THEY EXPLOIT US [Updating “He Gets Us” and Gloo Article]

THEY EXPLOIT US [Updating “He Gets Us” and Gloo Article] May 8, 2024

IMAGE: Keith Giles

Earlier this week, I wrote and posted an article here to share the story of how one El Paso woman’s personal data was mishandled by a local pastor who disclosed intimate details of her private text messages and exposed her identity to everyone in her church and anyone who listened to the online sermon which was posted to their church website.

As an update, that sermon has been taken down, and the pastor has apologized by posting an audio clip on their website.

After the article posted, I received an email from someone in Public Relations at “He Gets Us” who asked me to update my article to correct what he said were inaccuracies in my story.

His email said that “He Gets Us does not, and has not, sold data to Gloo.”

In response to that, I replied back with screenshots from the Gloo website showing specific examples of where Gloo outright admitted that the people who subscribed to their “Explorer” program would be receiving texts from local people who were responding to “He Gets Us” ads on social media.

Here are those screenshots:

[SEE TEXT HIGHLIGHTED IN BLUE]

“Because of the nature of the “He Gets Us” ads, you might also receive a connection from an Explorer that is curious or skeptical towards the message of Jesus.” 

This is admission that the Gloo Explorer program was powered by ads posted by “He Gets Us” where personal data was collected and sent to Gloo to be sold to local pastors – or anyone with a credit card and $49 to spend. [More on this below].

Here’s the other screenshot from the Gloo website. Note Item #3 in the list below:

#3. Campaign – Explorers may be connected with you through campaigns like He Gets Us, Churches Care, or other types of felt-need ads.

Clearly, Gloo is, once again, communicating to those who sign up for the Explorer feature that they will be receiving personal information and text messages from local people seeking prayer, support and counsel through campaigns including “He Gets Us”, and other organizations.

In response to these two screenshots, Greg from “He Gets Us” [now under the new ownership of a new non-profit called “Come Near”], sent me the following message today:

“Characterizing He Gets Us and Gloo as a partnership to collect user info is inaccurate. In the past (prior to February 2024), Gloo was a service provider for He Gets Us to connect willing individuals with services and local resources, including churches. Gloo would use zip code data input by the requesting person to attempt to match individuals with faith resources near to them. Regardless of how it occurred, the experience of the person in your article is regrettable. If you are still in contact with them, please share our apology for any role He Gets Us may have played in the situation. The commitment we make is to try to create a welcoming environment to invite all people one step closer to Jesus from wherever they are. Since taking ownership of the He Gets Us program in November of 2023, Come Near has been evaluating the services provided, communication methods used, and groups involved in engagement with individuals online and in the faith ecosystem through He Gets Us. Chat and any local connection options via Gloo were removed from the He Gets Us website in February of 2024.”

I have highlighted the relevant sections of Greg’s email above to verify that A), “In the past, Gloo was a service provider for “He Gets Us” to connect willing individual with services and local resources, including churches,” and B) “Come Near has been evaluating the services provided, communications methods used, and groups involved in engagement with individuals online…and any local connection options via Gloo were removed from the “He Gets Us” website in February of 2024.”

So, this means that “He Gets Us” concedes that they used to provide data to Gloo which was sold to local pastors wanting to connect with people in need of prayer and support, and that this arrangement with Gloo was terminated [or put on “pause”] as of February of this year.

This confirms the earlier statements I made in my article about the connection between “He Gets Us” and “Gloo” which provided personal data to faith organizations.

WHAT ABOUT GLOO?

Since publishing my previous article, I have continued to investigate what Gloo is doing to enable access to personal data without regard for vetting or guidelines as to how this information is to be used.

As mentioned earlier, I was able to sign up for a free Gloo account and to poke around inside their website to investigate their offerings. As of yesterday, the “He Gets Us” campaign is still listed on their website.

[SEE SCREENSHOT BELOW]

 

Greg from “He Gets Us” also thanked me for bringing these things to his attention and responded by saying this:

“We appreciate you bringing to our attention the multiple instances of He Gets Us referenced on Gloo properties. We have requested removal of these references, as all Gloo services for He Gets Us were discontinued in February 2024. Gloo did previously act as a service provider to connect willing individuals who may have seen He Gets Us content with requested services and local resources.

So, even in this response, “He Gets Us” admits that they did previously have an arrangement with Gloo “to connect willing indidvuals who may have seen He Gets Us content….”.

Gloo still has not contacted me about the article, but their helpful customer service agent, Bethany, did respond to my direct question concerning where the contact info from local people was coming from.

Here’s the email I sent to her:

“I’m curious about where local user data is collected for the Explorer program? Does it come from people who respond to ads on Social media? And what is your connection with “HE GETS US” and “K-Love”?

This was Bethany’s response:

“Gloo partners with ad campaigns to deliver Explorers looking for meaningful connection to your organization. Please feel free to learn more about which campaigns we utilize to reach Explorers by reviewing the Help Center article below.”

And the link she sent me revealed this:

That is a looong list of “partners” providing [“selling”] personal data to Gloo to fuel their “Explorers” program.

Some notables on that list are “The Newsboys” and “Casting Crowns”, along with K-LOVE, Luis Palau’s “Hope With God”, Nic Vujicic’s “Life Without Limbs” ministry, and something called “Plus Nothing” which sounds an awful like something connected to “The Family” which was featured in an excellent documentary on Netflix.

I also wanted to further confirm that Gloo will sell local personal information to anyone with a credit card and $49 to spend. See these screenshots from their website below where all they ask Explorer applicants for is a name, address, and credit card number.

 

At no point in the process does anyone at Gloo provide any sort of warning, guideline or request that personal data be kept confidential. No where do they ask those purchasing access to this data to prove that they are a licensed and ordained pastor, or an official church or ministry with a 501(c)3 tax ID number.

Even if Gloo did require this information, it would not in any way guarantee the safety of those people whose data is being sold, or the manner in which that data was used.

I see several red flags here that Gloo needs to address.

On their website, Gloo does have a “Privacy Policy” at the top of the page. But users would need to voluntarily click that to read it. It is completely passive and therefore not emphasized at any point in the transaction process.

Their Privacy Policy does say this:

How does Gloo collect and use personal information?

“As we explain in our Privacy Statement, we use personal information about individuals to provide our Services. We may collect the following data:

  • “When individuals visit our website or sign up for our Services, we receive data from these individuals themselves. We do not disclose this data in identifiable form with others, except at the request or direction of the individual, such as when individuals ask us to connect them with churches or other organizations who can help them or in the limited circumstances described in our Privacy Statement (e.g., to service providers).
  • “When a church or other organization engages us as a service provider, we process personal information the organization provides to us on the organization’s behalf, such as to create surveys and social media outreach campaigns for those organizations at the explicit instruction of the organization.
  • “We also license personal information from data providers. We use this data to provide insights and related Services to our customers. Gloo does not seek to receive names and contact information of data subjects provided by data providers. However, if a data provider were to include names or contact information, we remove this identifying information. In any event, we do not share such information in identifiable form with customers or other organizations.”

**

The problem I see with the claim in the final bullet point is that this is not entirely true. They do provide names and contact information to local churches who sign up for their “Explorers” program. This is what it is. This is all it does. This is what people are paying for when they sign up for the “Explorers” program, specifically.

Near the bottom of the Gloo “Privacy Policy” page they say this:

How does Gloo safeguard Gloo Services?
“As set out  in our Services Acceptable Use Policy, we contractually prohibit recipients of our Services from using our Services (a) for any illegal purposes, (b) to promote hate speech or incite violence, (c) to create a risk to a person’s health or safety, (d) for the advancement of political parties or election campaigns, (e) for anything malicious, fraudulent, harassing or threatening, or (f) for any covert, misleading or unfair communications, including, without limitation, any advertisements or social media campaigns that fail to identify the organization that controls or pays for the communication.”

**

This feels like boilerplate legal speak to protect themselves in the event that anyone does use the personal data they provide through their “Explorer” program. But, at no point in the sales process does Gloo emphasize this policy or ask those who purchase the program to abide by these policies.

And that, my friends, is the problem.

I will reach out to them officially to see if anyone there will respond to these concerns and provide an update in the form of another article as necessary.

As I said in the previous article, if you or someone you know has been harassed or had their identity improperly exposed online as the result of responding to an ad on social media, please contact me. I want to hear your story and help in any way I can.

**

The newest book from Keith Giles, “The Quantum Sayings of Jesus: Decoding the Lost Gospel of Thomas” releases TODAY on Amazon. Order HERE>

Keith Giles is the best-selling author of the Jesus Un series. He has appeared on CNN, USA Today, BuzzFeed, and John Fugelsang’s “Tell Me Everything.” He hosts the Second Cup with Keith podcast, and co-hosts the Apostates Anonymous podcast, and the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast.

 

 

 

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