Feeds

Tagged.com pays $750,000 over deceptive emails

The fine line between ambition and spam

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Tagged.com has paid $750,000 in penalties to New York and Texas after the states accused the social networking outfit of abusing its members' contact lists and spamming millions with deceptive promotional emails.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said on Monday his office reached an agreement with Tagged.com to pay $500,000 in "penalties and costs" to the state and to promise compliance with "industry-leading measures" regarding the fiddling of personal information of its members.

The company also settled a similar dispute with the state of Texas for $250,000.

Back in June, the New York AG announced he was fixing to sue Tagged for allegedly having devised an illegal plan to attract new members and obtain their email addresses. Cuomo said the social website sent out emails that appeared to come from their members' personal email accounts saying they posted private photos online for friends to view. The recipient had to register for Tagged in order to access the photos, which often didn't exist, which allowed the website to raid more user contact lists.

Tagged suspended the campaign supposedly in response to user complaints, but not before more than 60 million emails had been sent, according to the Cuomo's office.

"Unsuspecting users had no idea that Tagged had hijacked the email addresses of their colleagues, families and friends for the purpose of blasting them with spam," said the Attorney General in a statement. "This agreement holds that the company accountable for its invasion of privacy and puts the proper safeguards in place to keep it from happening again."

Cuomo is notoriously keen on prosecuting technology companies he feels have stepped out of line. In the recent past, he has slapped lawsuits and fines on Symantec and McAfee for auto-renewals, Dell for failing to provide "timely onsite repair" per its service contracts, and Intel for just plain being a monopolist.

This time, Cuomo's beef was that the invitations were made to appear as if they had been sent directly from members' personal email accounts rather than from Tagged.com.

Over at the Tagged blog, CEO Greg Tseng chalks it up to a "small but vocal minority" that felt its email campaign was "too ambitious" in its recruitment efforts.

"Despite differences of opinion about Tagged's intentions, we did acknowledge that the membership drive aggravated some customers. We also agree that Tagged had a responsibility to make sure people who interact with Tagged have a positive experience. To that end, in a meeting with Cuomo's office, we proposed substantial modifications to our process," Tseng wrote.

The website's reforms will include providing clear and obvious disclosure when requesting to access a new user's email contacts, and no longer accessing those contacts or sending messages on behalf of the member without their permission. Also before sending out email invites, Tagged will verify the emails with new members to make sure they don't inadvertently send invitations to everyone on their contact list — which by all accounts, is a major, major interweb foul.

For those scratching their head about very existence of such a thing as Tagged.com, it's probably the largest social website you've never heard of. According to Hitwise rankings on social networking sites for September, Tagged ranked number three in visits, below Facebook and MySpace and above Twitter.

Yes, the same Twitter that even your grandma knows about at this point.

On the bright side, not knowing about Tagged doesn't necessarily subtract you any internet points because it means you have a working email filter. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.