Gossip, Anon

If you thought every possible aspect of "social networking" had been exhausted on the Web, think again.

This week I met with Rocky Mirza, the CEO of a startup called Dbuz. Mirza is the person behind several other online ventures, including virtual worlds site Weblo.com. His new site, which launched on March 28, is a free, anonymous gossip site. The idea is that you can write anythng positive or negative about someone you know and post it on the site–anonymously (in other words, without fear of reprisal).

To post a comment, you need to know the person's e-mail address, and when comments are entered, the person is notified via e-mail. Should the remarks prove to be, well, less than positive, the subject of said remarks can make the comment private so that no one else can see it. Dbuz assumes that most comments will come from people who actually know the person in question (that's why you can't simply search the site for someone without knowing their e-mail address), and surprisingly, Mirza says that most comments turn out to be positive.

I asked Mirza a lot about the potential for abuse, but in several months of testing, he feels the company has covered most of the possibly nasty scenarios. For example, if all you try to do is flame someone, the site will stop accepting posts from you. Furthermore, if you choose to be, well, less articulate than you should be, the site will reject your post. Call it the modern day equivalent of George Carlin's 7 dirty words you can't say on the radio.

Dbuz could prove to be very viral, considering that you can upload your entire address book, for example, to the site. Then people are notified they've been added to Dbuz–and who isn't going to race there to see what people are saying about them. There's also a business angle: companies can claim their profiles (for a fee) and then customers and clients can see what people are saying about the company. Of course, you could also end up going there only to discover that no one's saying anything about you at all.

But these days, maybe that's a good thing.


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About jquain

Technology reporter, writer, and television correspondent, JQ has been covering the computer, communications, and consumer electronics industries for more than 25 years.A contributor to The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, PC Magazine, U.S. News & World Report and many other publications, JQ appears on CBS News television program Up to the Minute and on Fox Business.
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