People sacrifice their privacy for financial gain on a regular basis. This trade-off is the foundation of loyalty cards. Every day, I allow SafeWay to track my purchases, and from time to time I get 70 cents off of a box of Kleenex or something similar.
But exposing private information to the world for no apparent gain is stupid. This was made painfully clear today when social networking site Blippy exposed users credit card numbers in Google search results.
Blippy is a viral marketing engine that relies on exhibitionism. It lets people automatically broadcast their purchases, with the idea that their friends will buy the same things. I'm not sure why people want to expose themselves like this. You see, with Blippy, you're not promised anything in return for all this free advertising and personal exposure.
Worse yet, people put themselves at risk of identity theft. Giving up some privacy and exposing your behavior to one merchant because you want a specific benefit is one thing. But exposing yourself to the entire world is stupid.
Exploiting stupidity has always been a source of business. In fact, Blippy just announced $11 million in funding from August Capital.
There's so many great things happening because of the Internet. But because of the Internet, exploiting stupidity is more scalable.