Here’s a clever idea to get subscribers to your web site: send someone a email purporting that his friends had tagged him in photos, as is done at Facebook and elsewhere, and encourage him to hit a link to see the pics; when he gets to your site, tell him to sign up to see the pictures. Then require that he provide his email address and make “inviting” his friends to the site the default choice, authorizing access to his address book. You not only get the sucker, you get his email contacts too! What could go wrong?
That’s what attorney general Andrew Cuomo (pictured) says Tagged.com did, and he says he’s going to sue. He expects to reap a fine and to get Tagged to change its ways. “We would never accept this behavior in the real world,” says the AG, “and we cannot accept it online.”
Tagged CEO Greg Tseng says it’s all a misunderstanding of an innocent mistake. “When our company tested a new registration process, we discovered that our ‘invite your friends’ language was confusing,” he responds to the charge. “We immediately stopped using this registration process, before being contacted by the Attorney General’s office.” He cites a June 15th message to the Tagged community announcing this change in its process.
This sort of thing happens a lot with social networking sites, and Cuomo is apparently looking to make an example of Tagged to discourage the others. We’ll see if he picked the right exemplar.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 10, 2009