Privacy concern: displaying emails

RDB Richard D. Bartlett Public Seen by 74

We got this feedback from a user today: "I've just noticed that when I click on anyone's name, their email address pops up. I'm not happy about this, as it's bad from a privacy point of view. I don't want my email address visible to anyone who looks.

Please at least give us the option to hide our email addresses in the settings."

Personally I agree that this is a valid privacy concern. However, there is a pragmatic reasoning behind displaying emails: it's useful a) when you want to direct-message someone, and b) when you want to invite an existing user to a new group.

I imagine this won't be an issue in the future: case a) will be fixed when we have an internal messaging system in place and case b) will be fixed when we implement Trello-style usernames.

What should we do in the meantime to patch the privacy hole without creating a UX regression? Is the user's suggestion (add a 'hide email' setting) workable?


Aaron Thornton Sun 14 Oct 2012 2:00AM

we could give the user an option to hide email adress on their user settings. Easy enough to implement as a plug until we get the new feature set finished


Jon Lemmon Sun 14 Oct 2012 8:24PM

It's only visible to people within the group. Communicating this clearly is probably the best first step. Then also providing a "hide email address" option.


Aaron Thornton Sun 14 Oct 2012 8:48PM

Great point Jon. That would make me feel more comfortable.


Benjamin Knight Sun 14 Oct 2012 10:01PM

Agreed on both points Mr Lemmon, I think that sounds like some really sensible first steps.


Jon Lemmon Mon 15 Oct 2012 6:23AM

I'm thinking for now we just be clear that the email is only displayed to group members.

@Richard - would you be interested in mocking this up or just adding it to the app? It'd just be something in the popup like "(Email is only viewable to members of this group)"


Richard D. Bartlett Tue 16 Oct 2012 9:58PM

Follow up from the user concerned: "...If it's only group members who can see email addresses, that's no so bad for the time being, but if the email addresses can be hidden once you've got your private message system working, that would be great, and an option in the settings 'allow users to send me private messages [or 'emails', as it is currently]' would be great, to give us the choice whether people can contact us directly."


Matthew Bartlett Wed 17 Oct 2012 10:37PM

@RDB, do we really want to add private messaging? Feels to me like Yet Another Inbox. I'm assuming your talking asynchronous — not chat (which I'm all in favour of).


Richard D. Bartlett Wed 17 Oct 2012 10:43PM

Asynchronous vs. instant messaging is an interesting question in light of e.g. Facebook and Yammer integrating their chat and mail into one box with two interfaces.

I'm not hearing an immediate need for Loomio to implement either, to be honest.


Benjamin Knight Wed 17 Oct 2012 11:48PM

I think @mentions will do heaps to relieve any need for a private messaging system, at least in the intermediate term


Danyl Strype Tue 23 Oct 2012 2:39AM

Please don't create a private inbox in Loomio. We use an email address to subscribe to Loomio in the first place. For most users, that's all the inbox they'll ever need. However, a private messaging system that allows me to email another Loomio user without ever knowing their email address (until they decide to give it to me) would be great, and would deal to the privacy issue your concerned user raised.

I do think realtime chat would be useful to users of Loomio. For example, Loomio with chat (text and voice) would replace everything the TimeBankers have been using Skype for. I suggest instead of writing it from scratch, you find some existing RoR chat code which implements open standards (eg XMPP/ Jabber, IRC, Mumble/Murmur), and plug it in as an optional module.


Chris Taklis Thu 22 Aug 2013 11:19AM

that is a big problem to some members privacy.

I suggest to be an option to each member can hide if he/she wish his/her email from public list of memberships.


Poll Created Thu 22 Aug 2013 11:22AM

Members choose if their email will be hidden or public listed. Closed Sat 31 Aug 2013 10:42PM

by Chris Taklis Mon 27 Feb 2017 10:26PM

Passed. We wait now from developers to make it real.

To be an option on users settings, and each member choose if his/her email will be public listed or hidden on membership list of the group he/she is member.


Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 100.0% 9 RG JV BK DS ST CT Z VM DU
Abstain 0.0% 0  
Disagree 0.0% 0  
Block 0.0% 0  

9 of 276 people have voted (3%)


Joshua Vial
Thu 22 Aug 2013 4:10PM

this should be a priority fix


Fri 23 Aug 2013 9:46PM

yes, with priority


Robert Guthrie
Fri 30 Aug 2013 1:46AM

Thanks for bringing this up.


Danyl Strype
Fri 30 Aug 2013 5:58AM

privacy is good! Also, some people may use one email address for Loomio, but prefer to receive emails from group members at a different address.


Chris Taklis Sat 15 Feb 2014 3:59PM

any progress of this???

We (a coalition of Direct Democracy in Greece and Pirates) want to use a loomio for a project for our prefectures. And it is big problem now, because everyone will have access to others email.

That privacy concerns everyone. If the project succeeds, we are talking about maybe thousand members, and that is a huge database of email who everyone can use it as he/she wants, and not always for good purpose.

We want at least the option to groups to hide the email so no one can see it... (or can see it only the coordinators).


Richard D. Bartlett Sun 16 Feb 2014 4:44AM

I'm going to prioritise it @christaklis.


Chris Taklis Sun 16 Feb 2014 7:00AM

thanks Richard.


Richard D. Bartlett Sun 16 Feb 2014 10:13PM

Just like that! @christaklis emails are not shown on user profiles now. Thanks to the quick surgery of @robertguthrie!

If you are a group coordinator, you can see the emails of your group members on the Members page.


Chris Taklis Mon 17 Feb 2014 6:46AM

excellent... and very quick...