Path, a company hoping to build a kinder, gentler social network based on sharing within a limited number of people, has apologized for a contact-finder feature in its software that uploaded users’ entire iPhone address books to its servers and said it has deleted that personal information.
In yet another case of the tricky line between sharing, mobile data, and transparency, Arun Thampi, a developer for Anideo, discovered Tuesday that Path was uploading the contact information of his iPhone address book when he created an account. Path’s intention was to make it easier for users to find friends using that information, but Thampi and several others found it “a little creepy” that the company felt entitled to the data in one’s personal address book without explicitly warning them first.
On Wednesday, Dave Morin, CEO and founder of Path, apologized (sort of) in saying “we are deeply sorry if you were uncomfortable with how our application used your phone contacts.” A new version of Path has been released that no longer uploads that data unless you explicitly choose to do so, and the data collected from current Path users has been deleted, he said in a blog post.
Once again, we see the dance that mobile apps tied to location and social networks have to do around show they handle of private information. Path’s misstep is just another signal that people are willing to share information with mobile service providers up to a certain point but they are not pleased when that sharing happens without their knowledge.