Recently, I chanced upon another “social networking” site, BigSight, which claims to be “the world’s largest people directory”. Although it’s “invitation only” at present, I found a page inviting me to join. So I did.
I was requested to create a profile, and provide an image, so uploaded the “avatar” you see on this blog’s profile, and which I use in most places where I have an on-line presence. I was also asked for my date of birth, and entered the day and month, but not the year. This caused an error message (and not a very meaningful or helpful one) when I saved the profile, so I entered a clearly-bogus dummy value, 1900.
Soon afterwards, I received an e-mail from BigSight, asking if I would “like to” upload a real picture and my real date of birth. I wrote back saying that, frankly, I would not. I then received an e-mail, almost by return, saying “Sorry, then, Andy, I’ve got to zap your page. The whole idea of bigsight is based around actual data.” Sure enough, my profile was already “404”.
Not only do I find such an apology insincere, but I don’t see how this model is workable.
Since they don’t know anything about me, much less what I look like, how would they know whether a “real” photograph was of me? If I’d given my birth date as, say, 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, or 1990, how would they know that it was not my real one? How do they verify all the images and birth-dates (and everything else) that they carry at present?
And how would they do such manual checking, if they ever did manage to get six-or seven figures of members?
I predict that BigSight will either fail (through lack of uptake, or, worse, because the “actual” data they profess to have will eventually turn out to be bogus), or will have to modify its polices so that the revealing of such personal data becomes optional.
As it is, BigSight has wiped the autobiography I wrote at their request, and now carry less (i.e. zero) information about me, than they did before they did so. “Way to go”, as I believe our transpondian cousins say.