Evernote says it's making this change on Jan. 23, 2017, in the name of improving its service. Specifically, the company wants to boost the performance of its machine learning tool and it apparently need human eyes to make sure that tool is working properly.
In a follow-up blog post today (Dec. 15), Evernote CEO Chris O'Neill clarified that "Evernote employees do not view the content of user notes except in very limited cases... The number of employees who are authorized to view this content is extremely limited by our existing policies, and I am personally involved in defining them."
"If you choose to participate in these experimental features, you’ll enjoy a more personalized experience," O'Neill wrote. "Select Evernote employees may see random content to ensure the features are working properly but they won’t know who it belongs to. They’ll only see the snippet they’re checking. Not only that, but if a machine identifies any personal information, it will mask it from the employee."
While Evernote didn't initially specify all of the data its employees might be able to see, the service — which allows users to create notes and sync them across devices — has caught some flak from users worried about their privacy. Those users have said that notes are private and shouldn't be accessible to anyone. In turn, many users have taken to Twitter, Reddit, and other online forums to say they're leaving Evernote for another service.
Evernote might have had a sense that its users wouldn't like what it had to announce and delivered an FAQ. Many of those questions try to address concerns, with one saying, "I really don't like this change and don't want Evernote employees to see my notes. What are my options?"
Evernote's answer to that question might not assuage fears. The company said it will offer an option in its account settings to turn off its ability to access user data. But even that opt-out is limited, as there appears to be a way for employees to still access user data after the opt-out has been turned on.
To further bolster its argument, Evernote said that it's keeping the number of employees who can see user data "as small as possible." The company added that it won't sell user data or serve ads based on the note content, but did say it could "use your information to notify you about features we believe will help you get the most out of Evernote."
If you're among the Evernote users not pleased with this change, you could consider alternative note-taking apps. And our sister site Laptop has instructions on how to export your notes from Evernote.