Spam Wars

Amazon Gets on the Accidental Spam Bandwagon, Freaks Out Kindle Owners with Auto-Subscription Offer


Accidentally embarrassing spam faux pas? All the cool corporations are doing it these days. A week or so after The New York Times sent out an email about cancelled home delivery that was supposed to go out to 300 people and instead went out to 8 million, Amazon committed its own spamming PR debacle.

As AllThingsD reports, Amazon had to issue an apology last night to Kindle owners who received a notice about automatic enrollment for a subscription to something called the Kindle Compass that: 1. they didn’t sign up for and 2. “would automatically continue at the monthly subscription rate” if they did nothing. Nothing like hearing that the mere act of going about your day as usual now comes with a mysterious additional fee. Read More

Data Dating

OkCupid Is Easy to Cheat On, Mathematically Speaking

They can teach you how to get a date

OkCupid has earned a reputation for its fun and insightful use of data, playing with the mountains of statistics it has on the science of love. But today it met its match in the mathematics blog Isomorphismes.

The main thrust of the argument here is that the mandatory questions users need to answer when creating a profile and finding a match really skew the system. They are often rather sensitive questions, for example Isomorphismes’ mandatories include: Do you think homosexuality is a sin, would you try to control your mate with suicide, would the world be a better place if people with low IQs were not allowed to reproduce (yikes!). Read More

Spam or Not?

Does Tumblr Have a Spam Bot Problem?


Is Tumblr a pageview party, or a can o’ spam? We almost missed this weekend discussion sparked by a post by Croatian blogger Sven Duplić about the percentage of Tumblr users that are spam-o-bots. And we’re not talking about the lovable TumblrBot–we’re talking about that cute girl who has never posted to her blog but seems to love everything you write. “On my blog, the precentage of bot-visitors are, by my judgement, is as high as 2/3,” Mr. Duplić wrote. Read More

Classified Combat

New Billionaire AirBnB Still Spamming Craigslist, Not Returning the Favor

Dubrovnick is lovely this time of year

In late May, Y Combinator-backed start-up AirBnB, which just raised a monster at a $1 billion plus valuation, was revealed to be using what many consider a black hat technique: relentlessly crawling  Craigslist for vacation properties and emailing the posters on these listings to suggest they use AirBnB instead.

The company apologized for the spamming, stating that it was the work of  independent contractors who had been let go. “The Craigslist thing is unethical and against Craigslist’s rules but not, as far as anyone can tell, illegal. It’s sad and bad and not to be encouraged.” This was  “not a tactic we condone or endorse” and “our policy to forbid such actions,” said AirBnB.

But AirBnB wasn’t about to stop leveraging Craigslists massive classified platform, by far the largest in the world. In fact they have automated the process for users, creating a “promote” button that exports AirBnB posts directly to Craigslist. Read More