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Pinterest’s Affiliate Controversy and Path’s Privacy #Fail: One Company Does The Right Thing.

Two social media platforms have been involved in controversy this week.  One of them has done the right thing.

Pinterest, the fast-growing darling loved by scrapbookers and traffic-drivers alike, has been outed for using a service called SlimLinks to add affiliate links to some users’ posts.  After some initial confusion, outrage and debate, the consensus among bloggers and comenters seems to be that it’s perfectly all right for the site to use affiliate links to generate revenue, but the company should disclose what exactly it’s doing–especially in light of the tight disclosure rules for bloggers, as Shelly Kramer so rightly points out.

The Pinterest affiliate controversy has been brewing since at least this January 20 post from Joel Garcia.  To date, Pinterest has not commented on any of the posts.  It has not updated its blog since January 18, and the last tweet sent by the company’s account was on January 26.  Its millions of fans are still waiting for answers and a clarification on how it is monetizing the content they post.

Meanwhile, Path, a site valued for letting its users create intimate and private social networks, found itself embroiled in a potentially more lethal privacy controversy.  On September 8, Arun Thampi posted that he had noticed that Path uploaded the contents of his entire address, including names, emails and phone numbers.  Within moments, the news was spreading among the hacker community and to irate users.

Just as quickly, Path Co-Founder and CEO Dave Morin posted a comment on the original blog post, and began to field questions and criticism from users, engaging in debate about the best way to manage friending and matching on the site.  24 hours later, Morin has posted a detailed apology, titled We Are Sorry, to the company’s blog.  The company has fixed the controversial process it was using to match friends through its member’s address books, implementing a 100% opt-in policy, and has deleted all of the data it collected from its old process from its servers.  The post is signed by David Morin personally, and has his picture on it.   You should read it.

Moments later, All Things D and other big tech blogs are reporting on the story–but instead of using Path as the poster child for the latest privacy fail, they are reporting the fact that the problem has been solved.

How would your company respond in a situation like this?  Do you think Pinterest should be taking steps to communicate with its users?

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