In the past few weeks, I have received dozens of messages from many different people claiming that they "sent you photos on Tagged" or that they “sent you a private message on Tagged." Then these e-mail messages ask, "Want to see the photos?" or “Want to read the message?” I now receive four or five of these messages a day.
In most cases, I have never heard of these people, and I certainly couldn't care less about their pictures or their private messages. A quick search on Google produces the answers, however. It seems that Tagged is a questionable business that surreptitiously steals address books from people and sends e-mail messages to everyone in that address book. Someone apparently had my e-mail address in their address book when they visited Tagged.com, and my e-mail address was stolen and then used without the knowledge of the hapless victim.
A quick search on Google produces links to hundreds of e-mail messages complaining about Tagged.com. You can see those for yourself at http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&=&q=tagged.com+complaints&aq=0&oq=tagged.com+complaint.
Most of the messages state something similar to the following:
"I received an e-mail from a friend where it asked me to join Tagged.com. Since it was from my friend, I opened it up and it immediately attached itself to my Yahoo addresses and sent out e-mails to them asking them to join. When I contacted my buddy whom I got it from, he stated that it happened to him as well which is why I got it."
The Better Business Bureau reports "Based on BBB files, Tagged Inc. has a BBB Rating of F." That's the lowest rating the BBB gives. Details are available at http://www.bbb.org/greater-san-francisco/business-reviews/video-production-services/tagged-inc-in-san-francisco-ca-187485.
Wikipedia.org states, “Tagged has had numerous consumer complaints lodged against it for its practices, and is regarded as a phishing and spamming site by consumer anti-fraud advocates”
Searching Google is an interesting experience. I found that Tagged.com has raised 7 million dollars in venture capital, so this is definitely not some small-time operation from a third-world country.
The owner of Tagged.com should know better. Prior to Tagged, Greg Tseng was Co-Founder and CEO of Internet incubator Jumpstart Technologies. In March 2006, Jumpstart Technologies settled with the FTC on alleged violations of the CAN-SPAM Act, which included a $900,000 fine but no admission of guilt. The fine apparently hasn't changed his business practices.
I fired up my Linux system and visited Tagged.com. I used Linux because that operating system is impervious to most viruses and other malevolent software, although not necessarily impervious to everything. Still, I felt safer visiting a potentially malevolent site using Linux than with any other operating system. Even better, my Linux system doesn't have an address book.
I spent some time looking around the site. It looked a lot like Facebook or any of several dozen other social networking sites. However, a quick look at the site's Terms of Service was revealing:
E) Notice Regarding Commercial Email
MEMBERS CONSENT TO RECEIVE COMMERCIAL E-MAIL MESSAGES FROM TAGGED, AND ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT THEIR EMAIL ADDRESSES AND OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION MAY BE USED BY TAGGED FOR THE PURPOSE OF INITIATING COMMERCIAL E-MAIL MESSAGES.
Yes, the Terms of Service used upper case on that one paragraph. When new users add their information, they are asked if they agree with the Terms of Service. I wonder how many people ever read those words? When a new user joins the service, they are agreeing that “their email addresses AND OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION may be used by Tagged for the purpose of initiating commercial e-mail messages.” “Commercial e-mail messages” is a euphemism for spam.
The company describes itself this way: "Tagged.com is the premier social networking destination for the Millennial Generation and an ideal place for advertisers who are trying to reach the teen market. Tagged provides a fun, safe, and exciting environment for teens to showcase their personalities and talents, and to connect with friends and meet new ones. Tagged maintains this great environment by only allowing teenagers to register on the site."
That bit about teenagers is particularly bothersome. First, I am quite a bit beyond my teenage years, and yet I am receiving this junk. Next, if the service targets youngsters, it is trying to sell advertising to some of the least knowledgeable and least sophisticated audiences available.
Tagged may or may not be a social networking site, but it uses obnoxious advertising methods. Even worse, it steals your personal information and uses your information to send spam to your friends. Still worse, those messages have forged return addresses showing that the messages were from you! I cannot imagine any legitimate business ever using Tagged.com to attract new customers.
Should you ever receive any message that mentions Tagged, I suggest you immediately click on DELETE. Do not click on YES and do not click on NO. The only reasonable option is to click on DELETE.
Next, you might do what I did a few minutes ago: I set up a filter in my e-mail program that searches for message titles that contain the words "sent you photos on Tagged" or "sent you a private message on Tagged." If those words are found on any incoming message, that message is instantly moved to the Trash folder. I will never see those messages any more.
Sleazy businesses like this should be banned from the Internet.