Privacy
For $24 Podio gives you the names, faces, and contact details of their premium users

by Markus Tacker

Privacy: For $24 Podio gives you the names, faces, and contact details of their premium users

I've been a big fan of Podio for many years and I recently discovered a nice feature: once you sign up to Podio and pay for the Premium Plan: you become connected through more than 2,600 other premium users through becoming part of the same Network in order to use their automation product globiflow.

This gives you access to extended personal information:

  • Full name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • City
  • Personal description / About
  • Photo
  • State
  • Country
  • Skype
  • Location
  • Address
  • Postcode
  • Website
  • IM

The information is presented in a nicely formatted way, so I was able to extract the data for all users within a few minutes in a nice spreadsheet.

I think this is highly problematic because this provides a gold mine for phishing attacks: I could find members who belong to the same organization and use Podio as a pretext to send them arbitrary emails (Hey Bratt, I shared this Podio View with you!) containing dangerous links.

Two months ago I reached out to the Podio support

I asked them to remove this feature, however they claim that this is perfectly fine.

I wrote:

When you purchase Podio premium, and activate Globiflow, you are joining the Globiflow network, which will make over 2,600 connections available.
See also https://help.podio.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/360000702471-Mass-Delete-Connections
This is a serious violation of user privacy since the connections show Name, E-Mail, Photo and Phone of the job Title is exposed to anyone (who payed $24).
Please remove this feature immediately.

This is the answer I received:

I understand your concern of having so many connections added to your profile. But this is not necessarily a violation of user privacy because the profile details that a user is adding is an information that would be publicly available only to other podio users you are connected to.
Please refer to: https://help.podio.com/hc/en-us/articles/201019378-Updating-and-editing-your-profile which states that the profile details will be visible to other users as well. It is similar to having your contact and profile information added to your social or business collaboration platforms like Linkedin.

No, this is not what I would expect from a paid product like Podio. Especially looking at the linked article, it does not state that "profile details will be visible to other users" but instead uses "colleagues".

Having a completed Podio profile really helps you and your colleagues "see" who you're working together with.

Colleagues are by definition not all podio users. With colleagues I (or the manager of the podio account I belong to) has control over who sees my data. This is not the case with the "connection" feature where I do not have ways to control who sees my data.

I can only encourage Premium Podio users to educate themselves about this "feature" and reach out to the Podio support so this disclosure of extensive personal information will be stopped.

Update 4. July 2019

I received a reply from Podio support to the original request I made two month ago:

I understand your point of view here and thanks a lot for bringing this up.
We are working towards making this more transparent to users so that users can decide what information they would want to keep public.

Will be releasing out information once we have more clarity on the plan and approach.

Update 8. July 2019

Podio responded to the Twitter thread: