Letting your guard down

Recently, my inbox has been bombarded with invites to Quechup, which purports to be a social networking site. It’s a familiar pattern, you sign up, and it offers to check your gmail contacts (which is everyone you’ve ever exchanged emails with) to see if they’ve already joined. Here’s the rub – it spams everyone in your address book WITHOUT ASKING YOU FIRST, and the process begins again.

The beauty of this approach is the email COMES FROM YOUR FRIEND! If you mark it as spam (as Julien suggests), you’ve marked your friend as spam, not the site. Ouch.

Update: Julien says gmail is smarter than I think it is. Score one for Julien, and Google…. But be careful with other email spam filters, they may not be as intelligent!

We’ve become so used to signing up for the “latest one” that the checking of email accounts for contacts is almost automatic. I regularly do it with services like Twitter and LinkedIn, so I guess I’m lucky these people aren’t tools like the people behind Quechup.

The invites I got were from people I knew and trusted like CC Chapman. I don’t want to single him out, but the post and comments are worth reading. If it weren’t for my iSP Videotron going down for multiple hours for the 3rd time this week, I’d have been duped too. As it was, I saw the warnings before I acted on the invites.

What surprised me was the “caliber” of people getting caught here. I’m talking very savvy folk, not your stereotypical 70-year-old this-guy-in-Nigeria-really-can-make-me-rich people.

Christopher Penn has labeled this a “TrustVirus”, and the term fits perfectly. There’s a huge opportunity for ne’er-do-wells too get canoe-fuls of valuable information just by abusing online trust. Chris points out that this was rather innocuous, at least it seems so right now. If iDate is a front for spam though, a lot of people are gong to get new email addresses soon.

Hopefully, the worst that will come out of this one is that it’s a wake-up call and a reminder to be REALLY careful when sharing information. Think about this experience the next time you blindly add “The Friend-Poke-Fart Generator” on facebook. When you just click on yes to let it see your information, you’re giving everything away – In fact, you’ve already lost the rights to anything you put on facebook. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the terms of use on facebook :

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof,

OUCH OUCH OUCH!!! How stupid have we become? That’s a great picture of you playing soccer with your kid, and soccer-ball Corp is super happy to be using it in a major print ad with you not getting a dime.

It’s time for us Social Media types to smarten up, or lose the right to bitch about it later… There’s no Norton Anti-Virus that will work for misplaced trust.

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6 Comments

  1. Thanks Bob. I was pretty sure this was a scam so I never did follow through on the emailS that I have received. Good to know that my trust nobody skepticism has its uses…

  2. Bob, I completely agree with you. Here’s a company that did everything it said it would. Shame on us for not reading the small print.

  3. Nico says:

    That’s why I put my photos on Flickr instead of Facebook.

  4. There’s something huge brewing here that Quetchup and Facebook and a few other experiences is teaching us. We’re all thinking about it right now. You can almost FEEL it out there. We’re looking at our email addresses, thinking about different resources, wondering whether we should dump gmail for pop3, dump facebook for our websites, keep x,y,z data closer to us.

    As with everything, it’s a scale to consider.

    Im’ considering.

  5. Mark says:

    It seems that the proliferation of social media tools and our voracious appetite to connect and consume has made the creators of the tools incredibly unscrupulous and opportunistic. These people will actually create problems in the productive expansion of social media tools and communities. I can hear the bad press coming.

    I agree — the time has come for the communities to choose carefully in quantity and quality.

  6. Andrea Ross says:

    Shame on me for not reading bobgoyetche.com before responding to my backlogged inbox upon return from vacation. If I’d read this 24 hours ago I wouldn’t have had to spend this entire day cringing in anticipation of the next nasty anti-spam email retaliation.

    In my rush to address the email backlog which resulted from 3 weeks offline and in response to several invitations in my inbox, this time last night I hurriedly registered for Quechup.com and, even though I actually marked all listed contacts as “do not invite” or whatever, I got completely scammed by the quechup outbox spam scam.

    So much for my “if it’s good enough for … then it’s good enough for me” approach to joining the social media tool du jour.

    My fear of getting scammed is once again greater than my fear of being left out of the latest lemmingsOnline craze.

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