BUMP introduces social media for cars

BUMP introduces social media for cars

May 24, 2011 12:42:44 AM PDT
The Internet is bursting with social media sites. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have transformed the way we communicate. Now, there's a brand new social network, but this one's not for you -- it's for your car. Anyone can now send a message to any car in America.

Danielle Seaman "bumps" a blue pickup truck. That is, she sent the truck a voice-activated email message. Seaman is using BUMP.com, a new social network that connects drivers to each other through their license plates.

"I just think it's amazing how you can communicate with a car now," said Seaman.

You can because BUMP.com has set up email and voicemail boxes for every license plate in America--yours too. However, to see your messages, you'd have to claim your plate -- that is, register with BUMP.

"We've connected 250 million registered vehicles with a voicemail inbox and an email inbox so you can now send a message to any car in the country," said Mitch Thrower via Skype.

Thrower is the founder of BUMP.com hopes to break the barrier between you and the world outside your car and create the next big thing in social media.

"It's the final frontier of connectivity because we spend five years of our lives in that metal box," said Seaman.

He says BUMP mainly is a way for merchants to send coupons and discounts to drivers spotted nearby. BUMP has high speed cameras that can capture license plate data for marketing. BUMP is also the new version of honking your horn, he says, or leaving a note on a windshield.

"The way to add accountability to the roadways is to enlist crowd sourced accountability by letting drivers connect with each other, rate and rank each other," said Seaman.

Danielle's 2006 Toyota now has an online persona. It's a Facebook-style profile complete with photo and yes, she says BUMP may be a new way to meet the guy in the next car.

"It's called 'car flirting' and it happens a lot when you're driving on the road and you know, a guy will speed past you," said Seaman.

"I'm just waiting for that person, someone to bump me back and I think it will be very exciting," said Seaman.

"Now, you have a license plate you might be able to tie that back to where the person lives, and stalk them," said Deborah Pierce.

Pierce of Privacy Activism sees BUMP as the newest way for a stranger to reach into someone's life.

"How do we prevent people from claiming your license plate and pretending to be you?" asked Pierce.

"At BUMP we take privacy very seriously," said Thrower.

Thrower says BUMP automatically sets users' profiles on private, though it does share their data for marketing purposes.

"For some people they're going to see it as a huge invasion and they don't want the ads, they don't want the spam," said Pierce.

Thrower says, however, it's time to remove the isolated anonymity of the roadways.

"...an area of life where people really should be held the most accountable," said Thrower.

"I just think it's another outlet for people to use. I mean, everyone's looking for the next big thing," said Seaman.

So what is your car's email address? It's your state.platenumber@bump.com. You may want to read the company's privacy policies and terms before you decide to get your car involved in social media.

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