Classmates.com settles suit over fake emails | Social networking
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Social networking

Classmates.com settles suit over fake emails

Members paid to see ex-classmates' notes that didn't exist

Classmates.com could pay up to $9.5 million to subscribers to settle a lawsuit that accused the social network sending fake emails from former classmates in an effort to get more subscribers.

Members paid to upgrade their account after getting an email saying a former classmate was trying to contact them could be eligible for a settlement.

Some members allegedly received fake emails telling them that in order to see a note from a former classmate trying to contact them, that they'd have to upgrade their account.

Although Classmates has admitted no wrongdoing in its settlement proposed filed Friday, they have offered $3 in cash or a $2 credit toward the purchase or renewal of a Classmates.com membership. That total could reach $9.5 million.

Techflash.com reports:

At the same time, the settlement also calls for Classmates to offer a $2 renewal/purchase credit to a much larger category of Classmates.com users - everyone who has "registered with or subscribed to" Classmates.com dating back to Oct., 30, 2004. That would include all paying and non-paying members. Excluded from that part of the settlement are people eligible for the other $2 credit or $3 cash payment for upgrading based on a "guestbook" email.

Arstechnica.com says the settlement could have far-reaching consequences.

Classmates "won't be able to simply refer to its 'guestbook' in any marketing; instead, it will have to use "Classmates® Guestbook," and hyperlink any use of the term to a detailed explanation of how the feature works. . . .Similar links will have to appear in the company's terms of service and information pages.

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"Another issue is the handling of login credentials. Apparently, the e-mails contained HTML, and would use it to test for the presence of a cookie that specified if a user was logged in; if they weren't, the e-mail would set the cookie to do so. This, not surprisingly, led to some problems when the company's users forwarded these e-mails—all the recipients would end up logged in to someone else's account.

"Going forward, Classmates will clearly indicate this in its Privacy Policy, and each e-mail that uses a cookie of this sort will contain warnings against forwarding the message in all-caps. Not as good as ending the practice, but better than nothing."

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On the Web

Techflash.com: Classmates to pay up to $9.5m to settle suit over phantom friends

Arstechnica.com: Classmates.com settles suit over misleading e-mails

Settlement: assets.bizjournals.com/cms_media/pdf/cmsettlement.pdf