Why I don’t like Evite

I understand why people like to use Evite. I’m sure it’s very convenient for providing party information, directions, and a guest list all in one place. In spite of this, I think the problems with it far outweigh the benefits. These problems mainly revolve around whether or not it’s ok to give out the personal information of your friends to a third party, especially one with a privacy policy as questionable as Evite’s, or their parent company, Ticketmaster.

How many Evite users have actually read their privacy policy? I’ll provide a couple points of interest for those who haven’t. This first one is from the section under the heading Collection of Information by Third Party Advertising Companies (which really says it all, I think):

Evite works with third-party advertising companies to place banner ads on our site and in e-mail communications sent to our registered users and to recipients of invites, Reminders, and other communications related to the Evite service.

(emphasis mine)

In other words, when you use Evite, you are “opting-in” all of your friends to potentially be sold and spammed. You agreed to their terms when you used their service, but the people on your invitation list did not, yet they will potentially receive spam all the same. In fact, this is likely one of the reasons for Evite’s existence; by now they’ve got a huge database of confirmed-good e-mail addresses just waiting to be sold to those third-party advertisers. Doesn’t anyone remember Crushlink? There certainly are truly free services out there, but they usually aren’t operated by companies as sleazy as Ticketbastard. This is the company who, until recently, had the following in their own privacy policy:

By purchasing a ticket, or completing a registration form so that you are able to access a purchase page for a ticket, to a concert, game or other event on the Site, you consent (i.e., you opt-in) to us sharing your personal information with the venues, promoters, artists, teams, leagues and other third parties associated with that concert, game or other event (“Event Partners”). We cannot offer you a separate opportunity to opt-out, or not to consent, to our sharing of your personal information with them. Event Partners may use your personal information in accordance with their own privacy policies, and may consequently use your personal information to contact you and may share your personal information with others. You will need to contact those Event Partners who contact you to instruct them directly regarding your preferences for the use of your personal information by them.

(via Gripelog, by way of Politech)

They have since reworded this policy, but the only noticable difference is the absence of the words “We cannot offer you a separate opportunity to opt-out…”, but that is still obviously the case. At least they now have a mechanism to opt-out of receiving advertising directly from them but they go out of their way to point out that the aforementioned third-parties are not bound by TM’s privacy policy and you will still receive promotions, etc, from them.

Back to Evite, another gem is found under Opt-Out, Delete/Deactivate:

While Evite does not give users the opportunity to remove their information from our database, you may remove your registration information from our Profiles page as described below.

As far as I can tell, the only way to stay off of Evite lists is to premptively give them your address for their do-not-invite list. This is obviously no option at all.

It’s no coincidence that SpamAssassin flags Evite invitations as spam. These e-mails share many of the same characteristics as spam: they’re choked with HTML and remote loading images (ie, “web bugs”), and they contain no useful information except a link you have to click through to even see the first thing about the event. Once you do that, you are subjected to banner ads on their web site. This is spammy in the extreme. If they are a legitimate company, one would expect them to make a little effort to look like one.

I do my best to clue in my friends, but sadly, I have met with little success. I often hear, “I’m sure it’s ok, I haven’t gotten any spam from them yet”. To that I say that these people have every right to gamble with their own mailbox but should show a little more consideration for their friends. It may very well be only a matter time before the seemingly inevitable happens, and once you get on one spam list, it only gets worse. I appreciate that some people will respect my wishes, but am often disappointed by seeing them continue signing up all their other friends, even after the privacy problems have been brought to their attention. Laziness prevails, I suppose.

What we need is for someone to create Freevite, a free invitation management system with no strings attached. In addition to offering the service hosted, I would like to see the code released so people can run it on their own web servers as well. I’ve found two similar projects on SourceForge, but both are still in the planning stage, with no actual code release yet.

This is why I mention on my contact page that I do not want to be included in Evite invitations, and this is why I promptly remove myself from any guest list I am added to. Of course when I do this I don’t know that they’re actually deleting my address — by their own admission, they don’t remove people from their database — but it’s the only option I have.

Comments

kscaldef says:

Evite’s emails are also sufficiently obnoxious that SpamAssassin tags them as spam.

kchrist says:

That’s pretty funny. Their invitation e-mails are a slew of HTML that includes images and, by their own admission, “web bugs”. I wonder if that’s what causes Spam Assassin to flag them or just the fact that their e-mail policy is so terrible. Flag them now because they may start spamming at any time.

kscaldef says:

X-Spam-Status: Yes, hits=6.5 required=5.0 tests=INVALID_DATE_NO_TZ, EXCUSE_6, CLICK_BELOW, BIG_FONT, CLICK_HERE_LINK, WEB_BUGS

lots of suspicious phrases and the web bugs

kchrist says:

Neat. I really should check out Spam Assassin one of these days. It looks pretty good. I like that it tells you exactly what caused the mail to be flagged as possible spam.

Margarita says:

That is crazy… because I have my work # as an RSVP.
And i have been getting some strange calls to be getting at work.. sales calls,
contest winner things like this.

I will no longer use it.

Thanks for the information.