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How Tagged Works


Tagged Controversy
Millions of people have received e-mail messages similar to this one, which encourages you to enter your e-mail account login information.
Millions of people have received e-mail messages similar to this one, which encourages you to enter your e-mail account login information.
Screenshot by Nathan Chandler

So how did a social networking community manage to become a lightning rod for major controversy and earn the designation from Time Magazine as The World's Most Annoying Web site? A lot of the hullabaloo stems from Tagged's aggressive recruitment of new users.

Many people discover Tagged for the first time through an e-mail message from a friend. The message bears the Tagged banner and a message indicating that your friend sent new photos to Tagged. You're encouraged to click Yes to see the photos, and if you don't, the message states, "Please respond or [your friend's name] may think you said no." A sad-face emoticon follows this sentence, implying that your friend will be disappointed if you don't respond.

Click Yes and you begin the registration process for Tagged, ostensibly so you can eventually see your friend's photos. As part of the process, Tagged requests your primary e-mail account and password, supposedly to connect you with your friends on the site.

The problem is that there are likely no photos to see, and once you enter your e-mail address login information, Tagged sends the same message to every person in your e-mail contact list. The recipients will see a message indicating that you've uploaded photos for them to view, even though you haven't yet created any public photo albums.

Why would Tagged engage in this type of behavior? The site administrators want you to help spread the word about its brand. In fact, Tagged's Terms of Service explicitly states that users "agree that their e-mail addresses and other personal information may be used by Tagged for the purpose of initiating commercial e-mail messages."

This forceful harvesting of e-mail addresses upsets many users. And so does the rest of the registration process, in which you're prompted enter personal information (such as your cell-phone number) in the hopes of winning cash or other prizes.

Users' complaints aren't falling on deaf ears. In June 2009, founder Greg Tseng offered remorse for Tagged's recruiting methods on his company blog, indicating that Tagged received more than 2,000 complaints regarding the registration procedure, and that Tagged would make an effort to prevent unwanted mass e-mailing again.


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