A controversial new website that shares details of users' credit card and online purchases with their friends on the Internet appears to have done a bit too much sharing.
A recent glitch exposed the credit and debit card numbers used in nearly 200 transactions made by four people and revealed in Google search results. Each result displayed a debit or credit card transaction, the amount spent, the location and full card number.
Blippy.com founder Philip Kaplan acknowledged the breach Friday. He said it was an isolated incident involving four users that took place months ago while the site was in beta testing. Blippy.com worked with Google to have the search results expunged and is taking steps to ensure that it never happens again, Kaplan said.
"This incident, while certainly a headache for the people involved and a headache for us, looks a lot worse than it really is," he said.
Blippy encourages people to disclose information online that used to be off limits: personal finances. Users register their credit card or online accounts to stream a record of their purchases on the site.
Its provocative premise has gotten the Palo Alto, Calif., company a lot of attention and money. It just raised $11.2 million in a second round of funding that valued Blippy.com at $46.2 million. It raised $1.6 million from angel investors in January.
The glitch raises questions about Blippy and websites like it that have latched on to the notion that people are willing to share more information online, broadcasting not just to a small group of close friends but to the public at large.
Popular social networking service Facebook Inc. this week unveiled new features that let users interact with their friends across the Web. But some members are raising privacy concerns about one feature that automatically shares their information with three third parties: review site Yelp, music site Pandora and Microsoft's online documents site Docs.com.
"In the frenzy to monetize our information and our eyeballs, companies are getting both careless and irresponsible," said privacy advocate Jeffrey Chester. He said consumers were unwittingly playing Russian Roulette with their personal data.
Blippy believers say they discover new products and good deals while connecting with their friends. Critics warn that social networking sites such as Blippy give online voyeurs and data miners too much information, putting consumers at risk for identity theft or intrusive marketing.