A Year Of Spam: The Twoo Experience

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Twoo, “the fastest growing place to meet new people,” has been spamming people for over a year.

Users have been complaining that they get unsolicited emails from the app, that the app messages all of their contacts without their understanding, and that it’s unclear how to delete their accounts.

I covered Twoo’s questionable growth techniques a year ago, when co-founder and CEO Lorenz Bogaert said it was “just not clear enough.” He claimed, “We do not send any messages without the prior consent of the user,” and said the company “had already decided to add an additional confirmation step to avoid any unintended actions.”

And yet, a year later, problems with Twoo persist. The connect with friends via email component, which is what users have complained about the most, looks functionally the same as when I wrote about the company a year ago.

Search “Twoo spam” on Twitter (don’t dare trying just “Twoo,” it’s an island of misfit grammar), and you’ll see user complaints from the past three years.

Similar complaints have surfaced in over one hundred comments on my original Twoo story, and in Apple App store and Google Play store reviews (although there are a number of positive reviews in those stores as well).

Twoo offers a number of explanations in its Privacy Policy and FAQs–#7 is “Twoo sends invitations to my e-mail contacts without my permission.” In the Privacy Policy, the company states:

“Twoo offers members an easy import tool to invite their mail contacts to register on Twoo. If you decide to import your contacts, you confirm that you have their consent to do so and you accept that an automatic e-mail invitation and reminder will be sent on your behalf to the contacts you have selected. Twoo stores the contact details of your friends only for the purpose of automatically connecting them with you after their registration.”

A year ago, I wrote, “At the very best, the site is unnecessarily confusing. At the worst, it is purposefully complex in order to message unsuspecting users’ contacts to increase its membership.”

It’s now clear that the latter is true. Twoo uses these confusing tactics, from auto-selecting every address in your contacts book to making a “next” button that looks like it skips the email connect step but actually is just another “connect” button, to grow its user base–according to the site, Twoo has over 15 million (!!) active users.

While tech publications cover more high profile companies’ growth techniques, Twoo is rarely covered. And while this is certainly not affecting users at the same scale as the infamous Scamville,  Twoo is driving some people crazy, with little recourse.

The company is located in Belgium, and the only contact information I could find on the site was the generic email address info-en@twoo.com. It looks like Twoo responds to some complaints via Twitter; most of its replies point users to its terms of service, or links to unsubscribe or delete their accounts, but several users say they receive mail even after unsubscribing and/or cannot delete their accounts.

At the time of publication, neither Twoo nor Bogaert had responded to multiple requests for comment.

Image via.

Update: I should have included in the post that Twoo was acquired by Meetic, a European dating company the majority of which is owned by IAC, for $25 million in December 2012.

Since posting, SimilarWeb, a web ranking company similar to Alexa, reached out to me with data on the percentage of traffic that came to Twoo.com from email over the past 3 months:

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A quarter of Twoo’s traffic comes from email. Groupon and LinkedIn are both known for their email-heavy strategies, and they only receive 22% and 12% of their traffic, respectively, from email (again, according to SimilarWeb).