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Spamming 2.0 – Tagged.com

This morning I got an email from a friend of mine. It was an invitation for a social network called Tagged.com. A straightforward designed email with a witty question: “Is she your friend?” The button “Yes” just craved for click. So I clickety clicked on it. Curiosity killed the cat.

Upon selecting “Yes” option a web page opened with a short form containing very friendly copy in inline help. I filled out the form as this looked like something different and I always like to research new stuff. As I was about to join the 126th social network on planet Earth, I got the screen that offered me an option of finding all of my friends that were already on the network. All I had to do is enter my username and password from Gmail or some other (Yahoo, Hotmail…) account and it would do it all automatically for me. Very useful, I thought. So I entered my Gmail user and pass:

Well the next screen was a big surprise. It listed all the emails from my Gmail account, even from people I wrote to once in a lifetime. Each of them had a checkbox checked by default. The big, red button that was saying “Next” was just a click away.

In the moment I realised that clicking on that button will cause all of them to receive tagged.com invitation emails with my name as a sender. What a witty way to harvest millions of users worldwide, don’t you think?

I unchecked all of the emails and went into the network. Classic mySpace layout. No big deal. But then I started to think about that emails screen. Ok, I am from the web business and I knew it was a setup. But how many people all over the planet just clicked the Next button? Suddenly I saw the Matrix. This is the fastest way to involve “innocent” people into social networking business, people that haven’t yet heard of mySpace or Facebook!

Later during the day I heard a lot of my friends were receiving emails from tagged.com these days, and I did a bit of investigation.

It turned out that the company tagged.com has raised 7 million dollars in venture capital, so this is definitely not another Joe-from-the-hood-viagra-pimp-adsense-spamming-mission but something much bigger. Then I searched for people’s opinions on blogs and realised that these emails started circulating in October 2006. It seems that this Gmail account searching option was introduced in tagged.com system at that time.

The next logical step was to visit Alexa.com and see their traffic graph:

This enormous viral spreading has started at the same time they introduced this subtle spamming method. “The tipping point” is clearly visible, so my question is where does this lead? Here is the comparing graph of mySpace.com and tagged.com:

This quiet spamming trick got them approx. 1/6 of mySpace traffic in very short time. The service has been active for a few years but it was not massive until a few months ago.

I think much of these 7 million raised in ventures are spent on lawyers, to ensure all privacy policies are bullet-proof and to blame the users and their ignorance for this spamming “side effect”.

I imagine what will happen very soon. Hardcore spammers from all the basements and underworlds will create sites that will ask users for Gmail password and soon our Inboxes will be overflowed with invitations for “Chicken soup lovers network no. 386”. Maybe Google and others will have to modify their systems in order to prevent this.

It seems that these service integration trends on the Internet are a true heaven for creative spammers. Are we looking at the beginning of the Web 2 bubble boom? I hope not yet.

92 Responses

  1. I don’t see the problem here, I’ve seen so many sites where they ask you to log into your email to see if your friends already have registered. (eg. Facebook, Hyves) There is no reason this would be any different. I have had no problem what so ever this is just another person with too much time on their hands trying to make a useless case. So what if the site attracted an incredible amount of people, it’s just a smart way to do business… Please use your time to tackle some more relevant issues society faces!

  2. I freakin’ HATE tagged, it has sent out that f****ing invitation to everybody in my contact list, even job related contacts. How could I be so stupid typing in my password. May all their servers blow sky high. I just can’t believe how sleazy this site is, and not to mention all the spyware they have on their site…

  3. Thank you so much. I almost got caught into this bloody nonsense. But it looked like something familiar: a french company, which name I don’t remember: had done a similar thing a couple of years ago. I decided to check and see if there was anything like your site about it before signing in Et Voila! Thanks again.

  4. Don’t ever enter your primary login password into a different site – that has to be rule number 1 in this new reality. I was invited by a friend to join tagged and proceeded to sign up – but when it asked for my yahoo password, I basically just closed the window knowing something was fishy – and knowing that I have already succeeded in registering. (they won’t throw away your valuable registration just because you don’t enter the password for your email). Worked for me – I hope the web newbies don’t get tricked into entering their passwords.. I would imagine my mom doing so willingly and unknowingly…

  5. Thanks for this info. I am furious that my entire address book has been made vulnerable to this kind of thing and I hope there is some legal way to stop/control this misuse of information. I have spammed this site and asked everyone in my address book to spam them and not to respond, just delete and spam the message. If there is some kind of class action suit that is applicable, sign my up. Thank you.

  6. Ya I was going to join that site after receiving 4827492489394 e-mails from people, but was like fxck no when it asked me for my hotmail password. I really don’t understand why someone would give out their e-mail account password to some website.

  7. I just got the invite mail. Didn’t register (duh!) but foudn this blog when trying to suss them out.

    From the TOC:

    “E) Notice Regarding Commercial Email


  8. Good I’m pissed of now!! I’d gotten like ten invitations from different people, so I thought “Well, I should give it a try”. Turns out it was a bad idea apparently

  9. You people sure are stupid. Why don’t you go ahead and leave your usernames and passwords here. I’ll take care of them.

    The point is, how many of you mindless dumbasses gave you username and password to a website you knew nothing about (or possibly never heard of)? You’re pretty dumb. Admit it.

    I feel bad for the innocent people like me. I was invited by a dumbass friend. Of course I didn’t join that crap, but I just got my first piece of spam today at my work email that has never once had spam before(3 years). Thanks Vicky! I’m sure more is coming. I can’t wait. At least you people have cheered me up.

  10. The realy horrible part is that people tend to use the same password and username on alot of websites. Think about all the people who dosen´t know what damage that can do to them…

  11. “Debbie” working at a nice new office Googled one day and found a blog that was talking about the website she was working at…

  12. I just received this email from someone I don’t know. The name the doesn’t ring any bells but there must be some email connection between us since it eventually found its way to my inbox. Thankfully, the internet being the many splendored thing it is, your blog came up and I was able to avoid spamming all my contacts. THANK YOU for posting this and a big hi-5 to the internet creation gods…and the google guys for that matter too!

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  14. for some time now i have tried so many times to get contacted to tagged but the more i try the more it keeps repeating”service unavailable”Canyou tell me what is goin on.

  15. I love Tagged.com
    It beats all the dating sites in quality and its free too

    I made it a rule to Never ever put my hotmail pass in another site
    So i just dont use that mass email sending option
    As long as you dont do these things Tagged.com is great

    Just remember to never put your hotmail or myspace password in at onother site
    Mass friend adding tools same deal
    NEVER use that as they ask you to put your pass in
    And if you do that you just give your login away
    Most of these tools are key loggers to steel your password

    So never ever put your pass word from one page in at another page
    Thats just dumb to do as you say here you go abuse me
    Tagged.com is superb u just need to use your brain
    And not give your password away
    You can invite those you want to invite yourself
    Clicking on it is just greedyness on your own side
    And greedyness gets ubused as you abuse them
    Them mass sending emails takes an effort
    Alway think why would they do the effort for free
    Nothing is free so they must have a reason to do it

  16. I do I agree with all this comments… but sometimes we do it for fun nothing else.
    The main part what we need? It’s all our needs to work like blind men & others may take us or lead us like what they want.
    But now in my country this site is blocked! Now…

  17. Merci beaucoup pour cet article! ça va me heureusement empêcher d’ouvrir l’é-mail que j’ai reçu par “on Tagged.com”, il y a une semaine. Salutation, ripa63

  18. Tagged gives social networking a bad reputation!

    Our Real Estate agent in an effort to learn about social networking joined this Tagged site. He is not that knowledgeable on the Internet. So, without his understanding about what he was doing this Tagged company went into his computer and took his entire email list and spammed all of his friends, family and business acquaintances. My wife’s email was on that list and in her effort to be polite and help our nice agent she signed in. What happened next it appalling, I got an email from that my wife was sending me some private photos! And, what is even worse, her entire email list was spammed with the same message! She, being a professional in the community was embarrassed, I and because I have websites and work on the Internet too am embarrassed by this terrible business practice. I received a 2nd email this morning. I hope that someone can and will do something to this company AND the people responsible for these actions ASAP.

  19. Everyone is trying to impress everyone else by their answers. If we were all that smart we wouldn’t be in this fix. Stop the tech-talk. Just tell us in easy steops how to get the hell out of this trap!!!!!!!

  20. I just (yesterday) got one of these emails, so the spammers are still in business with the same website. I wonder why nobody has tried putting them out of business?

  21. I can’t believe I was so stupid. I will now have to change my email address and passwords. My friend had it even worse when she tried to access pictures from me which of course I hadn’t sent. She has already heard from 50 of her contacts who were smarter than we were.

  22. I don’t think it would be possible to counter this unless the people who use emails (yahoo, gmail etc) would know that these kind of websites are phishing websites intended to harvest traffic (and money)

    Some people just carelessly sign up because it is a social network -_-

  23. i signed up to tagged.com caus emy grandmother told me about it but never bothered with it then a year later i get a eamil saying the real miley cyrus wants to be friends so i accepted and went on to to tagged thinking it was like facebook and myspace but now im getting all these emails saying guys r interested in me and this one guy wrote me saying he thinks im cute and ask me personal things like do i have a boyfriend and i dint tell him and he is 35 way to old for me and its against the law i would stop using the site but i only go on for sorority life people do not use tagged.com it is a big scam it is a web site for guys who want u no matter how old you are

  24. I have had no problem with TAGGED. I did not give anybody my passwords and I set up an e-mail account only for these kind of sites. People need to read carefully before they accept anything. This is stupidity on there part!!!!!!!

  25. Off topic maybe, just maybe…
    My tagged profile got hacked on december 21st 2009, and i have had this profile for over 2 years now .. anyway i am not so concerned about them hacking my account for zynga poker chips (i had 1.5billion when i lost the profile), but i am more concerned about my profile being used still, i check my profile link almost every day and the hacker logs in and actually is posting new pictures… for all those that love tagged.com.. try to see if they love you back and get me an email or a contact number so that i can have them delete my profile if they dont care in giving it back to me. i am a webdeveloper and i am very carefull with hackers and their tricks,, but to my surprise i didnt think that i would get hacked by just opening my inbox and clicking open an email to read.. well, with that said the hacker redirected me to the home page after changing my username and password. i emailed every single email address i found on tagged and havent heard from them or got back a msg that the email is invalid..(support@tagged.com, sitesquad@tagged.com are useless among others that i tried) .. gl to all those that love tagged.com ,, i used to love them too up untill i realized that they dont love me back :).. please send me an email if you find out how to reach them .. clubdome2000@yahoo.com..

  26. I am really sorry guys and girls, but i simply have to ask this:

    why the hell would you give your Gmail username and password to any goddamn website beside Google/Gmail in the first place?

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