A couple of weeks ago I was invited to join a relatively new social network called Quechup by someone I trust and who is also pretty deeply involved with social networks. So I did the free sign up, looked around the site a bit, connected to my gmail directory, didn't find much of interest, and dropped things there. Today, I started receiving bunches (does email come in bunches?) of automated replies from people who were on vacation. This confused me as I didn't think I had sent any of them email.
Then long-lost acquaintances started writing. It was nice to hear from some of them, but others were mysterious. Then it became clear that these were all responses to invitations sent from Quechup to join my network. Had I hit some send button inadvertently last week that caused a slurry of messages to gush out to everyone in my address book? I started sending apologies. Then a friend wrote to say that Quechup was well-known for "aggressive spamming of mail directories." Not only was everyone I knew being spammed: family, friends, acquaintances, professional contacts, doctor's offices, schools, mailing lists…, but I had been spammed 1000-times over!
Superficially, it appears that this is a non-destructive spam, but how many people will be annoyed to receive email that has appeared to come from me and never wish to hear from me again? And now I'm getting invitations from all sorts of Quechup members who I suspect are being spammed just as I was. I better get online and start deleting my entire profile.
Then there is Timo's eBay spam-of-the-day. He sold his iPod for a price that seemed too-good-to-be true. Then he noticed that the account with the highest bid hadn't been used since 2004. He received a PayPal notification with his name on it, but it wasn't from a PayPal address. The shipping instructions were for a store location in Nigeria, even though the account was American. Finally, he received a message from eBay saying that the winning account had been hijacked and the sale nullified.
eBay has relisted the item, but you'd think they could have made the sale to the runner-up bid. And the sad part is, there's really nothing he could have done to change this outcome. eBay is a dangerous place, and sadly, the entire Web is full of pitfalls. We're still browsing in the 21st century equivalent of the wild west. Browser beware!