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Mea Culpa

December 4th, 2009

Here I am inside fm_generate_button

The recent LA Times article on Brightkite has created quite a negative response from the community, and for that I truly apologize. The intent of the article theme wasn’t to insult our female users, rather just the opposite: to say how important the female population is to the growth of the community. Obviously, that didn’t come across, and the analogies I shared didn’t paint the right picture of how we’ve sought to attract women to the service.

The theme of my conversation with the journalist was about building a social community in which women can feel safe when posting a location. We’ve adjusted functionality and the user interface and placed greater emphasis on privacy controls – which women told us were really important to overcome fears and issues with location-based services.

Clearly, I did not do a good job of articulating this or my feelings to the LA Times. For that, I deeply apologize and endeavor to be more conscious of the impact of my words – to our entire Brightkite user base, and especially to the women that have made it such an amazing community.

Jonathon Linner, CEO

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Posted by jonathon at 3:16 PM in Brightkite, Community

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0

Gregz

  • 359 weeks ago

And why does the intelligent & smart @jlinner not explain this prior to banning long time members? ... Knee jerk reaction just as his members/users had? ... Only thing is we can't delete him in haste as he did to us. ... Just my thoughts.. At least me stated our problem/distaste @jlinner just waved his tyranical power due to opposition and snuffed out who HE deemed offensive ... Poor move on his part

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-1

JimiKeys

  • 359 weeks ago

Articulation: FAIL!

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Joel

  • 359 weeks ago

I don't understand how you can say you "placed greater emphasis on privacy controls" when your BK 2.0 release actually caused more privacy issues. Also, aying that "I did not do a good job of articulating" is quite the understatement when you're saying comments such as "I'm sitting with underage girls all day". Then to top it off, you're deleting accounts for users that are posting negative feedback. I was previously an avid BK user until the whole fiasco of your 2.0 version. If that wouldn't have been enough to make me delete my account this surely would have been.

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dani29

  • 359 weeks ago

thank you for posting this. Perhaps you should have written the LA Times article yourself, this is far more eloquent than the article in which you were quoted.

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slimfender

  • 359 weeks ago

I agree with Joel about the privacy control issues. Something definitely needs to be rectified in that situation. However, @Joel, accounts weren't being deleted for simple negative feedback. It was outright slander, and in direct violation of the TOS.

@Linner I think this apology is an excellent start, but something more needs to be done to show BrightKite's dedication to safety and privacy. This obviously was lost with the new 2.0 rollout.

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2 replies · active 359 weeks ago

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D_Almighty

  • 359 weeks ago

Wow you really think that "apology" is enough? I'm not you ever so precious young hot female and I was offended by that article.

Enjoy watching your analytics show how Brightkite is slowly going down the drain.

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+3

Mark Milian

  • 359 weeks ago

I wrote the Times feature and thought I would throw in my two cents after being contacted by quite a few Brightkite users.

I've had lunch with Jonathon, and we've chatted over the phone and by email numerous times. Out of dozens of tech CEOs I've met, Jonathon is among the smartest. I appreciate talking with him because he's insightful, clever and funny.

I'm a little confused as to why this internal uproar has surfaced nearly a month after the story was published. Regardless, many of the snap reactions I'm reading seem to be rooted in misunderstanding.

I try to inject a degree of humor, sarcasm and a frequency of jabbing tongue into cheek in my writing. I regret that the humor may not have come across for some readers and appears to have, in turn, offended. Tone and conversational depth are generally difficult to confine into a few quotes.

Too many people seem to be drawing sexual connotations where there are none. Most notably, the part about "underage girls" in the focus group scenario. Jonathon, as I recall, was talking specifically about younger girls, like the college students who are among his target audience. No Chris Hansen needed here. He followed that statement talking about how he has a wife and how the girls just laugh at him because he acts old. I just didn't think it was relevant to the story to make him look like a dork.

There is one aspect I wish I had clarified initially -- an incorrect conclusion which several readers seem to have drawn. Jonathon never gave the impression that he was positioning Brightkite as a dating site. Unlike others in the space, Brightkite seems to focus on circles of friends, like Facebook, and improving privacy controls, which I highlighted in the original story.

That said, I still think the bar analogy is apt. There are other things to do at a bar besides hook up. An environment filled with a highly social, attractive women is generally a fun place to be. Social networks, like clubs, are great meeting places for sexual and platonic relationships, alike. It's only natural to target the most desirable audience -- the social butterflies -- and Jonathon is smart to have recognized this.

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5 replies · active 359 weeks ago

+1

srndur

  • 359 weeks ago

Darn, if only I knew someone who was an attractive woman AND highly social who completely understood how to use Brightkite and ask her opinion before revamping the website. Or before the Sh*t hit the Fan with this article. Or with negative backlash. Darn, I guess I'll go on to Brightkite and see if I find any.

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4 replies · active 359 weeks ago

+2

Jo Michele

  • 359 weeks ago

Dear Mr. Linner,

What I want to know is why you chose to wait 20 days and until this situation BLEW UP all over the internet before you decided to come out and say these things? Why, as the CEO, would you decide to take a "let sleeping dogs lie" approach to the article in question? Your reputation is like a copyright or a trademark, it's only valid as long as you defend it. Jonathon Linner, you let this article stand for 20 days without defending either your own reputation or the reputation of the company that you represent. That was an embarrassing bad decision on your part. It blew up in your face. It ended with my account being deleted, for TOS violations that I admit to and a lot of people following me out the door. Mind you, I never asked or encouraged anyone to follow me.

Here is MY mea culpa. I am truly and deeply sorry for obviously going over the line with my posts last night. I am as sorry for my poor decisions as you say you are for yours. I'm also sorry that it took such actions on my part to open your eyes to the mess you had created and make you take the appropriate action to correct it.

So, now my only question is, if you truly want forgiveness for your actions, are you willing to forgive those that acted against you? It seems that it wouldn't be right to ask for one without offering the other.

Signed,

A Tech-savvy, intelligent woman who didn't need Brightkite dumbed down for her.

PS -

Dear Mr. Milian,

If this article was your attempt at journalistic humor, you should consider finding a new career path. I know it may be hard to believe, but not everyone on the planet reads the LA Times on a daily basis. As is common with articles online, it can often take days, weeks or sometimes even months before an article like yours crosses the desks of those that will find interest in it's subject matter. In this case it took about 20 days. If Brightkite had seen the humor in the article, they themselves would have linked too it on their blog, as they often do when they're mentioned in favorable articles. They did not find your account of Linner's statements accurate or humorous, but instead of calling you out on it they, in their own misguided judgement, chose to ignore it and HOPE that the community would never see it. It was a gamble they took and lost. Your article is not tongue in cheek, nor is it humorous. Your portrayal of Mr. Linner was creepy and disgusting and has caused great harm to him and the company that he represents. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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4 replies · active 357 weeks ago

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Dan Shargel

  • 359 weeks ago

Someone delete @erickamarie??? What the did she do to deserve that? Ok, @jomichele I understand to a point (Sorry Jo but you did mention oral copulation and the CEO) but what the heck did @erickamarie do??

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2 replies · active 359 weeks ago

+1

Robb Silverberg

  • 359 weeks ago

I just hope BK doesn't try to put all their eggs into one basket . I hope they realize that there is more than one "type" of person that uses BK ; from the middle-aged housewife, to the young executive, to gay/lesbian community. Many businesses have failed because they focus on one area to the exclusion of all others. To use the bar analogy that Mr. Milian used , if I don't feel welcome when I go into a bar , I can always take my business to the next bar down the street. ....

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BK Ops

  • 359 weeks ago

We are working on a seperate issue with some numbers that ATT sent over as deactivates, I'm still verifiying but that may be why @erickamarie 's account is having issues.... will be working to restore.

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Dan Shargel

  • 359 weeks ago

Ah ok thanks.

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Dan Shargel

  • 359 weeks ago

And Robb is right. There's a pretty wide demographic here so don't put all your eggs in one basket.

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Jo michele piss off

  • 359 weeks ago

Why do you still insist on causing problems? Get over it and get the hell out. If you're so smart and tech savvy why don't you build up your own social network full of annoying, cussing folks who have nothing better to do with their time but attack someone who really hasn't done anything wrong. Your not so cleverly worded comebacks are getting stale and you've been given your notice. Now leave and don't come back. That goes for anyone else who thinks BrightKite need the Jo michele gang. You've been a poison to a service that is trying to grow and you feel that you've been left behind because soon the kiteups aren't going to be full of lifes rejects. Oh no the CEO just gave some kind of idea as to what the key demographic is for BrightKite and you're pissed because you ain't in it.

BLOps you did the right thing removing those accounts. Those who find it shocking, deal with it or get the hell out.

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Gregz

  • 359 weeks ago

with AT&T being the greater user base due to iphone ... ponders why only the select few got the boot? The investors really should look at making Martin May and/or Brady in charge again since the Linner rein BK has been progressively falling fast!! To avoid a HUGE crash and burn I personally think BK should be handed back over to the brains behind the initial success ... but thats my humble opinion despite possible ban and or backlash from the current miss guided CEO... just saying

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WiredPig

  • 359 weeks ago

I could not find 'slander' in the TOS. I even searched for it... Maybe libel and falls under defamatory (that is in the TOS). In law, defamation is communication to third parties of false statements about a person that injure the reputation of or deter others from associating with that person.

From the TOS - "(iv) is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, vulgar or offensive; (v) promotes discrimination, bigotry, racism, hatred, harassment or harm against any individual or group; (vi) is violent or threatening or promotes violence or actions that are threatening to any other person;"

If that's the case then there are a lot of posts to BK which, depending on how your glasses are tinted, will fall under the definitions you choose to apply for the words that are used. Some of the words have clear meanings while others do not.. As an example, if the users were booted for being 'offensive' then the word needs to be defined in the TOS in a non-ambiguous way or be removed. The term 'offensive' is subjective at best and at worst is vague and open to interpretation. The same goes for obscene. I find the middle finger to be offensive, others dont.

As for ATT being at fault for causing the third party to loose her account, I find very odd as it came right after her posting about BK wanting to "be your pimp". I'm not talking about @erickamarie as referenced in BK Ops post, but rather about @linuxchic.

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2 replies · active 359 weeks ago

+2

Eyebee

14p

  • 359 weeks ago

I'm male, and married, and not interested in stalking anyone or dating etc. I think BK is great for using a review site - e.g john's bar in main street, a few pics, and comments, and you'll know if you're in my town that you can head to John's bar yourself if you like the look of it.

Of course it can be good for meeting people too. I'm have no problem with hooking up with people for a beer or coffee etc. The only addresses that I keep vague are my home address and my friends homes unless they say otherwise.

I didn't see the article in the L.A Times. It's not a publication that I usually read, being on the east coast.

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ErickaMarie

  • 359 weeks ago

Any idea when this verification will be finished and my account will be restored? I notice that @sprouticus account is back, and if I may ask, who else was effected by this ATT&T glitch?

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+2

simplyRik

  • 359 weeks ago

Here is my issue since we are putting it out there. I am a married 42 year old man with 2 children. I came into BrightKite to get away from places like Yahoo360, Multiply, Plurk and mySpace because they all seemed far too juvenile to me. They were not polished, nor multi-functional. I gave all of them up when I found BrightKite. Initially for the functionality, look and feel of BrightKite, then I made friends. Real friends, not hook-ups, not people looking to find something on the side, but people who could hold logical conversations about things I was interested in. People who interacted in a two-way threaded conversation, not just throwing out their singular thoughts and moving on. That was the BrightKite others and myself came to enjoy.

I came into the game later than others who took BK to the real world through Kite-ups and organizing cruises to put faces to names. All the while interacting with the BK staff to provide feedback and feel as if they were contributing to something bigger than us all. Then slowly that door began to close. While we were making jabs at twitter and their fail-whale issues, BK started having their own issues, specifically around an upgrade none of us understood. The feeling was that BK was turning away from supporting its communities.

Now this article is published which provided more insight not into the bad presentation of a young CEO, but more to the strategy and direction that he intends to take a solid product. That direction isolates me and others like me and implies that we are now the secondary focus of their operation through segregating their members and slicing them into essentially Young vs. Older and Male vs. Female. References like "Club" are a clear indication that the focus is on using sex to increase market share. Not sex in the physical sense, although that is what drives it, but sex in terms of using women as bait to draw in young men. You can say it however you want, that is the sales approach period.

I don't want a "Club" I was quite happy logging in every night and perching myself on a stool at the "BAR" and having a night of cool conversation void of any sexual innuendos or desires. So, having said all of this, I would just like to say that now that the future strategy of BK has been put out there and I don't fit the target demographic, I think it may be time for me to step away from the pub being torn down to make way for the club life. Oh and simply being smart, does not a good CEO make if he is willing to sacrifice his base for a strategy which has proven itself to not last.

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2 replies · active 359 weeks ago

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nunyas

  • 359 weeks ago

At one time, I was probably one of the most avid users here, pre-merge, pre-2.0.

I see this from both sides. I've been in startup land before. I know how it works. Limbo's still on the hook with investors. Brightkite has promise. Lots of users. A good start in the location-aware space. yay. Your job is to get revenue or exit large. Linner, you're a strategist. You've got a background. I think you know what you're doing from a startup leadership perspective. You think pretty faces will get the hits. I think you understand the userbase you want to attract. Maybe you're right. I don't know. I'm not a strategist.

I don't think you understand your current (or shall I say recent?) userbase: People like me (who've been largely silent while watching things go to hell in a handbag since the acquisition) and some of the others who have been most vocal with their acerbic commentary.

I'm sad, and I'm probably not staying around much longer. My checkins are getting infrequent and I basically use your service to shove statuses and photos to other networks anyways. I can do it with ping or build my own widget to do it my way. I don't really care. Peace out.

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BK Ops

  • 359 weeks ago

@ErickaMarie -- I've checked, you were effected and I'm working on restoring what will be an older state of your account, but should have *most* of your posts from the past

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Michael G Galli

  • 359 weeks ago

Why would a users Mobile Device Number have ANYTHING to do with a web based, social networking site? Hint: It does not. While I may NOT agree in the manner @jomichele expressed herself last night, or even the basis of her opinion, it is just that, HERS. I find it disgusting that you people feel so threatened by a FEW users that you have resorted to acting like childish SysOps from the bygone BBS era.

In respect to @erickamarie, she is someone who is a valued user of this community and to use some "ATT non-service" excuse, is just that, an excuse. I am a former AT&T Mobility Employee and Technology expert and I can tell you what you people have done not only is wrong but ILLEGAL.

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2 replies · active 359 weeks ago

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Danielle Morrill

  • 359 weeks ago

This brand has been going to the dogs for awhile now, which is sad considering it was once one of the freshest brands in the LBS space. I think Brightkite, like so many of the other companies in its space, is struggling to figure out how to monetize. Brightkite feels like an indie band that just signed a major label and then released an EP with a sound that was trying to attract pop listeners in the broader market, while also mildly appeasing diehard fans. And it isn't working.

On the flip slide, BK can't really continue to exist if it doesn't make money and I think the founding team probably wasn't very concerned with figuring out how to build a real lasting business around BK. This is the frustration of all social networks where we users expect it to be free. Would you all pay $5 a month to have a BK where the ops team listened to your complaints, built the features you asked for, and respectfully nutured the community?

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4 replies · active 359 weeks ago

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Jo michele piss off

  • 359 weeks ago

Greg you're not going to get one as you do not deserve one. Get off your high horse and go infect some other social network with your childish crap.

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