Blippy & Swipely Push The Boundaries Of Social Networking Privacy

With Google Buzz and now Facebook's Open Graph attempting to redefine 'privacy' in the 21st Century, along comes services that are attemptin to make your everyday credit card purchases social.

On the heels of Blippy incurring a major slip-up by exposing users' credit card numbers, entering stage left is a similar social network.  Differing slightly from its predecessor, the start-up Swipely doesn't focus on the 'money' portion of the purchase, as it does on the transaction itself. Both platforms may help or detract from the ongoing debate on what our 'new' privacy will eventually look like.

In April, Blippy incurred a major privacy breach that exposed user credit card information to search engines. While only four users had their credit cards compromised, infractions like this cast a dark shadow over social networks that are attempting to forge new ground in the 'transactional social networking' space.

In attempt to diffuse the 'invasion of privacy' issue, Blippy's official response was expressed in somewhat casual conversational manner:

  "While it looks super-scary and certainly sucks for those few people who were  
   affected, and is embarrassing to us, it's a lot less bad than it looks."

According to a TechCrunch report, "Blippy has always been controversial because of its potential privacy issues - this will only give its opponents more ammunition and may cause some current users to question the security of the service."

Angus DavisAngus DavisWith a $7.5 million round of funding, co-founder Angus Davis underscores the central premise of Swipely as "adding value to every swipe."  In essence, this means that with every swipe of a credit card you make - that information becomes most useful to your friends and followers. Swipely is not about how much you're spending (dollar amounts are not tabulated) but instead about where you're spending the money and what you're buying.

Swipely works on the premise that if users know people who bought certain merchandise and can vouch for it, they are more likely to purchase those items themselves.  This 'wisdom of crowds' perspective also works with negative reviews and products users are warned to avoid.

In regards to privacy, Swipely takes these issues seriously and even states on their "Privacy & Security" page that "Swipely does not show the amount you spent on a specific purchase - your money is your business.'

Both Blippy has had a difficult relationship with concerning privacy issues. According to a NY Times report, Amazon has actively blocked people from linking their Amazon accounts to the Blippy site siting security concerns.  Like other large e-commerce sites, Amazon is protecting their customers from breaches in privacy and feels that hackers could zero in on Blippy and eventually Swipely as a way to get access to its customer's payment information.

Another reason for Amazon enforcing these restrictions with Blippy and other similar sites is they don't want to share their customers' buying history. Since this type of data is the basis for Amazon's masterful handling of eMarketing - they don't want 3rd parties to post that information on their sites, where competitors like Wal-Mart could potentially capitalize on it.

Swipely is launching today in limited beta and has offered TechCrunch 100 invitations for their readers to use. By posting the redemption code TECHCRUNCH - if you're among the first 100, you get in. You may also check with out Tech blogs to see if they are offering similar redemption codes.

Swipely Beta Sign-upsSwipely Beta Sign-ups

With Facebook facing its most critical hurdle to date as to their handling of privacy, Swipely and Blippy are incorporating the controversial FB "like buttons" on their Web sites. If "transactional social networking" gains traction, this move could lend credibility to Facebook's position. However, it they falter - it could potentially put another nail in Facebook's Open Graph coffin.

May 12, 2010
by Anonymous

Pandora's Box?

This seems like a really bad idea. Allowing this amount of information out is going to generate news in the future. How long before a jealous husband/wife commits a crime of passion based on Blippy/Swipely reports? What about stalkers? Or thieves that can track a person's location?

Giles, Senior Editor, TrustWorks

May 21, 2010
by Anonymous

interesting but i wouldnt trust

I have to agree with the comments above. Theres a lot of smart people out there that will hack the crap out of these sites. And do you really want people to know where you are shopping all the time? I dont. Im guessing this wont catch on...