Social Responsibility: Calling Out "Tagged”

Opinion: Web 2.0 means a lot of fuzzy things, and they’re opportunities for the bad guys too. One new social networking site is a poster child for the abuse of social networking.
Business is business, but some things are dishonest, and dishonest usually gets away scot-free on the Internet. You can learn a lot about what legitimate looking sites are capable of, and what ordinary users are willing to do when asked, from the example of Tagged.
Tagged is one in a flood of new social networking sites targeting teenagers. They’re all MySpace wannabees, and perhaps some of them are harmless, but I’m going to focus on Tagged. It first got my attention several weeks ago when I got about six e-mails in rapid succession from her. They were obviously auto-generated invites to join a site and said “[my friend’s name] has added you as a friend on Tagged,” and “Please respond or [my friend’s name] may think you said no :(“. I could tell right off something phony was going on, but I still had better things to do, so I passed, and my friend was apologetic about it. I wasn’t the only one who got the e-mails.
Then I read this blog entry from Symantec and it explained how my friend might have gotten hit: “…when a user signs up for Tagged, they’re practically forced to put in their Webmail credentials. Tagged then logs into your Webmail account as you, accesses your address book and prompts you to e-mail your contacts using your Webmail address as the reply-to.”
Before I actually signed up I decided to read their TOS (terms of service), something I’m sure none of the teenagers they target have done. It’s long and a genuine Nightmare on Elm Street for the abusive and, while we’re at it, misleading rules for privacy.

Nothing in the TOS says that they will be harvesting addresses from your address book, nor what they are entitled to do with those addresses. Perhaps they consider these addresses as being provided for
invitations to Tagged, but that’s clearly not true.
They have no contact link on their page, and the closest link they have to one, with company information, is to http://corp.tagged.com/, a dead
link
. Why am I not surprised?
I have seen the future of teenage exploitation, and it’s on social networking sites. Even the “legit” ones like MySpace creep me out some, and I’m sure Tagged isn’t the only one that’s scams and abuses its users. When users are willing to provide their e-mail login to a Web site, you know we have a long way to go to make the Internet safe.

Harvesting Teenagers

I’m not a big tagged fan– not just for these reasons, but also because it’s a creepy teen-stalking-hot-teen place. I signed up for research a year ago. My co-worker and I checked it out, and before we both knew it, we were getting hit on by teens in very suggestive and aggressive manners.

I got out quickly.

However, now some of our EE fans have their emails being used in the exact manner this article states. Every day we’re (as a collective company under the info@ email address) getting tagged by 5 – 6 kids. At first I thought It was an innocent thing. Clearly not.

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