New York AG to Sue Tagged for E-Mail Abuses

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is preparing legal action against social networking site Tagged, which he says engaged in spamming and deceptive e-mail practices.

In a letter to Tagged’s attorney, the AG alleges the firm fraudulently induced people to sign up by indiscriminately sending e-mail invitations to its existing users’ contacts, and then falsely telling those contacts that the account holder had sent them photos. Once those individuals clicked through to see the photos, they were prompted to join the service.

“Every contact in their address books was spammed by Tagged — relatives, friends, colleagues, and business contacts — and led to believe that the consumers had posted pictures on Tagged.com for them to see,” according to the AG’s letter.

In a blogged response, Tagged CEO Greg Tseng rejected the accusations.

“In no instance did Tagged access a person’s personal address book without their consent and no e-mails were sent without the person giving us permission,” he wrote.

Tseng said Tagged’s practice of e-mailing invitations to its users’ contacts is in line with standard practices for social networking companies. However, he acknowledged the firm had made errors in how it obtained permission to send those e-mails as part of a new registration process.

That process, initiated in June and suspended after just one week, used the site’s photo sharing feature to encourage people to e-mail their contacts. But Tagged says the new system made it too easy for users to “inadvertently” request that e-mails be sent to their entire contact lists. According to a mea culpa Tseng posted back in June, approximately 2,000 direct complaints were sent to Tagged during the week it was up and running.

“When our company tested a new registration process, we discovered that our ‘invite your friends’ language was confusing,” Tsentg wrote. “We immediately stopped using this registration process, before being contacted by the Attorney General’s office”.

“We realize that we live by — and can die by — what members say about us,” he added.

The AG plans to sue Tagged under General Business Law for deceptive business practices and false advertising. Tagged has five days to present evidence that proceedings should not be undertaken.

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