NY Attorney General Unfriends Tagged.com, Files Lawsuit

New York’s crusading Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has a new target: social networking contact-spamming site Tagged.com. He intends to stop the company’s practices and seek fines from them. Were the fine $1 per spammy e-mail they’ve sent, the total would be $60 million. Too much?

“This company stole the address books and identities of millions of people,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “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.”

Tagged made their invitational emails appear to have been sent directly from members’ personal email accounts, instead of from Tagged.com. The emails falsely stated that “[name] sent you photos on Tagged.” If a member had added a personal image to the website, Tagged also included that picture in these fraudulent email solicitations. Many consumers were unaware that Tagged accessed their email contact lists.

The Attorney General’s lawsuit would seek to stop Tagged from engaging in these fraudulent practices and would seek fines from the company. Tagged temporarily suspended its email marketing campaign in June, in response to user complaints and criticism, but had already sent over 60 million of the deceptive emails to consumers worldwide.

It’s nice to see government taking action against unethical social media Web site actions. There’s social networking, and then there’s outright deception.

PREVIOUSLY:
Tagged.com Will Spam Your Friends And Family

ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO ANNOUNCES LEGAL ACTION AGAINST SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE THAT RAIDED EMAIL ADDRESS BOOKS, STOLE IDENTITIES, AND SPAMMED MILLIONS OF AMERICANS [Press Release]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. dohtem says:

    Whenever I read a Cuomo article, I visualize him as Kevin Costner’s Eliot Ness.

  2. Megalomania says:

    This guy is an internet hating machine.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      @Megalomania: Well, better than his predecessor, who used the Internet to find hookers.

      • dohtem says:

        @Laura Northrup: You say that like its a horrible thing. ;)

      • oldgraygeek says:

        @Laura Northrup: um, before (or perhaps while) Spitzer was surfing for expensive hourly companionship, he also took down Direct Revenue, one of the worst “legitimate” malware companies the Internet ever saw. Their malware was almost impossible to remove because it installed a fake print driver that kept repairing whatever parts of their crap you managed to kill. Eliot Spitzer sued them, forcing them to change their practices and eventually shut down.

        I wish Eliot had kept it in his pants, because he was a damn fine Attorney General. Cuomo is keeping the NYAG’s office tradition of going after obvious lawbreakers alive. This is a good thing.

        • Trai_Dep says:

          @oldgraygeek: He also busted the balls of Wall Street insiders who were ripping off average investors. He was against Wall Street crooks before it was cool.
          Given the choice, I’d rather have a philandering lawmaker that busts multi-million dollar crimes that one that – let’s be frank – doesn’t get caught who gleefully accepts contributions from them.
          Bet if he didn’t cross the Wall Street crooks, a deal would have been struck to make his “dating” disappear down a black hole…

      • wvFrugan says:

        @Laura Northrup:
        Cuomo deserves lots of free unsolicited blow jobs IMO.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @Laura Northrup: But Laura, you say that as though that’s a bad thing…

    • MostlyHarmless says:

      @Megalomania: Technically more like a d-bag suing machine.

      Seriously, how awesome is he.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @Megalomania: Well it definitely sounds like he is running for governor in the next election.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      @Megalomania:

      Seems like he is more of an “Honest” proponent. Even if the reasons are nefarious, they still help us.

  3. Bryan_E says:

    At least there is one politician out there who has the guts to stand up against these types of companies!

  4. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    $60 million? “Too Much?”

    No, NOT ENOUGH.

  5. Tamar Weinberg says:

    I am absolutely dumbfounded that Tagged let this deceptive email practice go on for as long as it did. In June alone, I received about 30 emails from several friends and family members who unknowingly provided Tagged with their email addresses. My mother fell prey to the tactic too, and she’s not so Internet savvy at all. She had clients’ email addresses on her recipient list, and each received no less than 4 emails from her. After much criticism by me, she apologized to everyone and didn’t BCC any of the recipients. In the end, Tagged just crated a huge mess for her and for a bunch of others.

    Like Yoko says, NOT ENOUGH at all.

  6. Julia789 says:

    For those who are not familiar with the internet (parents especially!) Tagged creates nightmares when they click on an email that says (person they know) sent them a photo. Almost instantly, after trying to view this supposed photo, their entire address book is swiped and emails are sent out to not just everyone in their address book but everyone they’ve EMAILED (businesses, clients, etc.) saying THEY sent photos or invitations to others.

    I volunteer at an animal shelter, and lots of sweet old ladies volunteer there as well. We all email each other about fundraisers, etc. At least once a week I get a “Tagged” email from one of them, because they can BARELY use their email and click on anything anyone sends to them!

    For what it’s worth, the little old ladies also forward lots of pictures of kittens and sunsets, and every urban legend you can think of (deodorant causes breast cancer! carjackers leave notes on your back window to trick you! asparagus cures Leukemia! you will get $2,000 from Bill Gates if you forward this email to 10 people!) I don’t even open their emails any more unless I can clearly see in the subject line it’s related to an animal shelter fundraiser!

    I think the more often someone forwards chain emails, the more likely they are to fall for stuff like “Tagged.” I’m in the wrong business. These ladies will click on ANYTHING. They probably answer those “Bank of America needs you to update your account and password” emails too!

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Julia789: I made my aunt change her home page to Snopes.com as her Christmas present to me. It did miraculous things to the quality of her emails from then on.

      • dragoncat42 says:

        @Trai_Dep: You are *made* of win for this!

      • theblackdog says:

        @Trai_Dep: That rocks, there’s a few people I should do that to.

      • Julia789 says:

        @Trai_Dep: That is such a great idea, making it her home page!

        I gave up emailing back to these sweet old ladies “sorry to tell you, but deoderant does not cause breast cancer/terrorists are not mailing ebola virus on a sponge to your front door/dead babies are not being cooked into sweet muffins in Korea.”

        They are so dumb. They think the person who FORWARDED it to them determines the validity! “Well I don’t care what you say, my friend who works at City Hall forwarded that email to me, so I know it’s true!”

      • Paul Carr says:

        @Trai_Dep: Best idea ever! I really need to set up all of my families computers like this.

  7. KMan13 still wants a Pontiac G8 says:

    I <3 when Cuomo does stuff like this.

  8. NotYou007 says:

    I signed up with Tagged.com just to see who a friend of mine was typing and view his profile. He had a lot of friends and telling me about all these women and the only way I could view his profile was to make an account.

    I used a lot of false information and an e-mail account I don’t care about. At one point in time after the 10 plus times it asked me for my cell phone number it asked me for my username to the Gmail account I was using as well as my Gmail account password.

    Now being someone who is very computer savvy my brain said something is not right. It did clearly state that they wanted to access my e-mail account but it also stated that the password would not be stored.

    Again, a huge red flag. I will not give any sort of third party my password to any of my e-mail accounts. I choose to skip this offer as well.

    If any site ever asks for your e-mail address and password to that e-mail account DO NOT enter your password.

    I don’t use my Tagged.com account for anything other than to view his account and I just canceled the account. They asked for a reason.

    I told them to suck my ass.

    • NoPornstar says:

      @NotYou007: “If any site ever asks for your e-mail address and password to that e-mail account DO NOT enter your password.”

      Twitter asks for it. It’s optional, but they do ask, so that they can check your contacts and see who you know that is already on Twitter. Then it gives you the option of following those people.

      I vaguely recall other social networking sites asking for it, as well. So, Tagged doing the same probably didn’t raise red flags for its users. At first.

  9. Laura Northrup says:

    @oldgraygeek: Spitzer did a lot of wonderful things as AG, but only one that I can mention for pure comedic effect.

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    Whoa. The New York Office of Attorney General needs to lay off the Caps Lock key. Seriously.

  11. Nighthawke says:

    @undefined: @Megalomania: NY AG’s are always a little on the vindictive side. Keep in mind when the AG gets involved all hell usually breaks loose.

  12. dosdelon says:

    Way to go, Cuomo!

  13. Laura Northrup says:

    @Trai_Dep: Dude, I live in Albany. Of course it’s not a bad thing.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Cuomo makes some pretty stark accusations that, though shocking as they sound, aren’t legitimate. The media and the Government as a whole have become a fraud in and of themselves. Look at what the US media market has become: a place to scare American citizens and sensationalize things far beyond the truth. It used to be that the National Enquirer was the only sketchy portal of news—but it seems other media sources have caught on to the tactic just to get a story out…a story that even the very people who run this country buy into. What happened to actual FACTS being given to the American readers? Please spare me the dramatics of it all…Tagged.com doesn’t scam people. They sign up at their own free will. In a country where we say our educational systems are messed up, in a country where we encourage all people to be able to read and write—-sure seems like a waste of an education if people don’t even bother to READ what it is they are about to sign up for. Gimme a break.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I hate to say it, but Tagged is not the only website that does this! It extends to FaceBook, Fubar, Yearbook, MySpace, and so many others. It is a ploy to provide all your IM account information for services including AOL, Yahoo, GMail, MSN, and others so that you get a FREE email marketing list. I know this becasue I have employed this practice myself.. but it is clearly stated that you are providing this information to invite your friends to join the website. In fact, many sites also pay a bonus in FREE Credits, or additional perks for each person who joins from your list.

    THe biggest issue is that the practice was not disclosed properly, and the messages should only have been sent ONCE. But this is a deceptive marketing tool.

    AND…. BEWARE…. never give your cell number to ANYONE…. since the practive of sending ads to your text service, or even worse, the practice of sending MMS pic services embedded with viruses to cell phones which not only hijaack your phone book, but in many cases also wipe out your phone and render it unusable.