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Where technology and culture collide

Sunday, July 15, 2007

New VoIP Service Tricks You Into 'Spamming'

A cool-sounding new VoIP service enables Skype-like phone calls over the Internet -- without signups. Unfortunately, the experience is ruined by a misleading dialog box that implies some of your contacts are already using the service ("Here are your closest friends on Yoomba") and says they can be alerted "let them know you are on!" The implication is that it's an AIM like buddy list, and that existing users will be passively notified. Instead, the service SPAMS THE ENTIRE LIST with a marketing-lingo laden spam e-mail... from YOU!

Comments:

Blogger Anne said...

Hey Mike! This is a big issue with many of the current crop of social networking sites too; we wrote it up over at the Internet Patrol when we discovered that Flixster was spamming their users' entire Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, and Hotmail address books with invitations to join Flixster "from" the user. How were they getting those address books? They ask the users for their passwords at sign-up, making it look very convincingly like they are somehow partnered with Yahoo, etc. (even using their logos, so it looks like a regular Yahoo login page, for example)!

We first noted it when we started getting "personal invitations" from Flixster users to our role accounts, and we unraveled it from there. It turns out that many other sites are doing it as well; so there is a dual issue of both the spam appearing to come 'from you', and the fact that they are asking people for their passwords (and people are giving them to them!) to access their address books. We tried to sign up for Yoomba after reading about it, but they require Windows so far, which we don't run. Did they grab your Outlook address book, or your address book from an online service, or?

(Note I am not linking to our article on Flixster, which, to give them credit, they showed up to and responded, as I'm not sure of your out-linking policy, but it's on the Internet Patrol and you can find it by searching for "flixster".)

Anne

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 4:39:00 PM  

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