How Not To Sell Your Privacy Product

If you are a dinosaur (like me) and still use e-mail, you should check your Spam/Junk folder every so often. The obvious reason: even very good spam filters will sometimes mistakenly classify a good message as spam.

The not-so-obvious reason: some spam is unintentionally very funny.

Up on Gmail (where my address is, I've been getting incessant mail for months from "". A recent example is from a scary e-mail address:

[From: Public Record Alert <>]

An alert! Aieee! Identity theft! I knew I should have stayed away from our local Target store!

Even an unusually naïve person might have gotten a little skeptical when reading the Subject line:

[Subject: Sandy, erase your public information from the web]

But wait! I'm not… er…

What follows might be scarifying: "5 or More Sites May Be Displaying Your Information". OK, so not identity theft. But still: oh no!

Just to remove all doubt, pulls out its trump card:

[Not even close]

Take my word for it: my name is not Sandy Paulin. I do not live in Gooding, Idaho (although it looks like a nice place). And the age of 51 I can't even spy in my rear-view mirror any more.

So, is this any way to get people to visit your website? MyLife, if your best guess is this far off, why should I worry about anyone else trying to find me?

(Parenthetically, I should mention that Reason magazine did a much better job of this back in 2004 when they sent me my issue with an aerial shot of my own house on the cover.)

Anyway: the Wikipedia entry for MyLife demonstrates that they've operated for years on the shady side of the web. Sample:

Hundreds of frustrated customers have turned to online complaint forums, describing the MyLife site as "a total scam" and a "rip-off."

So: laugh, but stay away.