Microsoft may be mining and sharing data it collects from Windows Live users without their knowledge, according to the top story in today’s Windows Secrets Newsletter.
Using addresses pulled from subscribers’ instant messaging and Hotmail Contacts lists, Microsoft takes information from public sources that used to have a very narrow distribution, mashes it together, and sends it out to a wider audience than ever before, in the interest of creating social networks, the story says.
“Social networks are nothing new and subscribers to sites like Facebook and Twitter fully expect their comments and information to be publicly displayed,” said Woody Leonhard, a senior editor for Windows Secrets and writer of this week’s top story. “What Microsoft is doing is taking information that used to be restricted to a very narrow audience — certain blog readers and Live Spaces subscribers, for example — and shooting it out to people you may have never even met — all in an attempt to get a finger in the social networking pie.”
Leonhard states in the article that while Microsoft has not specifically revealed how it obtains its private contact and communication information, his research indicates that the data is collected from users subscribing to Windows Live Messenger and Hotmail. The information is then passed along to other users as a way for them to expand their networks and to obtain status updates from their network members. The information shared could include status posts intended for a small circle of friends or contact list updates that could potentially be embarrassing to unsuspecting users.
“Microsoft has stepped over the line in an attempt to join the social networking space,” said Brian Livingston, editorial director of WindowsSecrets.com. “Sharing with perfect strangers private communications that are intended for a small group is not only ethically questionable but opens the door for legal concerns as well, given that posts and messages intended for a very limited number of people are being displayed for the whole world to see.”
Click here to read the entire story and Microsoft’s response.
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