If you happened to ever use Formspring or Spring.me, the services that helped pioneer those ‘ask me anything’ websites, you’re probably suddenly getting a lot of spam.
It turns out, a company called Twoo acquired user data from Formspring and Spring.me and decided to use a large chunk of it to sign users up to its dating service, regardless of if they were interested or not.
Twoo sells itself as “the fastest growing place to meet new people” which is probably true, if you like hanging out with shells of accounts that were previously on other services.
Over the last few months plethoras of people have flooded onto Twitter, as well as their personal blogs, to complain about the service randomly creating profiles, despite them not ever recalling signing up.
Perhaps more concerning, I've no recollection of signing up to @Twoo, so do the women being sent to me every day know they're signed up too?
— Andy Barratt (@apbarratt) August 17, 2015
@Twoo Oh look, it's another spam mail from Twoo! No, I don't want to check out women likely unintentionally using your service.
— Alex Völk (@alexvoelk) December 6, 2015
@Twoo why in the world are u screwing my privacy by making me a member w/o my consent
— Sau (@ChaiAndBunMaska) December 21, 2015
Earlier this year home cleaning service HomeJoy shut down for good as it ran out of cash, but suddenly came back from the dead as an entirely new service using customer data that was purchased when the service shut down.
Naturally, people were upset that this had happened without their consent, and Aaron Cheung eventually relented and closed down all of the spinoffs.
Twoo, which claims 11.9 million active users, is owned by Match Group Europe, which happens to be the same company that owns actually-popular dating app Tinder.
When I asked Twoo’s PR team for comment on why it was employing these tactics, things got a little weird. The company told me that “in July, Spring.me and Twoo joined forces, thus enabling all Spring.me users to connect with millions of Twoo users.”
The problem is that Spring.me and Twoo have entirely different purposes. People signed up to Spring.me to talk anonymously, not meet people for dating.
Twoo claims that “before moving profiles to the new platform, we have tried to revive Spring.me’s old platform. Unfortunately, that attempt did not succeed” and that “we wanted to give everyone the opportunity to keep in touch with the people they have met on Spring.me” but it’s one hell of a stretch.
This isn’t the first time Twoo has been caught spamming unsuspecting users. It constantly used confusing tactics to sign up unsuspecting users’ address books and spam their friends too all the way back in 2013.
— Tyra Morrison (@TyraMorrison) November 16, 2015
The company claims that it “notified all users about that transition via e-mail” but it didn’t exactly give them the choice to say “no thanks” — it just created profiles for them.
Instead, if migrated users want to get out, they have to follow a convoluted delete and unsubscribe process to scrub their data from the service. Users have also reported this doesn’t actually delete the account so much as deactivate it.
That said, perhaps it’s a tiny bit better than how cheating site, Ashley Madison, made you delete your account: by paying them.
It’s unethical for a company like Twoo to mass-migrate users like this to another platform, but probably not illegal as many companies have been purchased for their user base in the past.
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s a lot shadier than others, and Twoo has crossed lines that it shouldn’t have, by merging two vastly different user bases into one, assuming it could get away with it.