I-date Ltd., the people behind the social networking platform Quechup (which I happened to blog about in the past), issued a press statement last week in which they announced changing the Quechup sign-up procedure after “criticism in recent weeks”.
Indeed, the procedure seems to have been slightly tweaked, in that you get to choose which people you would like to invite. Even though this feature has been mopped together pretty fast by the looks of it, it actually does work, and even distinguishes between contacts that are already quechup members, and contacts that are not. And indeed, if you tick off the users you don’t want to invite, no mail is sent out. Huzzah, I’d say.
I would like to go into the press release iDate issued to announce this. Strangely (or perhaps, not so), none of this is announced anywhere in the Quechup site itself, and even on the iDate site, it’s just announced as “iDate Corporation updates Quechup’s address book feature”. Moreover, I haven’t been able to track copies of this on PR-sites or blogs. It’s a bit strange that a company that’s been receiving this much flak, is not a bit more voiced in its rebuttal. Anyway, to the press release…
It reads “The criticism has largely arisen due to some members not paying attention to the fact that they were agreeing to invite contacts that were not Quechup members to join them on the service” and then goes on to talk in a very patronizing and condescending way about how people tend to be very careless about terms and conditions when signing up to services like Quechup. That may be the case, but the people I’ve been in contact with concerning this, hardly count as newbies who should have known better…
Mark Finch, iDate CEO, follows up in the same condescending manner by explaining that this new signup process was necessary because people’s expectations have changed due to the practices by Quechup’s so-called “competitors”. Again, I’ve been working professionally with social networking platforms for a few years now, and I’d never even heard of Quechup (and neither had any of my colleagues or the people I asked about it – all of whom are working in digital media or interactive marketing). I had heard of Facebook and LinkedIn though (after all, there’s a big difference between a social networking site and a dating site), and frankly, it’s only proper and decent to ask for permission before you send mails on behalf of someone. It’s not the changing times, it’s just good practice.
Finally, as it to throw up a smoke screen to distract attention from the issue at hand, iDate wishes to comment on some of the “accusations” they have been getting recently :
1. The site does not send viruses or worms of any sort.
2. Quechup does NOT save users’ login or password details for any web mail address books checked, they are accessed once, and then only if provided by the user.
3. Quechup does not send passwords with invite mails. Quechup’s passwords use a strong ‘one-way’ encryption, which allows us to check if an entered value matches, but not to decrypt, making it impossible to send a member’s password with an invite.
4. Quechup does not spoof emails. Quechup clearly identifies itself as the origin of the email in the SENDER email header. Further Quechup uses SPF records and fully complies with Microsoft’s Sender ID Framework for email authentication.
Issue 1 to 3 are to ludicrous to even respond to. As far as I’m concerned, this has never been a problem. I sincerely hope they are true, if only for their business’ sake, but still, we only have to take their word for it.
As to issue 4, this may not be as clear-cut as they make it out to be. The emails that were sent, stated the address book’s owner at the “from”-line. This is what makes the recipient think the mails originated from a person he/she knows and trusts. Not any arcane field in the mail message’s header.
I’ve put this matter to an authority in internet law, and he told me that the practice as described, is illegal in Belgium on at least three counts. Quechup may be hoping that this goes over pretty soon, I doubt it will.