Tagged, Not it: My Brief (and Creepy) Encounter with a “Social Discovery” Site
Call me naive, but when I read about a social networking site called Tagged that is blowing it up with their user engagement, I had to learn more. I admit, I had never heard of the “social discovery” site, where as the Founder/CEO recently described it, people go “to make new social relationships.” If you’re wondering how that’s any different from say, Facebook, his answer is this: “Facebook is the place where you maintain your current 150…Tagged will be the place where you refresh that 150.”
As of Sunday night, a quick Google search for Tagged only brought up the site itself, a Wikipedia page, this Mashable article, and the company’s social media. Maybe that’s because the buzz is just beginning for this company, but with over 300 million members (according to Tagged.com), it seems there are a few missing pieces to this picture. Am I wrong to think that 300 million members is a whole lotta people for a social networking site to score when it has received little to no coverage since launching in 2004?
It may have been at that point that I decided to jump right in and set up an account.
The website lays out your options pretty clearly. Sign up to: 1) meet new people, 2) play games, or 3) share your interests (aka join a chat room). Keeping in mind that this site makes your information available to everyone, the red flags were fast coming: to create an account, you have to provide a few key pieces of information. Name and email seem fine, but the birthdate and zip code seem unnecessary. Once you give them what they want, you’re taken to a member database where you can begin trolling hundreds (ahem, 300 million) profile pictures to see if there’s anyone you want to meet. Immediately, the layout and design evoke some kind of online personals site rather a place where any legitimate connections, romantic or otherwise, are forming.
It may have been at this point that I got the creeps and scrambled to deactivate my profile.
Soon after that, I found this 2009 article about how the NY Attorney General sued Tagged.com for deceptive marketing practices and for allegedly stealing the identities of more than 60 million people.
Proceed with Caution
Okay, so starting with the obvious: from everything I saw, this site seems more akin to some kind of free online dating site (and I use “dating” loosely) than to something competing with the likes of Facebook or Tumblr. While “social discovery” sites may be on the rise, my personal feeling is that anytime a site promotes meeting “special new friends for free,” both the intentions and the caliber of members can take a fast dive south. This may be the case for Tagged…or maybe I just found myself in the wrong place. At any rate, here’s my big “Proceed with Caution!” sign to anyone enticed by the recent ComScore report to include this site in their social media strategy.
Anyone out there using Tagged to form meaningful, personal connections? Do I have it all wrong about this site? Could social discovery actually be the next big thing as some data suggests? Please share!