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Quechup sends spam in members' names

Social network Quechup has taken viral marketing to a new and unpopular level by automatically sending invitations in members' names to their entire address book.

Quechupdescribes itself as "the social network platform sweeping the globe." But users are not happy with the kudzu-like growth of Quechup, as invitations to join are being spread through a controversial viral marketing campaign that is ticking off a lot of people.

When you join Quechup, the program searches your address book and sends an invitation out to everyone in your book. Users are somewhat accustomed to having contact lists searched to find out who else they know is already using the social network. The mass auto-invitations to everyone you know, sent in your name, forms a new and unwelcome twist.

Web Worker Daily writes a thoughtful analysis of the situation, pointing out that Quechup's fine print does state in a roundabout manner, "Choose the address book with the most contacts and we'll search for matches so you can add them to your friends network and invite non Quechup members to join you..."

But Web Worker Daily also lists lessons to be learned from this situation, including "mess with expectations at your peril," and "people don't read."

I'll second that last conclusion, especially when it comes to social network invitations. But there is more going on here. Who among us hasn't half-heartedly accepted an invitation to "connect" with a marginal friend or a friend-of-a-friend (aka a stranger)? We feel obligated by politeness and it's easier to click a quick "accept" rather than to have the shadow of a rejection hanging over your head.

Quechup is taking unfair advantage of our unspoken social contract. When you accept that invitation out of politeness, you aren't expecting to automatically propagate the chain. There is an important--though annoying--lesson in here about making conscious choices online, and realizing that reading the fine print before clicking "yes" is always a good idea.