I usually think of myself as a pretty web-savvy person who takes care to protect online information and my online presence. Today, however, I fell for a pretty bad and embarrassing web trick.
Over my first cup of coffee, I opened an email from an acquaintance. Here is a part of it:
Clicking on the button to view the message took me to the tagged.com website, where I was told to create a profile to see my friend’s photos. At this point, the site looked very much like flickr.com (which I used to post the photo; ironic, isn’t it?), so I didn’t think there was much risk. It asked for my yahoo mail address, which I did put in because it said it could look to see who among my friends also had accounts. As I got to more and more screens asking for more and more information, I finally bailed out before finishing. As I usually do on sites such as this, I made minor "mistakes" on my birthdate. I stopped short of entering a mailing address or phone number.
Imagine my surprise when I started getting emails immediately for a failed address and an out-of-office autoreply. Tagged had hijacked my yahoo contact list and, without my giving permission, started sending emails to everyone in my list. I don’t know how many went out; they aren’t in my yahoo mail "sent" box. I presume these went to everyone. If so, that’s highly embarassing.
I found the spot for cancelling my account even though I didn’t finish creating it. That appeared to work and there was a box for giving feedback. I blasted them there and also tried to send feedback through another account on their "contact" page, but that bounced back quickly with a note it was sent to an address (firstname.lastname@example.org) that is not monitored.
I have found contact information for them separately. This is from Business Week:
Tagged, Inc. operates as a social-networking site for teens. The company’s social networking site includes profiles, fluid widget embedding, integrated video, and chat; and helps users to keep in touch with their friends and make new ones. It has a strategic partnership with Razz, Inc. Tagged, Inc. was founded in 2004 and is based in San Francisco, California.
110 Pacific Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94111
Founded in 2004
They don’t appear to answer this phone number at this hour (7 am Pacific) on a Saturday. I will keep after them. I am going to push as hard as I can for them to identify how many of my contacts they spammed and get them to send apologies on my behalf. [I know, that’s a Quixotic effort, but a guy has to try.] At the very least, I’m also going to do my best to make sure people know what a despicable operation Tagged.com is. My personal experience speaks for itself.
Don’t create a profile on Tagged.com unless you want your email contacts hijacked. I am still running my various antivirus, antispyware and antimalware software to see if they left a "present" behind that will do further harm. I’ll post an update in comments if I find anthing disturbing of that type.
Note to Tagged.com legal counsel: a statement can’t be libel if it is the truth, so bite me.
To everyone in my email contacts who got something from Tagged: I apologize profusely.