The popular information-organizing web service, Evernote, thought it was announcing a great idea last week. It is adding machine learning capabilities to make the service work more intuitively. However, what turned out to be the company’s clumsy announcement of their plan caused many users to push back hard on Evernote’s privacy policy changes that accompanied the machine learning plans.

The company ignited a firestorm among its users when it announced a privacy policy change that would have required users to open up all their notes for analysis in order to take advantage of forthcoming machine learning features.
Blair Hanley Frank
IDG News Service

Within two days of the announcement, Evernote backed down on their privacy change that gave the company permission to access any content created and saved by its users. “Evernote is reaffirming its commitment to keep privacy at the center of what we do. As a result, we will not implement the previously announced Privacy Policy changes that were scheduled to go into effect January 23, 2017,” the company said in a statement on its blog.

“We announced a change to our privacy policy that made it seem like we didn’t care about the privacy of our customers or their notes. This was not our intent, and our customers let us know that we messed up, in no uncertain terms. We heard them, and we’re taking immediate action to fix it,” said company CEO Chris O’Neill.

O’Neill indicated the company was still moving forward on machine learning projects but told , “If any human is going to be involved, it’s going to be on an opt-in basis, period” O’Neill told IDG’s Blair Hanley Frank.

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