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Quora FB / Twitter Auto-Follow

From: Ashish B.
Sent on: Monday, December 10, 2012 4:10 PM

[following comments in the thread below on inviting friends from FB, etc. to join]


Probably a bit behind the curve on this, but I just noticed that Quora does the same thing, but worse, in that it’s not anonymous and doesn’t ask for permission.


If you sign in with a Facebook account, it imports your whole friends list and automatically follows everyone who’s on Quora.  By default, Quora users get email notifications when someone follows them, so potentially hundreds or thousands of people will each get emails saying you followed them, with your name, profile picture, and other things you’re following included in the email.


I’ve been getting Quora email notifications of FB friends following me— many of whom I haven’t interacted with in years – and I don’t really post anything on Quora, so I was initially a bit confused.  Then logged in and saw it had auto-followed 113 people when I joined, and all my “followers” are just FB friends who happened to have joined Quora after me.


The same happens with Twitter, and while you can create an account without FB or Twitter logins (see below), Quora never clarifies what it’s going to do with all your friend info, so people may assume it’s just for login purposes (as on so many other sites).



Seems it’s been going on for years now:


“Charlie Cheever, One of the founders of Quora

When you sign up, we make you follow your Facebook or Twitter friends that already have accounts on the site; we've found that this makes for a much better site experience for everyone, even though it's not ideal that it isn't totally clear what's going on.


Pinterest seems to do the same thing.  It’s clear why the system makes sense for them (, but still feels a bit deceptive from a privacy standpoint…







From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of Calvin Chu
Sent: Wednesday, November 28,[masked]:30 PM
To: [address removed]
Subject: RE: Re: [newtech-1]


It’s a bit of a dirty maneuver.  They can ask forgiveness for doing it after they achieved necessary critical mass.



Calvin Chu

Senior Technology Licensing Officer, Columbia Technology Ventures

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From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of Noah Goldenberg
Sent: Wednesday, November 28,[masked]:20 PM
To: [address removed]
Subject: Re: Re: [newtech-1]


Just got an anonymous invite to this, saying a "friend" recommended it, including several members of my network who are in the news.  Took a look and a really cool and useful-looking service.  Also did notice in the sign-up flow that they do have some subtle ways (as Dean pointed out) of basically inviting EVERYONE you know!  The last step in sign-up, which as mentioned earlier, seems to be just the "next thing to do" in the sign-up flow, is asking you whether or not you want to see news on your "extended network" i.e. friends of friends.  The fine print mentions that in order for this to work, your friends need to be newsle members, and so it's going to invite all of them (with the anonymous option as the default).

Pretty smart way to lead with a benefit (see news about friends of friends) to get the user to allow newsle to send an invite "from your anonymous friend" to everyone in your circle.  Imagine this is helping them rapidly acquire users.  Also guessing they don't have to buy anything here:  since these are existing members allowing their LinkedIn and Facebook access, newsle can see that you are in their network, and include their names in the invite email without needing any access to your personal LI/FB contact lists.

Attached a screenshot of this UI for those curious.

On Fri, Nov 16, 2012 at 1:40 PM, Jason Melone <[address removed]> wrote:



Jay Melone
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Skype :: jaymelone | Yahoo IM :: digitalxbridge
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