CEO of Block Party App Exposes Serious Privacy Concerns Within Own Service

Recently, the founder of Block Party App, Tracy Chou hosted a Reddit Ask Me Anything, where users can literally ask anything to popular CEOs and celeberties. Things got a little heated between CEO Tracy Chou, and Reddit users.

Recently, the founder of Block Party App, Tracy Chou hosted a Reddit Ask Me Anything, where users can literally ask anything to popular CEOs and celebrities. Things got a little heated between CEO Tracy Chou, and Reddit users.

Her Introduction

I’m currently the founder and CEO of Block Party, a consumer app to help solve online harassment. Previously, I was a software engineer at Pinterest, Quora, and Facebook.

I’m most known for my work in tech activism. In 2013, I helped establish the standard for tech company diversity data disclosures with a Medium post titled “Where are the numbers?” and a Github repository collecting data on women in engineering.

Then in 2016, I co-founded the non-profit Project Include which works with tech startups on diversity and inclusion towards the mission of giving everyone a fair chance to succeed in tech.

Over the years as an advocate for diversity, I’ve faced constant/severe online harassment. I’ve been stalked, threatened, mansplained and trolled by reply guys, and spammed with crude unwanted content. Now as founder and CEO of Block Party, I hope to help others who are in a similar situation. We want to put people back in control of their online experience with our tool to help filter through unwanted content.

Ask me about diversity in tech, entrepreneurship, the role of platforms to handle harassment, online safety, anything else.

Then the privacy talk rightfully came to light.

Privacy Talk

In one instance, CEO Tracy Chou responded: “our beta product lets you filter what you see in your @ mentions on twitter, putting hidden content into a folder on block party that you can view later if you choose to, or delegate access to helpers to review on your behalf. the filters are heuristics and we do not use shared allow/deny lists though users have been asking for being able to share lists, similar to the way blocktogether worked – we’re considering it. our privacy policy is a standard one we got from our original lawyers, though candidly i switched counsel later because their guidance didn’t feel values-aligned. for a pre-seed startup with very limited capital, though, i didn’t think it was worth the time, energy, and money to fine-tune our legal docs with later counsel before we had a product and users. as general company philosophy, and one of the reasons why i even started the company, we want to put the end user’s concerns first. when we have the resources to do so i want to have our legal docs reflect these values as well.”

One user replied:

If you genuinely respect the privacy of your users, then your internal policies regarding actually handling private data should already reflect that. And if that’s the case, altering your privacy policy to more accurately reflect your data collection/retention policies is pretty much just a matter of writing down what those policies are. Updating a privacy policy isn’t that expensive. Update it yourself and run the changes by your lawyers. Until then, everyone has to assume that your internal policies match the ones you claim in the privacy policy, and as a result everyone should do their best to avoid your sites and services if they value their privacy at all.”

Another user: “Perhaps by putting end-users first, you should start by having the legal docs reflect your values.”

I can say at the very least, I will never use Block Party App. Absolutely not. Her answers seem way to vague and non-caring of privacy concern. To me, privacy is everything even if one has nothing to hide. While we all have something to hide, our private conversations, banking information. This topic is not to be taken lightly, even by some lame duck CEO with a clear vision of being rich while making that money by selling data. Remind you of anyone? Facebook, perhaps? “FREE” but they sell your data right under your nose. It’s disgusting.

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Cybersecurity Engineer | Website

Jordan is a Cybersecurity Engineer who has consulted in numerous sectors such as finance, education, manufacturing, and public sector organizations within the United States.