Bulldog Reporter's "Mommy Blogger" Accused of Violating Blogger's PrivacyCecily Kellogg
Once again, the Bulldog Reporter self-proclaimed “leader in media intelligence” has produced a list of 300 or so “mommy bloggers” for businesses to purchase for $199.
I wrote about the list last year when the biggest sins of the list were primarily the incredibly poor organization and wildly mislabeled bloggers. But this year, they’ve gone even further: they’ve included the home addresses and home/cell phone numbers of the bloggers without their permission, of course.
The bloggers on the list are pretty upset. Kristen Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan states, “I was shocked to find they were giving out my home phone and address. It feels like a major violation of privacy, but more than that it’s alarming to consider how they are obtaining this info, since I never give it out.” Christine Young feels much the same. “Being on a list of influencers is one thing,” she says, “but I’m quite upset that my personal information was being sold without my knowledge or permission.”
An anonymous tipster sent me a copy of the list, and it’s almost laughably inaccurate, particularly when it comes to the ridiculous rankings where some of the most influential bloggers around are put in the “low influence” category, and the list includes many bloggers that have shuttered their blogs, and most egregiously includes the beloved blogger Susan Niebur, whom we all lost to breast cancer nearly a year ago.
Some bloggers were so aggravated at their private information being included on the list they took to Twitter.
.@bulldogreporter, I see you are selling the cell phone #’s and home addresses of bloggers. Who do I talk to about this privacy breach?
— Kristen Howerton (@kristenhowerton) January 28, 2013
This apparently worked, because Bulldog Reporter sent this email to bloggers today:
I want you to know that because of requests by several bloggers on Bulldog Reporter’s Mommy Bloggers Contact Guide, we have decided to eliminate the address field from the list as of today, so no addresses will be distributed as part of this list. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. As you may know, Bulldog Reporter has been researching and distributing journalist contact information, as well as interviews with tens of thousands of journalists, to corporate communicators for more than 30 years. Bulldog Reporter’s Media Pro online directory contains contact information and intelligence on some 40,000 media organizations and 160,000 journalists. The company prides itself on providing a constructive bridge between journalists and communications professionals, facilitating co-operation and mutually beneficial information exchange. If you have suggestions for ways we can further improve our list of Mommy Bloggers, we would certainly welcome them.
James Sinkinson Publisher, Bulldog Reporter
I’m sure that Jim is surprised that bloggers would find this offensive; as he says above he routinely collects information about media outlets. When asked about the list he stated, “We are providing a paid service to our clients, and we don’t remove information from our lists. We of course respect those requests, but we don’t abide by them. We’ve never removed addresses from a list before.” But unlike most media outlets, bloggers typically do not have separate business addresses or phone numbers making the information Bulldog Reporter was distributing personal, NOT professional contact info. Big difference. When I asked Jim about the inclusion of people like Susan in the list even though they’ve stopped blogging or have passed away, he said “We attempt to update the blogger lists every six months, and remove bloggers when the blog is gone. We try to make our information accurate, but we’re not always successful.”
Bulldog Reporter is also using blogger’s photos in the timeline photo on their Facebook page. My friend Katherine Stone who is not included as an influencer on the list itself, ironically found her photo being used in the collage without her permission (as well as Babble’s own Catherine Connors, among others).
I think Liz of Mom 101 sums up the debacle perfectly with this tweet:
— Liz Gumbinner (@Mom101) January 29, 2013
“We are providing a paid service to our clients, and we don’t remove information from our lists. We of course respect those requests, but we don’t abide by them. We’ve never removed addresses from a list before. We attempt to update the blogger lists every six months, and remove bloggers when the blog is gone. We try to make our information accurate, but we’re not always successful.”