Fact Check


E-mailed invitations from friends to join the Tagged.com web site are a form of scam or virus?

Published June 5, 2009


Claim:   E-mailed invitations from friends to join the Tagged.com web site are a form of scam or virus.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, June 2008]

I understand tagged.com is a virus ridden site and produces a virus that invades through the users address book..any truth to this?

I have, in the past two days. received several email messages — often from the same person — saying "___ has sent you a message from Tagged or photos from Tagged. When i called the supposed sender to ask about it, they said they did not send them & had received the same messages.

We deleted them all but have been getting more of the same messages from other friends. Is this a new virus? Where & how did it start?

This is fyi - I just received an email supposedly from a friend in Atlanta saying she wanted to share her pictures with me and I had to sign up to be her friend on a social networking sight named "Tagged."

She is not a photographer, and not the kind to share pics over the internet, but is a friend, and I didn't want to offend her, so I began the process. I didn't like info they were asking for (phone no, cell phone #, password, etc.) so I cancelled out of it and replied to the email, telling her I was her friend but wouldn't join the site.

That email went to her - it was her legitimate address - but she emailed me back saying she had NOT tried to share any pics with me. Shortly after I got another email from her saying she had just received one from a friend who, when contacted, also had NOT sent it or tried to share pics with her. She ran a virus scan quickly and no virus was attached, so it is evidently some SCAM going around.

My thought is that it is from someone trying to sign you up for phone rings, games, etc. I noticed about halfway through the sign-up process that the address in the line changed from the original one. So be warned - if you receive anything from anyone asking you to join TAGGED and see their pictures, DO NOT JOIN - do not respond in any way to it. It is phony as a $3 bill.


Origins:   Millions of Internet users have received messages like the ones referenced above, e-mails with subject lines indicating that some acquaintance has sent them photos or a private message on "Tagged" and urging them to visit and join the site to view the material lest the sender "think you said no :(":

Many recipients, upon learning that these mysterious messages were not actually sent by the persons named, have believed them to be a form of virus or scam. While these messages may not technically fall completely within either the "virus" or "scam" classifications (because they don't furtively install malicious software on PCs, nor is there an intent to disable computers or obtain money through fraud behind them),

the method by which they're spread and their deceptiveness include elements of both those classes.

Tagged.com is a social networking site which has been in existence since 2004. Its current registration process asks applicants to supply an e-mail address and a password for accessing the corresponding e-mail account so Tagged can "match you up with your friends," information which the company apparently uses to traverse address books (or other e-mail contacts) and send e-mailed invitations to the addresses found there — invitations like the ones noted above, which deceptively appear to have been sent by the Tagged members themselves and claim that the recipients have been "added as a friend," "sent photos" or "sent a private message" on Tagged (even though no deliberate "adding" has taken place, nor have any photos or private messages for the recipients been posted for viewing).

An April 2007 eWeek article describes and verifies Tagged's disingenuous e-mail generation process, and McAfee SiteAdvisor entry for Tagged.com has logged numerous complaints about the practice.

Tagged.com's current terms of service (TOS) now include the following disclaimer acknowledging that its members' personal information may be used for the purpose of "initiating commercial e-mail messages" (i.e. sending spam):

E) Notice Regarding Commercial Email


In November 2009, tagged.com was ordered to pay $500,000 in penalties and costs to the state of New York and $250,000 in penalties and costs to Texas.

Tagged CEO Greg Tseng said the 5-year-old company had voluntarily proposed reforms and overhauled its registration process. It also planned to add more privacy features. However, the company has failed to admit any wrongdoing.

Last updated:   14 November 2009


    Seltzer, Larry.   "Harvesting Teenagers."

    eWeek.   10 April 2007.

    Associated Press.   "Tagged.com Settles With NY, Texas in Invite Fight."

    9 November 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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