Revenge is a dish best served on Google Places.
Although Carrier IQ has attempted to temper the firestorm of controversy caused by the revelation of its secret mobile tracking software, it’s too late to stop a torrent of negative reviews from being posted on its Google Places page.
As the controversy over Carrier IQ’s apparent all-seeing tracking software went mainstream the week of November 28 — after it was found not only Anrdoid, but iOS devices, too — users have posted increasingly incensed, topical reviews on Carrier IQ’s Google Places page.
There are now 360 reviews on Carrier IQ’s Google Places page, most of them the lowest possible rating, 1 out of 5 stars.
“Did I agree to be wiretapped? Hmmmm… let me think… HELL NO!” wrote a user named “luke.” 11 out of 12 people found that one helpful.
More problematically for Carrier IQ, some users are even threatening lawsuits against the company in their reviews.
“I am beginning the paperwork for a lawsuit today,” wrote a user named David Renfro from Tennessee. He continues:
“I have 4 old disconnected phones from Helio, ATT, Sprint and T-Mobile. I have found the IQ software on each of these phones STILL transmitting Key-Stroke data upon use even after being disconnected from the their perspective carriers for years. I have all the original contracts I signed when acquiring these services. My lawyers cannot find even the smallest hint of this anywhere in any documents I signed. In fact, there are clauses that state “No Data will be shared with Third Party Vendors”.
This type of sudden mass bombardment of negative reviews is a form of “opinion spam,” a term Web scholars use to describe online reviews that don’t comment specifically on a product or service but the brand itself.
It is arguable whether or not Carrier IQ’s reviewers are actually opinion-spamming, given that they are commenting on the perceived effects of its product, but clearly many reviewers just want to vent their frustration at the company based on what they’ve learned about it, not through any actual experience with the Carrier IQ software — which exists in the background of upwards of 140 million mobile devices worldwide.
There are a number of companies that have popped up in recent years that offer “online reputation management,” essentially countering negative reviews with a flood of positive ones. But right now, opinion spam is the least of Carrier IQ’s problems.
On Friday, an actual class action lawsuit was filed against the company. Not to mention that on Thursday, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) demanded the company answer his questions about its product within two weeks.
That said, it is somewhat remarkable how quickly the company transitioned from being little-known outside of a few small tech and telecom circles into the pubic pariah it’s become, at least online.
And it couldn’t hurt for Carrier IQ to follow some of the free online reputation advice online, such as that offered by Tom Leung at Search Engine Land: “Listen to what your customers are saying about you online…Engage with your customers in these online communities…Incorporate customer feedback into your decision-making to improve your business.”