Kamala Harris (D)

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline)-The social network Tagged has agreed to pay San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris's office $650,000 to settle claims that it sent millions of deceptive e-mail messages to consumers to build its membership.

Harris, the Democratic frontrunner for California attorney general, announced the settlement with the owners of Tagged.com on Monday.

The San Francisco-based company was accused of sending up to 60 million e-mail messages from April to June 2009 to prospective members. The solicitations claimed that a friend had sent a photograph or private message through the Tagged system.

Harris said the e-mails led consumers into creating a new membership that also gave Tagged access to their entire contact list, which the site raided during consumers' enrollment process.

"Whether you're doing business on Main Street or in cyber space, you can't deceive the customer," said Harris, who is vying to succeed fellow Democrat Jerry Brown as the Golden State's chief legal officer.

"We cannot in the name of aggressive marketing allow social networking sites and other tech companies to use unfair practices that breech our trust, invade our privacy and tarnish our good names," she added.

The settlement includes $400,000 in civil penalties and $250,000 in investigative costs.

Tagged Inc. last year paid $500,000 to settle a similar case brought by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The company also agreed to pay Texas $250,000 to settle a case brought by Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Founded in 2004, Tagged.com boasts a membership of more than 80 million people. The company claims to be the third largest social network in the United States.

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