better to correct your information than to de-list yourself.
But beware! Don’t go near MyLife.com.
And let me give you a general suggestion: you should never upload your contacts to any site. You may have seen this option in LinkedIn and similar sites – but I really don’t recommend that you use these services for the simple reason that you lose control of your data that way. It’s always better to enter your connections one at a time. MyLife is not the only site that uses this slimy practice – Plaxo was once well known for doing the same thing.
Also please beware: if you get a request from MyLife, you may want to think carefully before joining. If you get an email that looks like it comes from somebody you know – saying that they tried to find you somewhere but couldn’t – email them privately and ask if they really sent that invitation. This will be better for you, and it will help alert your friends that they are inadvertently spamming you.