No software company wants people to feel the way any iPhone user feels about Path right now. That's their problem. Path investor Mike Arrington gets it 100 percent wrong. Companies caught stealing private data from users have a serious problem, possibly one that can't be recovered from. He shouldn't put his own rep out there. His advice to Path is terrible. Instead he should be quietly working with his other investments to be sure they aren't doing the bone-headed thing Path was doing with users' data, and if they are, they should proactively clean up their act, publicly.
I just took a look at my contact info, which is shared between several of my web services. I wonder how many of them feel as Path does, that whatever is within their reach is theirs for the taking. And despite what they tell you most users think the contents of their address book is theirs and not Dave Morin's or Mike Arrington's.
Mike and Dave, if it's not a problem, would you please immediately publish the full contents of your address books. No fair editing. Let's see what you have going on. Heh. Not much chance of that is there?
Users, it's time to wise up. It's not just about being open, it's realizing that you have more at stake here than you might think. The people who run these companies are just like people who run all companies. They don't know you, care about you or look out for you. If there's something they can do to make a buck, no matter how cheap or sleazy, they're going to do it.
I was once fairly naive about this myself. I had a failed hard drive on my Mac laptop. Brought it into the Apple store. They wanted a lot of money for the replacement drive, and they wouldn't give me back my old drive. The one with all my private info on it. It's as if I had a wallet malfunction and the wallet manufacturer would sell me an overpriced replacement, and wanted to hold on to all my credit cards, and other private stuff I keep in my wallet.
And let's be clear. The real culprit is Apple. They let app developers have access to users' private data without asking for permission. They're really careful with their own data, but they clearly don't give a damn about their users' security.
Update -- there's a lot more to the story.