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Unroll.me Founder Unloads In Wake of Uber Scandal - By jkukura - April 26, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Unroll.me Founder Unloads In Wake of Uber Scandal

Unroll.me via Facebook

This week’s disturbing revelation that Uber has been spying on your Lyft receipts using the “clean up your inbox” service Unroll.me was exposed in the excellent Intercept article Stop Using Unroll.me Right Now, It Sold Your Data to Uber. In response to an angry uproar from users, Unroll.me’s current CEO posted the standard “We Can Do Better” non-apology to the company blog. But the company’s co-founder took a different approach to the standard non-apology — a thousand-word rant on Medium blaming users for not reading their terms of service carefully enough.

Unroll.me co-founder Perri Chase no longer works for Unroll.me, but she’s clearly unrolling some thoughts over the controversy. “My co-founder Jojo [Hedaya] is literally one of the most incredible humans I have ever met and I cannot in good conscience watch the press call him sociopathic and rip him apart for the tone of his apology,” Chase writes on Medium. (NOTE: At no point did Hedaya apologize, nor did the parent company Slice Intelligence apologize in their statement to Gizmodo.)

“Respectfully, you have clearly been living under a rock,” she continues. “I encourage you to go read the Terms of Service of every app you opt in to in order to see what rights they have over your data.”

But a Gizmodo investigation found that Unroll.me’s Terms of Service are well-hidden and very difficult to find. “The text does tell you about the use of ‘non-personal information’ to ‘build anonymous market research products and services’,” writes Kashmir Hill. “But it’s in tiny light gray print against a lighter gray background. That’s a design choice that seems intended to get your eyes to glaze over what’s written, a classic ‘dark pattern,’ which is when a website gives you information while trying to ensure you don’t absorb it.”

In Chase’s defense, her Medium post gets in some excellent jabs at certain Silicon Valley executives. “Unroll.me was bought by a company called Slice Intelligence (don’t get me started on the founder of that company),” she writes. And in a reference to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s affinity for holding company functions at strip clubs, she writes that “Jojo and Travis are not buddies hanging out at a strip club in Korea. Jojo has nothing to do with Uber. Slice, the parent company, takes care of that.”

If you’re concerned that Unroll.me or similar data-scraping services are accessing your private Gmail emails, go to the Gmail apps connected to your account page. You can remove these third party apps one-by-one, and you’ll probably be surprised to see that Pokemon GO still has access to your Google account.