April 28, 2008

TAKING “VIRAL MARKETING” A BIT TOO LITERALLY: I’ve been getting emails from all sorts of people about a site called “Reunion.com.” Turns out they didn’t send them. Reunion.com did, after perusing their address books:

As part of the process, she submitted her name, gender, e-mail address, birth date and ZIP Code.

Then Schmidt came to a page saying that “we’ll find your friends and family who are already members and also automatically invite any nonmembers to join (it’s free!).” It instructed her to enter the password for her Yahoo e-mail account.

“I thought I was just signing up to read my friend’s message,” Schmidt said. “At no time did I think I was authorizing them to access my online address book.”

Within minutes, though, she started getting e-mails from friends and colleagues asking why she was searching for them on Reunion.com.

As the day progressed, Schmidt realized that every one of the roughly 250 personal and professional contacts in her online address book had received an e-mail, ostensibly from her, saying that she was searching for them and encouraging them to join her at Reunion.com.

“I had to send an e-mail to everyone apologizing for what happened,” she said.

Sounds quite cheesy. I don’t respond to any of these social-network invitations, but I’m certainly glad I didn’t respond to this one.

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