Something odd happened to me today, whilst gobbling down some tasty Nando's I was tweeted by Dave Furf:
@divya @RobSterlini @samihah @mashaaaaal @jackiebackwards y'all know your avatars are being used for testimonials on @rise's website right?— dave furf ♫★ (@furf) January 3, 2014
And when I got home I had a look. Sure as day, there I was, but hold on. I'm not called Olivier, I'm not 31, and I'm not from Canada. Long lost twin? I think not.
Definitely my face, but I've not “done a lot of research on diets”.
I wasn't happy about all this, and I posted a few tweets about it all both to Rise and Suneel Gupta.
They've subsequently removed my image, and replaced it with another John Doe, except he's not John Doe. He's Garth Humbert. Still not Olivier.
Now before I go any further, I'd like to make a point of separating my issues into two parts. 1. firstly with uifaces.com who have me down as an ‘authorized’ face, when I have signed up to no such thing. 2. secondly with Rise for using a face and a testimonial that don't match.
Firstly – UI Faces
I'm not sure how this mix up happened, but I only ever signed up to be used on mockups. I loved the concept, and have found myself looking for real-life avatars to be used in mockups in the past before having actual users avatars to work with. Regardless, I didn't sign up to be authorized, and in a way it's not Rise's fault that they used my picture without my consent.
However, I think that having to find out that I've been used on a live site (regardless of a sign up) is wrong. My Twitter is quite clearly labeled on uifaces.com; would it have been too much to have shot me a little heads up? What if I disagreed with dieting? Would I want to have my face on that site? Not really. You can see how it might be preferable to both parties to have a little bit of a courtesy call. That said, UI Faces don't mandate that, so – again – I'm not hugely mad at Rise for that.
Secondly – Rise
This is the point that I care a bit more about. Using someone else's face for a testimonial that they've not given is something I wholeheartedly disagree with. As a consumer (not necessarily of Rise's) I feel betrayed by a company misappropriating quotes and faces. It feels wrong, and dishonest. These are all only opinions, so I'll say again that Rise didn't do anything wrong specifically, but when it's my face I think that I'm allowed to have feelings about it.
I've since been in contact with Suneel:
“Weight loss is a very personal journey, and while our clients were happy to share their success stories, they preferred that we not use their images on the site.” From an email, but also reiterated via Twitter (@Rise)
I appreciate his fast response in getting back to me, and agree that if a happy client has asked for their face to be obscured or omitted, then that's fine, but replacing them with someone else's? Not so happy about that one.
In a follow up email, Suneel has also said that Rise plans to remove the photos all together:
“Our next step is to remove those photos entirely.” Via email
That's something that I'm much happier with. Not using faces until they have clients that are happy to allow them to be used feels like the right thing to do.
A bit of a conclusion
This was a bit of a weird one because I've never had to deal with something like this before.
I also want to reiterate one last time that I'm really happy with the way that Rise have dealt with the situation, and with me. I'm glad they've taken my criticism (which didn't break my resolution) on board, and are making a change.
I've asked to be removed from UI Faces all together so as to avoid any kind of mixup like this in the future.
And lastly I was somewhat interested (following a dinner table discussion with my brothers) what others' opinions were. Were they wrong to use images of people that didn't give the testimonials? Unfortunately this blog doesn't have comments yet, so you'll have to drop me a tweet if you want to give your opinion. Also, if you'd make it known whether you'd be ok with me linking your tweet on here, so that I can highlight a few opinions.
The thoughts of others
Got the reaction of a few people on Twitter:
@RobSterlini @brandonjcscott nice read. I agree that a testimonial should have the persons face who have it, or none at all. Otherwise it— Ben Hubbard (@benhubbard434) January 3, 2014
@RobSterlini questions the integrity of that testimonial— Ben Hubbard (@benhubbard434) January 3, 2014
@RobSterlini Good article buddy, would have been a lot more peed off about the fake testimonials. Their excuse is very weak IMO.— Ryan Murphy (@ryanAmurphy) January 3, 2014
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