Quechup: the DIY email virus

7 September 2007

Like a lot of people, I was a bit surprised to get several requests from people to join their Quechup network. Surprised because they were largely from one-off contacts who managed to not send out similar invitations for things like Facebook. I looked at them and, as I had some things to do, decided to put off investigating what Quechup was all about. By the time I got back to it, you could see how popular Quechup had become in the space of less than one day. These people seem determined to piss off every blogger on the planet, it seems.

I'd link to a bunch of them but you'd get the same effect by plugging 'Quechup' into Google's blog search (well maybe one, someone who seems more than a little irritated by the episode). It seems that, when people did the usual trick of plugging in their address books to the site to see who was also on the network, Quechup simply sent an invitation email to everybody in the address book. Those people using Gmail probably then found that meant everybody who they had ever exchanged emails with.

To see what would happen, I just tried creating a fake account on Quechup with a sacrificial email account and one address in its book that comes straight back to me. In one box, Quechup claimed that the address book would only be used Facebook-style - look at who was already on Quechup and invite only them. But in another one alongside, it said that non-Quechup users would be invited. With the fake account, I wasn't taking any chances. I got zero matches on the search, which was the right answer. And I haven't seen an invite turn up from Quechup, so it's possible that the programmers have made a quick fix or have realised that pretending to be an email virus was not the greatest idea they had this week. Or they might be backed up on outgoing emails.

Curiously, for a MySpace-like social networking site, I can't actually find an official Quechup blog where you might find various people vainly apologising. However, at iDate's corporate site, the slogan is "stand out from the crowd". Mission accomplished, I'd say.