• Lawsuit Claims Site "Harvested" Email Addresses
  • August 26, 2009
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • Social networking site Tagged.com has been served with a class action complaint alleging that it tapped into the email address books of consumers and then spammed those addresses with misleading ads. The lawsuit names Miriam Slater and Sarah Golden as the plaintiffs.

    “Tagged harvested millions of email addresses from the email address books of consumers,” states the complaint filed earlier this month in federal court in San Francisco. “Then, using these consumers’ email account credentials, Tagged sent unsolicited advertisements to the harvested email addresses, making the messages appear as if they were invitations to join Tagged sent by persons known to the recipients.” The complaint, which seeks class action status, charges Tagged with violating various laws, including the federal Stored Communications Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    The lawsuit follows an announcement by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that he plans to sue Tagged for false advertising, invasion of privacy, and engaging in a deceptive business practice.

    The California case was brought by two named plaintiffs. The first alleges that she received a Tagged email on June 6 that purported to be from an acquaintance who wanted to share photos. She alleges that she visited the site and provided the company with information, but only because she wanted to view the pictures. Tagged never disclosed that she was actually registering to join the site or that it would harvest her email addresses and then solicit those contacts, Slater alleges. The second plaintiff alleges that she joined Tagged after receiving an invitation that appeared to have been sent by Slater.

    The same plaintiffs firms that brought the case against Tagged.com also have separate cases pending against Facebook and ad companies NebuAd and Adzilla for invasion of privacy.

    Why it matters: Tagged, which was founded in 2004, has been the subject of numerous customer complaints for sending deceptive bulk mail. A Time magazine article called Tagged “The World’s Most Annoying Website.” The site asks users for their email username and password, checks their email address books for contacts, and repeatedly sends email invitations to people who are not yet on Tagged, stating that they have been “added as a friend” or that the inviter has sent them photos on Tagged.