Monday, August 4, 2008

A Good Gag, But With A Catch.

Go ahead and watch the video above, but don't follow the link back to the web site until you read the rest of this.

This is a good gag, a very good gag, so good that many people are doing it and, in the process, giving this company the email addresses of all their friends, for who knows what purpose, as somebody did to me. The company is a legitimate marketing company and they admit in the small print that they are going to send you email. There is an opt-out option, blah blah blah, but the gag is so good 99% of people will blithely give out the email addresses of all of their friends.

When you get something like this, as I did today, it's because a friend did exactly that.

But it is a really good gag, spoiled only slightly because I feel I need to warn you about the spam part. I have not given this outfit the email addresses of any of my friends, but I did give them both of mine. (They already had one of them.) You may be tempted to do the same, but be forewarned. They’re doing this to get email addresses for subsequent marketing campaigns for their website and possibly other advertisers. If you can live with that then do what I did, play the “prank” on yourself. You have to give up your email address, maybe more than one. (I used one as “my” address and the other as my “friend’s” address.) Then you can send the link to your friends without giving their email addresses away.

If you do it their way, your friend receives an email that looks like it came from you, with a link to a web site. Here is the email I would have sent.

Dear Concerned Voter,

This happened so fast and seemed so unbelievable that I haven't had a chance to tell anybody, but apparently you will hear about it soon enough.


Chuck Cowdery

You can see the web site about me here, which is all perfectly safe unless you volunteer more information. Oh, they'll probably plant some cookies, but no worse than every other web site you use, including this one. It's even more effective when you see it on the web site.

As I said, the sponsor appears to be a legitimate marketing company and is doing everything by the book. Their privacy policy is here.

There is no law against being clever, at least not yet.

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