PassLok and LiveLead

LiveLead Tech has been so kind as to write an article on their blog promoting PassLok. I thought I would reciprocate saying some nice things about LiveLead.

To be clear, PassLok and LiveLead are quite different products. I would even venture to say that they are opposites in many ways. The purpose of LiveLead is to capture personal information, such as email address, while the purpose of PassLok is to prevent others from capturing information you want to remain private. We are on opposite sides of the privacy wars. But I’ve learned something by watching how LiveLead operates, which might make PassLok stronger in the future, while LiveLead no doubt has seen in PassLok some features they’ll have to overcome. No blood has been shed to do this and we remain friends. What’s not to like?

LiveLead is described as a “Formless Opt-In”, meaning that users (people who visit pages where LiveLead is active) do not have to fill anything in order to get their email address collected. It is as simple as clicking on a link leading to a web page or a file that the user wants to download, presumably with ample warnings that doing so will collect said data and will enroll you into one more newsletter or set of promotional emails. The product is marketed to marketers, and it ties in with Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, the app formerly known as Twitter, and a few other popular social media.

I am impressed by how cleverly LiveLead does its magic, which is also explained in this video. Through the backend, you generate a link that eventually will lead to the “magnet” content (a file you want to download or page you want to visit), but before talks to the LiveLead server, which talks to the server owning the page where the link is located, asking for the clicker’s email address and other information available. It can even be configured to feed it directly to MailChimp and a host of other marketing platforms. I did not test all of this on ethical grounds because, as I said, I feel it is contrary to what my products want to achieve, but I believe it will work as advertised.

If the page offering the magnet content does not say it explicitly (the link looks like a typical minified URL), users might find themselves subscribed to spammers without being any wiser as to how that happened. So here’s the lesson to the user: don’t click on minified URLs, especially if they are on pages that are known to collect data from their users, such as social networks, because you may be unwittingly sharing that data with someone you would not want.

I hope what I’ve said sounds nice enough, but I’m summarizing it here: LiveLead is a clever product, and I’m sure it is poised to do a lot of damage out there. If you are an Internet marketer, you should check it out. I don’t think PassLok users are potential LiveLead users, but apparently LiveLead thinks LiveLead users are potential PassLok users. Wonders never cease. . .

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