The New York Attorney General’s office has announced that it plans to launch a lawsuit against Tagged.com as it alleges that the social networking site was using “deceptive email marketing practises and invasion of privacy” to lure new members.
The company used the contacts of its members to send emails to all the contacts claiming that the person had posted (the non-existent) photos online and you needed to sign up to view them. They would then collect the information from that person, and their contacts list, and repeat the process.
During the duration between April and June of this year, in which it was stop because of complaints and negative publicity from the press, it had sent out sixty million of the emails that were deemed by the New York Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, to be “misleading” around the world.
“This company stole the address books and identities of millions of people,” he said in a statement. “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 – behaviour.”
“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.”
The lawsuit is seeking to stop the company in engaging in these practises, and would seek fines from the company.
The company, however, has said that it was not accurate to portray the company with these allegations, and found it to be “disheartening”.
“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,” CEO Greg Tseng wrote in a statement.
“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.”
“We are truly sorry for any inconvenience or frustration that these people experienced.”