SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The social networking site Tagged.com electronically pilfers email address books and uses them to solicit new members with a deceptive “viral email campaign” whose messages appear to come from friends, a class action claims in Federal Court. The class claims a federal judge enjoined the CEO from doing that 3 years ago.
Lead plaintiffs Miriam Slater and Sara Golden say they received emails from Tagged.com that appeared to have been sent by friends, inviting them to view pictures through Tagged.
Slater said she would “not have opened the email or visited Tagged.com if not for the fact that she believed the sender was someone she knew.”
Slater and Golden say they had to visit the Tagged site to see the pictures, and though neither intended to become Tagged members, they had to provide Tagged with personal information, including their names, email addresses and birth dates, thereby unwittingly becoming members of the site.
They say Tagged deceptively induced them to give it access to their email address books, with the message: “Enter your Gmail account name and password so we can match you up with your friend.” Tagged repeatedly uses the sneaky trick get new email addresses from people’s address books in pursuit of new members, the class claims.
Slater and Golden say that in 2006 U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in San Francisco prohibited Tagged CEO Greg Tseng “from promoting any commercial product or service by sending commercial emails that contain false or misleading header information, contain deceptive subject headings; or that fail to clearly and conspicuously indicate that the message is an advertisement or solicitation.” (United States v. Jump-Start Technologies.)
In an interview, Tagged spokeswoman Lisa Hempel did not directly address the complaint that Tagged swiped address books and uses them for solicitations without people’s consent or knowledge.
“Social networking is about connecting with people,” Hempel said. “It’s no fun to use a social networking site by yourself. The address book feature is very useful for new members to help them build their initial network.”
Hempel cited some of Tseng’s blog postings on Tagged.com in which he responded to allegations of identity theft and invasion of privacy.
On July 9, Tseng wrote, “In no instance did Tagged access a person’s personal address book without their consent and no emails were sent without the person giving us permission. We realize that some were confused and accidentally agreed to invite their friends. We are truly sorry for any inconvenience or frustration that these people experienced”
The wants Tagged enjoined from its email solicitation campaign, disgorgement of its ill-gotten gains, and compensatory, statutory and punitive damages for violation of the Stored Communications Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
The class is represented by David Parisi with Parisi & Havens of Sherman Oaks.