Unroll.me is a popular service designed to help you keep on top of your email subscriptions. It lets you unsubscribe from multiple newsletters with just one click. And it will do so completely for free. Unfortunately, if something is free there’s usually a catch. And Unroll.me is no exception.
Seemingly unbeknownst to most of its users, Unroll.me has been making money selling their data to other companies. We know thanks to a single paragraph in a lengthy profile of Uber CEO and founder Travis Kalanick in The New York Times. And Unroll.me is currently embarking on some serious damage control.
An Interesting Aside
In its profile of Kalanick, The New York Times states that “[Uber] employees acted to ensure the ride-hailing service would win no matter what.” To this end, the company “devoted teams to so-called competitive intelligence, purchasing data from an analytics service called Slice Intelligence”.
The story continues, “Using an email digest service it owns named Unroll.me, Slice collected its customers’ emailed Lyft receipts from their inboxes and sold the anonymized data to Uber. Slice confirmed that it sells anonymized data based on ride receipts from Uber and Lyft, but declined to disclose who buys the information”.
The Heartfelt Apology
Unroll.me acted quickly to limit the damage done by this, with its CEO Jojo Hedaya penning a blog post titled “We Can Do Better”. In it he claims the company finds it “heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service”.
He goes onto say that all users tick a box stating they’ve read and understood the Terms of Service explaining how the company may collect and sell their information. Which is true. However, it would seem most users were naively expecting more from this particular company.
The Choice Is Yours
It’s completely up to you whether you stop using Unroll.me as a result of these revelations.
If you don’t mind having your data sold to third parties and accept Hedaya’s apology then you should stick with the company. However if you feel like Unroll.me was economical with the truth or you feel its business model is shady then you should probably delete your account instead.
Do you use Unroll.me? Did you realize the company was selling your data? If not, does this change your opinion of the company? Will you now stop using Unroll.me? How do you feel about the company’s response to this situation? Please let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: 10ch via Flickr
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