Tagged Snagged for Unlawful Practices

July 20th, 2009 |


Jeff Louis is a strategic media planner, brand project manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. He's intrigued by innovation overcoming adversity, survival of the fittest brand, history, reading, and similar fun stuff. He writes for sites and is the Public Relations and Advertising writer for the Chicago Examiner.

In May 2007, TechCrunch touted Social Media Network, Tagged, as possibly the fastest-growing Social Media site, and touted the fact that it had just become profitable.  Known as a “second-tier” network, along with Orkut, Hi5, Bebo, and Piczo, it was expected that Tagged would soon become a first tier player, ranking with the likes of Facebook and MySpace.

A lot can change in two years, and although Tagged boast 80 Million users, they’ve got their hands full of legal issues at the moment. Yesterday, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo charged Tagged with “spamming and stealing identities” from 60 million users.

Tagged’s scam used it’s users contacts to contact people that were not part of the network and sent them emails stating that there were pictures of them posted online, and to see them they would need to log in. Unfortunately, one of the people that received this message was a reporter for Time.

He logged in to see his pictures and within minutes was receiving calls from his wife and friends asking them about the site. Not to mention the fact that the pictures never existed. So, he wrote about it on Time.com.

Well, it seems that millions of others had received the same message; enough that the New York Attorney General is going to sue, according to The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) web site:

“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.”

The  lawsuit seeks to stop the site from engaging in their questionable practices and will also levy fines against Tagged. If the fines were a single dollar per email, the site would be liable for $60 Million in fines. Although Tagged has suspended their email “campaign,” there is no doubt that the future of Tagged is in question.

Tagged. Not It Anymore…

In a final note, it seems that Tagged is not singularly being scrutinized; Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has stated that Facebook is storing personal information from closed, deleted, or abandoned accounts. This is a in violation of  Canadian privacy laws. Although the charge is not specifically addressed toward Facebook, they are the center of the investigation.

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Jeff Louis