Fined Again, Tagged Pays $650K To San Fran Authorities
The site previously agreed to pay $750,000 to settle similar allegations with the Attorneys General of New York and Texas. Additionally, it recently settled a lawsuit by agreeing to destroy all the data it collected during an ill-fated registration campaign conducted in the spring of 2009.
At the time, Tagged asked registrants for their email addresses and passwords and then allegedly sent invitations to their contacts. Those messages allegedly appeared to have come from the users, not the site.
Tagged says it stopped that practice last summer, after "a small but vocal minority" complained that the site was "too ambitious in our recruitment efforts."
News of the settlement comes just as a federal judge in San Francisco revived a lawsuit against another social networking site, Reunion.com, that allegedly used similar procedures to enroll members.
Tagged, Reunion and other companies that used similar techniques couldn't have gained access to people's email books if users hadn't cooperated by submitting their addresses and passwords. But many people who did so clearly didn't read the fine print. Instead, they must have assumed that no reputable company would scrape their addresses and then use their names in email campaigns.
Yet, while the aggressive techniques apparently backfired on Tagged -- and have at least cost Reunion hefty legal bills -- Web companies continue to violate users' expectations about how their information will be used. Even Web giants like Google misfire when they attempt to add more social networking features, as happened when the company rolled out Buzz.
Facebook, meanwhile, has not only botched privacy issues in the past, but is preparing to do so again with its new plan to share users' names, photos and other data with outside sites on an opt-out basis. Unless, that is, the company realizes just how badly this idea is going to go over with watchdogs, regulators and, most importantly, its own users.