Tagged.com – The Non-Virus Virus
This morning, I received an email message from a service called Tagged.com. In fact, I received about 8 email messages from them, telling me that there were pictures they wanted to share, and that I’d been “tagged”.
Now, the email service that I use has some pretty decent spam filtering, so I was a bit intrigued as to how it got through, since it didn’t really seem on the up-and-up. So I loaded up Firefox in a Sandboxie sandbox (and if you don’t know what that is, let me know – you should!), and checked out the site.
Tagged.com promotes itself as a social networking service, with all the usual blah-blah. It then explained that I needed to sign up in order to see the content it had promised. I clicked on the sign up link, and looked at the form. I was looking for the Terms of Service checkbox that almost everything has, and lo and behold, it was there on the bottom of the page.
I make it my practice to at least skim through the TOS on just about everything I sign up for these days. It’s fascinating what you discover, and frankly, it’s something more people should be doing. Here’s what I found interesting in Tagged.com’s TOS:
E) Notice Regarding Commercial Email
MEMBERS CONSENT TO RECEIVE COMMERCIAL E-MAIL MESSAGES FROM TAGGED, AND ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT THEIR EMAIL ADDRESSES AND OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION MAY BE USED BY TAGGED FOR THE PURPOSE OF INITIATING COMMERCIAL E-MAIL MESSAGES.
I read this as meaning, “You’re giving us permission to use your email address to spam other people.” And my guess is that’s exactly what happened. I don’t think that the person who sent me the email actually intended to “invite” me, per se. I think they just sent me out an email, from her personal address. Perhaps she used their handy “upload your contacts” feature, or something like that.
And all this from a site that promotes itself as being for teen use… giving out personal email addresses – sheesh…
In any case, this means that this spam wasn’t due so much to infection, as it was part of the service she signed up for. And since I did turn out to know her, she sailed through my spam filters.
I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV. But the bad guys will continue to use laws against the generally law-abiding. Know what you are agreeing to. You could regret it otherwise.