Does Connectifier Harvest Contacts From Your Address Book?

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Editor’s note: Several tweets that were previously embedded in this post have been deleted from Twitter. For that reason, this piece may not make as much sense as it did previously. Sorry for the confusion. Now I know I should take screenshots :). 

SourceCon conferences and the SourceCon blog are great places to hear about the tools sourcers and recruiters are using in the trenches. Earlier this month, Mark Tortorici plugged several of his favorite tools during his SourceCon Denver session. This resulted in a blog post from one of the attendees which listed some of the tools Mark mentioned. After reading the post, several founders of sourcing technology companies voiced sharp criticism of one of the tools, Connectifier, and of Mark Tortorici for mentioning the company on the SourceCon stage.

Below are a few of the tweets that were shared.

Marc Drees is founder of 360social.me and Peter Kazanjy is founder of Talentbin.

Below is more of the conversation.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.55.07 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.55.54 AM

So, what is Connectifier doing? If they are stealing data from users without their knowledge, this is something we should take seriously.

Dean Da Costa, a SourceCon contributor and respected expert on sourcing and recruiting tools, discussed Connectifier for a few minutes this week when he was a guest on the Recruiting Animal Show. Dean doesn’t agree that Connectifier steals data from address books. When asked about this issue, Dean responded, “If they do (steal data), they’re not doing a good job.” He then went on to explain that he has a “boatload of contacts” in his address book that Connectifer doesn’t have. You can listen to the conversation below.

 

Connectifier didn’t weigh in on Twitter so I reached out to John Jersin, founder and CEO, for a statement.

Jeremy,

Always good to hear from you. Here are my thoughts on the Twitter conversation you pointed me to.

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The day Connectifier’s first beta user signed-up, we already had more candidates matched to contact information in our database than any competitive product. At the time, TalentBin and Entelo had 900k and 2 million contactable profiles respectively. We were already closing in on 10 million.

From the start, we’ve heard this question: how did a new company beat the more established players on this key metric? There is a fairly simple answer: we have a stellar engineering team. Take our first non-Google hire, Kevin Keck. Kevin spent 8 years at Berkeley National Lab, one of the premier national research laboratories, where he was a major contributor to international standards related to semantic search. What sets Connectifier apart more than is that our team is comprised exclusively of engineers of that same caliber (see here). 

Our competitors like to claim that most of our data comes from users. It doesn’t. They would also have you believe that we require users to upload contacts in order to use Connectifier. We don’t. If you want to, you can connect to your Gmail account so you and your team can see a bit more of your contact history in Connectifier. Anyone who does this will see notices that they are opting in to share data with us, and roughly 1.5% of their contact data actually ends up getting shared, and that’s the only way we ever share information from any of our users. The vast majority of what we do are the same things TalentBin and Entelo have always done, we just achieve much better results.

If you look at your smartphone right now, many of your favorite apps were built by Connectifier customers–and in doing their diligence before licensing our product, and in many cases conducting a thorough security review, they have each been satisfied with the way Connectifier operates. An increasing number of these companies are beginning to use Connectifier as their primary recruiting platform, and we have never lost a customer to date. 

I’m always happy to talk about how it is that we’ve been so successful; it’s just a much simpler story than our competitors seem to hope for. I must say, if how we do so well is the primary question about our business, I have to be pretty happy about that. 

All the best,
John Jersin
CEO, Connectifier

What do you think? Do you trust Chrome extensions and other tools with your data? How do you protect yourself when you download tools like Connectifier?

image credit: bigstock

Jeremy Roberts, SPHR, is VP, Customer Experience at HiringSolved. He is the previous Editor of SourceCon. Prior to joining the ERE Media team, he spent over a decade working as a recruiter, sourcer, and sourcing manager. This time was spent in diverse environments, including third party agency settings (retained and contingent), recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) providers, and internal corporate HR departments. His previous employers include the MHA Group, Ajilon Finance, Korn Ferry Futurestep, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, and Randstad Sourceright, US. He resides in Corinth, TX with his wife and 3 children.

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4 Comments on “Does Connectifier Harvest Contacts From Your Address Book?

  1. I think John has a successful life in politics ahead of him! That is the best non-answer I have ever read. So, in saying that they only use 1.5% of your contacts, what he really means (I suspect) is that 98.5% of your contact data cannot be matched against their index as most of your Google contacts do not have accurately mapped job titles, employer names and locations (Google Contacts adds everyone you email/ who emails you, automatically, as a contact but doesn’t pick up on quality contact vectors unless the email format is structured and you manually add that data or Gmail gets a match against a G+ profile.
    Personally I think what they are doing is genius. He is correct in saying that you can use Connectifier without syncing your Google contacts; they just (perhaps craftily) suggest that it does now work as well without you syncing your contacts (again, “as well” meaning they can’t add 1.5% of your tens of thousands of contacts to their database).
    I use the tool, think its awesome, but chose not to sync my Google Contacts.
    I recommend it to everyone (and think Sourcecon should too) but always do so with the caveat that they ARE using your personal address book and making (some of) your personal, private contacts available to other users.
    Love it for what it is; respect it for how it manipulates those who don’t take the time to really think about it has such a good database of contacts and make an informed decision on whether you should sync your contacts.
    If you choose not to risk it (and I don’t see much of a risk at all), you can at least learn something from John’s impressive “politicking” !

  2. So, Johnny, you are saying: “Connectifier does not work as well if you don’t let them access your gmail contact list.” But you didn’t tell us what we are missing when we don’t. And how do you know that? You said that you didn’t give them access.

  3. It’s simple enough to know what Connectifierdoes.
    Since it’s a Chrome extension, any user can easily view its network
    traffic in the Chrome console. It essentially turns the user’s machine into a
    crawler node. It sends the pages the the user views (full HTML content) up to
    the Connectifier servers. Since they have over 7000 users of the extension,
    this design makes for a decent crawler. Also, it allows Connectifier to copy contact
    data from LinkedIn Profile Pages that only connected users can see. This
    behavior is a degree more invasive than what LinkedIn sued HiringSolved for,
    since we did not use data from connected accounts. However, it is in very a gray
    area since each user willingly installed the extension and granted Connectifier
    permission to do this. This is certainly a violation of LinkedIn’s TOS and I’m
    a bit surprised that their legal team hasn’t come knocking yet since some of
    the arguments they made against HiringSolved would be very applicable here.
    However, I will give John credit, it’s an interesting design that plays in an
    interesting gray area both legally and morally. There are companies which have banned the Connectifier extension for this behavior, but perhaps they were never “customers” to begin with.

  4. It’s simple enough to know what Connectifier
    does. Since it’s a Chrome extension, any user can easily view its network
    traffic in the Chrome console. It essentially turns the user’s machine into a
    crawler node. It sends the pages the the user views (full HTML content) up to
    the Connectifier servers. Since they have over 7000 users of the extension,
    this design makes for a decent crawler. Also, it allows Connectifier to copy contact
    data from LinkedIn Profile Pages that only connected users can see. This
    behavior is a degree more invasive than what LinkedIn sued HiringSolved for,
    since we did not use data from connected accounts. However, it is in a gray
    area since each user willingly installed the extension and granted Connectifier
    permission to do this. This is certainly a violation of LinkedIn’s TOS and I’m
    a bit surprised that their legal team hasn’t come knocking yet since some of
    the arguments they made against HiringSolved would be very applicable here.
    However, I will give John credit, it’s an interesting design that plays in an
    interesting gray area both legally and morally.

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