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Facebook hit two billion users today and SugarCRM reminded us you are Zuck's product

Sugar's 'Hint' scraping service populates sales profiles by scraping 70 data sources

By Simon Sharwood, 28 Jun 2017

Facebook's hit two billion users. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to his creation on Wednesday to share the news.

The company later revealed that “Each day, more than 175 million people share a Love reaction, and on average, over 800 million people like something on Facebook. More than 1 billion people use Groups every month.”

The milestone coincided with a rather less popular organisation – SugarCRM – offering up a neat demonstration of Facebook's impact with a new service called “Hint” that it styles a “Relationship Intelligence” product because when fed scant personal data like name, email and employer's name it “automatically searches the web for personal and company information, delivering a wealth of information so customer-facing employees will quickly learn more about their contacts.” Whatever Hint finds populates a profile in SugarCRM's eponymous software.

Hint scrapes “a broad range of social data sources so users can quickly and efficiently learn more about their prospects to establish a productive relationship.” SugarCRM tells us the service uses that “70 different data records, including social and government records that are publicly available online” and its demo screenshot features Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter prominently.

Whether SugarCRM is scraping the data from HTML or has deals with Facebook isn't clear, but the company told The Register it does “have commercial relationships to support Hint, however they are unable to disclose the names of these data providers at this time.” You pay for those relationships: Hint costs US$15/user/month.

SugarCRM is far from alone in doing this: Microsoft bought LinkedIn to mine its data and starred piping it into its own Dynamics CRM within months of the acquisition.

Which is hardly the point, as whether or not SugarCRM is buying the data that makes Hint hum, there's every chance you gave it away to Facebook, or another social network, or inadvertently ticked a box that means a broker can now sell information about you to anyone with an open chequebook.

Which we mention not to deride the extraordinary achievement that is Facebook signing up two billion members or SugarCRM's new tool. Rather, it's a reminder that Facebook and its rivals have ushered in an age in which data is routinely collected, is assumed to be on tap and is valuable. And the resource that makes it all possible is you, every time you offer up a slice of yourself to a product that others now sell. ®

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing