I get a lot of invitations to join new sites and services from friends and acquaintances, and often I’ll check them out as it’s useful to see what’s bubbling under. So this morning I wasn’t surprised to see a note asking me to join ‘Quechup’, a new social network site.
However I was disturbed to notice that the invitation had actually been sent to a mailing list I subscribe to (hi, Gord0) rather than to me individually. That set some bells ringing, so when I noticed a mention on Boing Boing I read it carefully –
If you receive an invitation from a social networking site called Quechup, run screaming. Shava Nerad is among many who pointed us to their horrible spamming practices, and says, “The blogs are calling it ‘the Q problem’ and a ‘trust virus.’ Bad juju, in general, not to mention they are one of those sites that sends you your selected username and password in the clear.” By the time you read this, there will probably be some news articles out about how evil they are. Until then, watch out.
A quick search revealed a lot of chatter, and some insightful comments including this one from Doug Meacham on CC Chapman’s blog:
Hi CC. I think they actually do “get it”. As innovative spammers, they have effectively leveraged the constant wave of new socnet creation to build a powerful email capture tool knowing that early adopters with large contact lists will sign up to check it out. I guess we all need to be more cautious with granting access to our information.
That, of course, is the point – and they now have my email address too.
There’s little to be done about things like this – except promote their despicable practices, add them to our filters and ensure that they go away. And remember to check the blogosphere before signing up for anything, as there will usually be someone who got there before you and has discovered the downside.
One final point: if I wanted to build a nice active email list for spamming then creating a fake social network site would seem like a pretty cheap way of going about it…
Update: Jon Newton over at p2p.net has more to say.