Social network site Tagged was caught duping users into revealing the email addresses of their friends. Most people who used the social networking site signed up, then added the addresses of their friends as a way to keep in touch with them. The company found a way to get extensive email listings from users, by pretending to send emails to the friends of those users. The users were not aware that their listings were being used in this way, and Tagged was found out to have acted unprofessionally by abusing the users trust on this issue.
After having been found out, Tagged had to defend itself in court on its actions utilizing these listings without the permission of the users. Tagged later made concessions to two California residents, Sara Golden and Miriam Slater, who brought an action in court against Tagged. Golden and Slater sought to bring to a settlement the lawsuit regarding its prior registration process, which was heard in federal district court in San Francisco.
The company duped consumers, in a scheme that “was really consumer fraud, perpetrated by Tagged,” said prosecutors. In fact, “Tagged orchestrated its registration process to trick consumers into divulging the entire contents of their email address books. In the second stage, Tagged used those email address books to send deceptive invitations that appeared to be from acquaintances offering to share personal photographs."
Slater alleged in court that she joined Tagged when she was prompted by an email that seemed to be from an acquaintance who wished to share photos with her. When she visited the site, she was requested to share information to view the pictures. She had not intended to join the site or to offer a similar invitation to her friends.
Later, Golden alleged that she received an invitation that she believed came from Slater, but it was not from her, it had actually been issued from Tagged. Both Golden and Slater argued that Tagged went against computer fraud and anti-hacking laws and statutes in their procedures to send invitations to users.
As a concession, Tagged agreed to destroy address book information it acquired from users joining the site between the months of April and June, if the users did not send invitations to their friends to join the site. Tagged did not admit to any wrongdoing in settling this lawsuit.
Tagged has agreed to pay damages to Golden and Slater $10,000 each, per a copy of the settlement filed with U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen.
Since the lawsuit, Tagged has revamped its registration process after numerous complaints regarding the policies. Consumer court papers show that Tagged may have sent upwards of 60 million allegedly deceptive invitations and so-called follow-up reminders between the months of April and June.
This on the heels of the settlement last year where Tagged agreed to pay $750,000 regarding law enforcement official investigations of its marketing practices in the states of New York and Texas.