Plaxo tapped Facebook to help me get linked in and invaded my personal space in the process

The number of social networking sites has exploded in the past few years, with truly social outlets such as Facebook learning to share MySpace with people who want to get LinkedIn on Plaxo. I constantly get invites from former colleagues, family and friends to join them online at one network or another. The latest social media network to snag me as a user is Plaxo… which I joined more than a year ago and promptly abandoned. I returned to Plaxo recently on the recommendation of a friend and made the conscious decision to invest my most valuable commodity – time – into building out my profile.

Whether by design or sheer luck, updating my profile was incredibly easy… because everything I needed was already in my completed LinkedIn profile. I was able to pull dates and copy/paste descriptions straight from LinkedIn, saving a tremendous amount of time. My profile was done in about one-third the time I had set aside for the project – time I used instead to fill in some holes I discovered on LinkedIn. I then transferred the information to Plaxo.

Join my network

Plaxo profile complete, it was time to find people. I took a cursory look at my recommendations (“People you might know”) but realized that until I had built at least a small network, I was unlikely to get many good hits. So I did something I swore never to do: I allowed Plaxo to pull information from another network.

Like most social networking sites, Plaxo offered a tempting shortcut to finding friends: tapping into an existing wellspring of information. In this case, my options were limited. There were the sites I don’t use (Yahoo!, Gmail and AOL) and the account I wouldn’t use (my personal Hotmail account). My attempt to follow LinkedIn’s directions were a miserable failure. There was one candidate for success, however: Facebook.

Double exposure

I studied the text carefully and confirmed that yes it would only bother people in my Facebook network who were already registered Plaxo users. I clicked the button to access my Facebook account, and noticed an immediate change in my Plaxo view: a photo appeared in my profile. Plaxo had co-opted my Facebook image – an Xbox Live avatar – for my professional profile. Panicked, I immediately went to update my photo… and found several photos of my child. In my Plaxo profile. That I had not uploaded to Plaxo.

Apparently, when I tied my Facebook account to Plaxo, it took the liberty of pulling my various friends-and-family-only photo folders and added them to the “Photos” tab of my profile. While there was nothing incriminating (keep your Facebook clean, folks), I don’t want strangers to have access to family photos – even if they are just my child drinking hot chocolate at Starbucks.

All images were in folders, just as they appeared in Facebook. Fortunately, Plaxo allowed me to delete entire folders, saving me a lot of time. If I had to delete each image individually, odds are the only thing I would have deleted was my Plaxo account itself.

After I finished cleaning out my personal photos and updating my profile pic, I reviewed ALL sections of my profile to ensure no other stray Facebook goodies had moved over. It appears contacts and photos were the extent of the damage.

Contact Us

Satisfied with my damage control, I moved on to the final section: Websites and Personal Info. Opening the Websites section results in an icon explosion – add your Facebook! Share your Amazon Wish List! Tell the world your twitter name! (Just one? I have two, but had to choose…). Not to mention Facebook, YouTube,, MySpace, LiveJournal, Tumblr… and that’s just a very, very small fraction. If you’ve ever shared content online, odds are you can share it with your Plaxo network. (Or everyone. Or just Friends. Or just Family. It’s up to you.)

I chose a few resources, reviewed my restrictions and unleashed my profile on the world. All this took about an hour, during which time I received numerous mails in the background. I finally went to catch up and discovered I had four new Plaxo and two LinkedIn requests/friends.

Every single one was from Facebook.

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