I’ve not yet paid for a Hey.com subscription as I’m a strong believer in owning your own domain name for email, but I have to admit I that find their style of business a welcome change to the norm and reminiscent of what I can only imagine the counter-culture inspired Apple must have been like in the mid 1980s.
Take this recent blog post from their CTO:
Enter GMass, a plugin for Gmail that adds spy-pixel tracking, amongst a grab bag of other stuff. They hadn’t been on our original list of 50+ services we name’n’shame, but thanks to a new blog post where they brag about defeating protections that recipients might take to defend themselves, they came onto our radar.
It turns out the makers of this Gmail plugin have used the unimaginative steps of using URLs with no obvious parameters (we called them “friendly URLs” in 2006), encryption of those parameters (not so friendly), and setting up a CNAME record so senders can appear to be hosting the tracking images on their own server, all to try and avoid being tracked by Hey.com (the irony, right?).
Whatever your take on tracking pixels, I just think it’s great to see a company saying it how they see it and taking a strong stance. Personally, I’ve long set my email client never to automatically display images – not so much because of tracking pixels from companies like GMass, but avoid confirming my address whenever I accidentally open up spam.