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Quechup is a social networking website that came to prominence in 2007 when it used automatic email invitations for viral marketing to all the e-mail addresses in its members address books. This was described as a "spam campaign" and raised a great deal of adverse comment.
Address book harvesting
The automatic invitation of all the contacts in the e-mail address books of people who signed up to their service was controversial for two reasons:
- It required the permission of the address book owner but not the owners of the email addresses within it.
- Invites were sent to all addresses in the address book.
Reacting to the criticism Quechup's parent company iDate Corporation made a public statement on 17 September 2007, stating that:
"Quechup was one of the first social networking sites to include such a feature back in 2005.
With its growing popularity (social networks), expectations of what features a service should have and how they should work have emerged. Quechup's address check did not conform to what users now expect as the norm."
However, technology blogger Chris Hambly pointed out that text explaining how the feature worked was placed in normal print directly above the feature, raising the question of a users responsibility to read what they are agreeing to, although he noted that this explanatory text failed to clearly state what would happen.
However you view this, no matter what your opinion is on this the fact of the matter is that you should READ what the page says as it is very clear. In any case there is a link which says "I don't have an address book"!... I can only say you should READ these things clearly in the future, it’s quite simple.
In their September 17 statement Glen Finch, Chief Technology Officer stated
This has raised the issue of 'click happy' users 'opting-in' without first reading what they are accepting.
Quechup responded by rapidly changing how it operated its service, and reassuring customers that it was not acting maliciously.
- Quechup changed how its address book check worked within days, clearly giving members the option of which contacts, if any, they wanted to invite.
- Quechup adopted Windows Live ID Delegated Authentication, enabling Live and Hotmail users to grant limited access by logging in directly on Microsoft's secure servers.
- Quechup is a member of SenderScore the world's most comprehensive database of email sender reputation.
- Quechup fully complies with Microsoft's Sender ID Framework for email authentication and uses SPF records.
The Quechup affair encouraged calls for open authentication through an OpenID system such as Yahoo's BBauth, which would allow a user to grant limited access to their data without providing passwords directly to a website. Indeed Quechup adopted Windows Live ID Delegated Authentication, an OpenID system for Windows Live and Hotmail users.
In a more recent development, technology journalist Robert X. Cringely raised the possibility that Quechup may be sending fake dating invitations to subscribers that attempts to get them to sign up to a premium service. In his article, Cringely stated that it was not certain if these fake e-mails were the work of what he called a "rogue Quechup affiliate who gets a commission for sign ups" or a more sophisticated automatic spam operation.
- ↑ Saul Hansell Social network launches worldwide spam campaign New York Times, September 13, 2007
- ↑ Quetchup spam The PC Doctor’s blog
- ↑ Quechup Spam — addresses of parent corporation and attorneys Howard Rheingold, September 3rd, 2007, SmartMobs
- ↑ Had an invite from Quechup? Jemima Kiss Digital Digest Monday September 10 2007 GuardianUnlimited, Accessed 23 June 2008
- ↑ The Quechup Social Networking Platform: IDate Corporation Updates Quechup's Address Book Feature Press release, Newbury - Berks - UK - 18 September 2007
- ↑ Quetchup = Kvetchup Saturday, September 1st, 2007 http://digitalflotsam.com/
- ↑ Quechup And Mass Hysteria - Chris Hambly, 02 September 2007
- ↑ Do social network sites genuinely care about privacy? Charles Arthur The Guardian Thursday September 13 2007, Accessed 13 September 2007
- ↑ Windows Live ID Delegated Authentication grants limited access to users data without providing passwords directly to a website.
- ↑ Lookup for Quechup.com SenderScore reputation database covering email senders
- ↑ The Sender ID Framework is an e-mail authentication technology - Microsoft Sender ID, Accessed 09 December 2008
- ↑ OAuth: Open Authentication Comes Closer to Reality O'Reilly Radar Tuesday 09.25.07
- ↑ Robert X. Cringely Oops, you just spilled Quechup on your pants, InfoWorld, April 7, 2008