New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo plans to sue social networking site Tagged.com for allegedly stealing the identities of its members, raiding their e-mail contact lists and sending out spam in a bid to lure recipients to the site. Tagged's CEO denies the accusations.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo threw a legal right hook
at social networking site Tagged.com
July 9, charging the site with spamming
and stealing the identities of 60 million of its users.
Cuomo served the site with a notice of intent, marking his
plan to sue Tagged.com for allegedly raiding users' contact lists and blasting
out e-mails in an attempt to boost traffic.
"This company stole the address books and identities of millions of
people," Cuomo said in a statement. "Consumers had their privacy
invaded and were forced into the embarrassing position of having to apologize
to all their e-mail 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
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Founded in 2004, Tagged.com has emerged as a popular social networking site,
with more than 80 million registered users. According to Cuomo, in attempt to
boost members, Tagged sent out invitational e-mails that appeared to have come
from their members' personal e-mail accounts instead of from Tagged. Many users
were unaware their e-mail lists were being raided, the attorney general
According to the statement, "Between April and June [of] this year,
Tagged sent tens of millions of misleading e-mails to unsuspecting recipients
stating that Tagged members had posted private photos online for their friends
to view. In reality, no such photos existed and the e-mail was not from
their friends." If a member had actually posted a photo to the site,
Tagged would include it in the e-mail as part of the lure, according to the statement.
In response to the allegations, Tagged
CEO Greg Tseng defended his company's actions
in a blog post and stated that Tagged never
accessed users' personal address books without their consent and no e-mails
were sent without permission.
"Identity 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," Tseng said in the blog post.
He explained that as the company "tested a new registration process, we
discovered that our 'invite your friends' language was confusing" to
"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," he said. "We immediately stopped using this registration
process, before being contacted by the attorney general's office."
However, according to Cuomo, by the time the company suspended its e-mail
marketing campaign in June it had already sent out more than 60 million
messages to consumers worldwide.
"We realize that some were confused and accidentally agreed to invite
their friends," Tseng said. "We are truly sorry for any inconvenience
or frustration that these people experienced."