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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 komentara

  1. Yea, you should change your gmail account password. I had a couple of invitations from that site, and first time i got to that site and when i saw that they are asking my gmail account password i closed that window…now i know what would happen if i didn’t :)

  2. I wished I had read this yesterday! Since I didnt , I have now become a victim…how do you fix this? and how or what is a gmail account password? Please help, it would greatly be appericiated.

  3. god almighty, this web site is cruel. i’ve been apologizing to friends for days now. you log in to the site and it spams everyone you know. a few days later it does it again. this keeps repeating and theres no way tto stop it. i hate tagged.com.

  4. Thanks! I’ve recently gotten a few such requests, probably about the same time as you did (maybe from the same friend?), but held off from responding. Just now I ran a Google search on “tagged.com” and found your post. Makes perfect sense, and glad I didn’t participate!

    I should have been suspicious when I also got an invite from the same person but to another email address I rarely use.

    Thanks again.

  5. I just got my first of these from a friend who never really uses a computer so didn’t know it was a spam scam – I hesitated when it asked for my old email address – if any and then gave an explanation that sounded incredibly altruistic – I predict many people will have to change not just their passwords but their email accounts cause of these people – are they still considered people? thanks for posting your experience. hopefully people will see this before they get guilted into to hitting the yes they’re my friend button.

  6. What I cannot understand is that Tagged markets itself as a premier teen social networking site stating that “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.”

    If that is the case then why am I receiving an invite from a 51 year old Harsh from India?

    I’m also receiving invites from people who I wrote to once in a lifetime that have me in their address book. If you click on the “No” button you are still taken to a sign up page that requests your birthday, zip code, email address etc

    I was able to search the database and their are more than teens on this site.

  7. Just got one of these too.

    During signup, it asked me for my hotmail password so it could spam my address book. Which I obviously didn’t want it to so I closed the window.

    Well, seems like spam-your-friends isn’t required for signup because a few minutes later I got a welcome to tagged email. And my is the place full of ads, everything from ‘you have already won!’ to ‘dating service with lotsa hawt chicks who just happen to live close to you’ to ‘fun IE toolbars’ to…. you get the idea. This ‘social web service’ seems like nothing more than a distribution vector for adware and spamware.

  8. I can live with receiving an invitation email. The big question ist: What comes next? My fiancee accidentally signed up and tagged.com now knows a certain emailaddress of mine that pretty much no-one else knew. I pray to all gods known by man that this invitation-mail is all that there is to it.

  9. The site is down. Maybe their capacities were too weak for this amount of people.

  10. You might want to change your Gmail account password :) :) :)

    Good advice…

    Spammers were always first in finding new ways for recruiting new people. So this is probably short but painful idea from tagged guys. Also if you can see you have one spam message in these comments. It is formed as usually ping back but it leads to online shop or something similar.

    Actually it is comment from Online Electronics Store

  11. So I was scammed by them and now eeveryone in my gmail addressbook is still getting emails.

    My question is that once I have changed my password, will the stie still be able to send emails to everyone from my account??

    Has anyone changed their password and still had their friends receiving emails?

  12. When I started teaching users about networking back in 90-91, the first lesson was always that anyone asking for your password is a THIEF. No matter where he works, no matter what kind of credentials he shows, the man or woman asking for your password is always a THIEF because a real operator will never need to ask for it.
    I think this rule of thumb has missed about three times for me since then, and I’ve been in the networking business the whole time.
    I am mildly amazed that the “give me your password” approach still works, but I guess crooks are still selling the Eiffel tower to bypassers every now and then as well.

  13. This happened to me today too, and after reading the comments, I cancelled/closed my tagged account, in hopes that allll my gmail contacts will NOT receive any future emails.

    Does anyone know if closing my account will prevent future spams to be sent out (at least associated with MY name)? It should, hopefully, right??

  14. I signed up for the site out of curiosity and yes it spammed my whole gmail address book. I immediately deleted my account when I found out. But still it’s turned out to be a curse. I’ve been writing letters to iquiry@tagged.com and support@tagged.com every day since, trying to get some kind of response.

    I would think changing your password wont help the spam because they should already have your contact list. But it wouldn’t hurt to change it anyway.

    They’re assholes. May their Sun be blown out like a candle.

  15. I would like to know more about tagged! Is it like yahoo or google? And how can i easily invite friends or access it?

  16. Closing your Tagged account WILL NOT stop the emails from your account. I closed mine several days ago and yesterday everyone received another email from my account. I tried changing my email password, does anyone know if this will solve the problem?

  17. after three days of sending emails I finally got this:

    Hello,

    Thank you for contacting Tagged.

    We have removed your invitations and apologize for the inconvenience we
    have caused.

    Sincerely,

    Alex
    Customer Support

  18. Interesting analysis about the web traffic that tagged.com is driving.

    BTW, I did find out a way to bypass the step that asks for one’s email password. When you’re at the screen asking for your gmail password, open tagged.com in a new browser window/tab. It’d take you straight to your home page withing tagged.com. Then you get rid of the earlier screen asking for your email password.

    I didn’t have the patience to figure out if the site gave me any restricted functionality because of this.

    In any case, I view the site as a password thief. I don’t trust it at all.

  19. I thought that changing the email password may help, because the way they send emails to your contact it through your account. If they can’t log into your account then I would think you’d be ok. Can anyone confirm that changing your email address will stop the emails? I’m so tired of sending apologies to professors, bosses, friends…

  20. Incorrect, they only log in to your account to grab your address book, and do all the mailing themselves (gmail has some pretty sophisticated protection for this type of stuff — try downloading more than 100 megabytes in one run from gmail and you will run into it). Changing your password will prevent them from reading your address book again for new contacts, and will protect your online shopping receipts and personal life when tagged.com is silently infiltrated by hackers :)

  21. John is right. Once you entered your password they got all your emails and there’s no turning back.

  22. Hmm, I went through this flow but actually thought it was useful to gathering lots of friends real quick and seeing which friends are already on Tagged. I’ve been using the site for almost a year now, think it’s as good as MySpace and the others and haven’t had anything nefarious happen with my Gmail account. This company is backed by Mayfield, a top Silicon Valley VC, maybe they’re really just the 126th social networking site? It doesn’t feel like spam to me…

  23. Uh, lot of research you did if this is the first time you’ve seen this. All of the big sites did similar, see Hi5 for example.

  24. wait so you’re telling me they can send emails which look like they are from my email address? like when my friends reply to the tagged email, it comes directly to my account, i assumed they had to be logging in to my account each time to send those emails

    So theres no way to stop them from spamming my contacts over and over with the same “Jon has tagged you” email?

    I’ve tried emailing them, but still getting no response

  25. Hi,
    I just read your comments about Tagged.com. I think that is the sleasiest way of getting new members. Same thing happen to me, got an email from a friend via Tagged saying” is she your friend? if you don’t click YES she might think you are not her friend anymore…..well what do you do? So I clicked the YES button. All of a sudden I had to give my email and password and 1,2,3 there were all of my contacts, and also people I did not want to send an email to (like x boyfriend)and also business related contacts. I felt my heart jump and my cheeks blush as I then thought that I had now sent an email to all of these persons inviting them to tagged. What I did at that stage was just to click the X button and close the whole window. But I still was not sure if my mail had gone out to let’s say a 100 persons. I sent a few emails to a few friends asking them if they got it but no, they did not. But before I got that confirmed that my mail did not go out I felt so embarassed. So if it happen to you, just leave the page ASAP and don’t go any further.

  26. I got the email from a friend where i live whom got it from a friend and unless you close that email account or leave it and the contacts and open another …but ah they’ve still got all the original addresses…I had tagged invites sent to government departments and i got a very rude reply and I spent days writing personal apologies but now I know they have all the addresses ive opened another account and tried to omg say sorry so many times….on the other hand tagged is ok as linking up with pple and im studying mental health non clinical and AOD and its on my profile and its a way of researching also as im finding pple are messaging me who have mental illnesses and ive got some young pple who have got to know me and the idea for me now is…tagged may have thought they were being smart and making money quickly but im actually uising Tagged.com to my advantage in communication with different kinds of pple ….I was really pissed off when I 1st accepted like the softie I am it saying like if u say no to edith:( and it was a really good and smartass catch but all i am doing now is using it to my advantage and i do not link any other emails with professional and deaprtmental addresses.omg when I realised the premier of nsw got an invite lol…..but I guess pple make money in any way they can….we learn by our mistakes but i do know that it has disrupted my computer and I cannot hit on certain links as my system has frozen a lot since i acceted the invite.There are a lot of nice pple on tagged.com too though so there is good and bad.If its supposed to be a teen site how come they advertise for lava life and that kind which ive found carry a lot of bad virus,s search and destroy is up to date im sure with it so if you down load spybot search and destroy it will pick up most of the viruses.Id love to know more aboutPHOTOBUCKET??Is there any info on this site?if so could someone lease update me?

  27. as someone who uses Tagged daily, I have to say that since being a member I have made many friends from all over the world.

    Now when you join up you do not have to enter your gamil, hotmail, yahoo etc password, it is only if you want an easy way to invite your friends.

    I didn’t give any of my details when I joined, I made new friends on there and any friends from my address book that I thought might be interested I emailed myself with a link to the site

    Many, many websites harvest email addresses in this way. Tagged is a very good site, it is totally free unlike many of these dating sites that cost a fortune

  28. i cancelled/closed my tag account AND changed my gmail password on the first day i signed up for the stupid thing (about 5 days ago), and today, EVERYONE in my gmail contacts got ANOTHER email again!!

    i even emailed sitesquad@tagged.com but never got a response.

    jefferson – (or anyone else who has received a response from tagged) – to what email address did you email them?

    I HATE TAGGED!

  29. I cancelled my tag account the same day I signed in. Until today I got only two messages and it seems that none of my other contacts has received a mail.
    I’m hoping there will be no changes to this situation.

  30. tagged has its dirty tactics but…..as it says TAGGED YOUR F*****well all of your addresses have recieved an invite as soon as you click yes.Open another account and don’t allow spam or anything other than those you know…spybot search and destroy has been great and its free as since being on tagged ive recieved alot of virus’s and this puter is now stuffed luckily its only a rental and quite old but I cannot click onto links for my study etc since ive been with tagged.Try using tagged.coms ip server to make complaints and get what you want done its arin@above.net …..or abuse@above.net……ucan only try I hope it helps

  31. PREVENTION IS THE BEST CURE!!

    Just as a suggestion, send your friends something like this:

    Re: Jane has Tagged you! :) WARNING DO NOT PROCEED WITH THIS!!

    Jane darling heart,

    I know that it appears to be all pretty innocent stuff – but I need to remind you (once and for all) . . .

    PLEASE DO NOT TO LIST ANY OF YOUR FRIENDS’ EMAILS IN ANYTHING LIKE THIS – NOR, ONFORWARD THIS KIND OF STUFF TO PEOPLE THAT YOU KNOW.

    It is NOT email etiquette and you will start losing friends faster than you will be able to make them!

    Wonder where most of our email junk originates from?? Schemes like this are purely and intentionally designed to accumulate email details specifically for mass data-bases, which are in turn onsold to all sorts of enterprises that will then send you and everybody who signs up – SPAM, SPAM AND MORE SPAM!!!

    FYI see: http://www.istokpavlovic.com/blog/?p=5

    Kisses,
    GPP
    PS I am sending this message to everyone that I know – to alert them of this fact, as a matter of courtesy to them.

  32. I received a similar message tonight from an “Andrew Hill, 13”. I didn’t bother clicking on it and deleted it asap. A Google search for “Tagged.com” led me to this blog.

    Thanks for the info, I’ll be sure to make certain none of my friends fall for this.

  33. Well i know you people might not like how tagged and myspace goes. But the thing is myspace can be blocked but don’t blocked tagged site. If you people don’t like, then why mind. The only thing tagged has given you is a yes or no, so if you are not his or her friend then don’t click yes or even no just delete it from your email box. But i really need to get in tagged.com.

  34. I get the feeling that most people reading this will be reading it too late!
    I am fortunate in the sense that if anyone or anything asks for my
    password, I will never divulge it. Hopefully, most people on here have
    now learnt that (somewhat harsh) lesson. If this happened to me, I would
    be furious, since I have so many contacts, many of whom are professionals
    and would not want to receive such spam emails. I cannot believe that
    this company can be allowed to continue doing what it does – it is effectively
    taking your entire address book through untoward means and then using it
    against your will, time and time again. You should all gang up on them and
    take them to the cleaners! Good luck, Dee

  35. did the same as FunJoel.
    googled to see whatever this was about, when i recieved that email from a friend (who doesn’t usaully sends me mail ).
    and so i found this – so thanks..

  36. From their privacy policy:

    “Tagged may share the email address and/or other personally identifiable information of any registered user with third parties for marketing purposes. You may opt-out from receiving marketing messages from our partners at any time by using the following link: http://g.trackbot.com/dne?l=705f227&e. In addition, Tagged may share a registered user’s email address with third parties to target advertising and to improve user experience on Tagged’s pages in general.”

    I recieved 3 spam messages within hours of signing up on Tagged.com…

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