Unvarnished.com: The dark side of social networks
Is it just me, or does the controversial startup Getunvarnished.com give other people the creeps, too?
This, of course, is the web site that allows readers to rate and review people at work. According to some accounts, it’s just the next step in online reviewing. There’s Yelp for restaurants and the like. TripAdvisor for hotels and so on. TheFunded.com for sources of entrepreneurial financing. So, why not provide the chance to rate co-workers or former colleagues?
The answer, I would think, is obvious. Because you’re not talking about businesses, you’re talking about private citizens. Because these private citizens haven’t given permission to be included. Because it provides the opportunity to create one giant, virtual slam book. Comments are anonymous, so what’s to stop anyone from saying just about anything? Are you mad your office rival got the promotion you wanted? Just rush to Unvarnished and post whatever nasty observation you see fit to write. Stands to reason the majority of people who will want to post reviews will be those who loathe the individual in question.
I know 20-somethings are supposed to have a different concept of what constitutes privacy. But, surely, there’s no way Unvarnished can be construed as anything other than a major privacy violation. And, as an example of the worst of the Internet–just what can happen when “democratization of information”, “citizen journalism”, and online anonymity really run amuck.
Umair Haque, director of the Havas Media Lab, wrote, “Increasingly, today’s ’social web’ doesn’t empower people. It empowers hate, exclusion and polarization.”
That’s it in a nutshell.
The site is still in a test phase. Hopefully, after a flurry of initial interest once it launches, Unvarnished will die a quick death.