New York’s attorney general – Andrew Cuomo intends to sue Tagged.com for deceptive email marketing practices and invasion of privacy, reported NY Times.
Cuomo said that Tagged.com illegally tried to trick visitors into providing their personal address books. This is then used to send out more invitations. Tagged made these emails appear as though a friend was inviting them to view personal photos.
“Tagged.com has stolen the address books and identities of millions of people. Consumers had their privacy invaded and were forced into the embarrassing position of having to apologize to all their email contacts for Tagged’s unethical — and illegal — behavior. This very virulent form of spam is the online equivalent of breaking into a home, stealing address books and sending phony mail to all of an individual’s personal contacts. We would never accept this behavior in the real world, and we cannot accept it online.”
Response to Attorney General Cuomo, CEO Greg Tseng – Tagged.com, issued an official statement in a blog post expressing disheartenment:
“Today’s announcement by New York Attorney General Cuomo is disheartening. Identify theft and invasion of privacy are very serious allegations and it is not accurate to portray Tagged, or any other social network, in this regard. As a social networking company, our membership is built on word of mouth. Friends invite their friends to join — this has been standard practice among all social networking sites for over five years. When our company tested a new registration process, we discovered that our “invite your friends” language was confusing. The registration drive generated some complaints and as a business that succeeds or fails based on word of mouth, we took every complaint very seriously. We immediately stopped using this registration process, before being contacted by the Attorney General’s office. In no instance did Tagged access a person’s personal address book without their consent and no emails were sent without the person giving us permission. We realize that some were confused and accidentally agreed to invite their friends. We are truly sorry for any inconvenience or frustration that these people experienced.”
He said that Tagged had already temporarily suspended its email marketing campaign in June. They had recently started testing a new registration process based on Tags photo-sharing feature and were fully switched to this new version in the first week of June. Although more than 3 million people joined Tagged with this new process, they received almost 2,000 complaints from people who invited all the contacts in their email address books but didn’t intend to. Some even complained that Tagged invitation confirmation language was confusing.
Tseng said that Tagged had stopped using the method before Cuomo contacted them.