One of the world’s largest social networks, Tagged.com, has been accused of spamming by using the email address books of its members without permission to send misleading marketing messages.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo believes that Tagged.com had taken â€œthe address books and identities of millions of peopleâ€ who had thus been â€œforced into the embarrassing position of having to apologize to all their e-mail contacts.â€
Tagged’s CEO Greg Tseng responded by saying that the social network only uses the same practises employed by many other services: that of making it very clear that members can automatically invite friends via email but that it’s completely opt-in.
“Tagged users are given clear notice at every step of the registration process, if they choose to import and invite their contacts they must affirmatively enter their email password and are able to choose which contacts they do not wish to invite before any email invitations are sent from Tagged on their behalf.” he said, though he did concede that a new photo-sharing feature had been set up in such a way that it was too easy for some members to unintentionally allow the service to send emails on their behalf.
Whichever version of events is correct we won’t know for some time, but it does raise the point that it’s important to know exactly what kind of communications a service may be sending on your behalf. With the rise in automated tools, users need to be aware how their contact lists may be used.
I think most reputable social networks and associated tools aren’t malicious, though some are careless, with user data. Nevertheless, email addresses are still a powerful and much sought after piece of information so it’s not surprising that many services encourage their members to spread the word in this way.