Report Newsle spam abuse to Amazon AWS (or whoever they are using for email now)

December 12, 2012

Newslie illegally spammed me and I assume is illegally spamming many others.

I received an email properly addressed to me as “To: Firstname Lastname <user@domain.com>” and clearly shown as “Newsle <invites@newslemail.com>” with a subject line: “Subject: Firstname – See news about Person 1, Person 2, Person 3, Person 4” where each person is the Facebook account name of someone that is a friend of mine.

Evidently Newslie has my name and email address, which they have successfully associated with my Facebook account, and they have obtained at least part of my list of friends in Facebook.

This is worrying:

  1. I never had any relationship with Newslie. This was the first I had heard of them. So I did not give them my email or permission to send me email. Hence the message was illegal spam.
  2. I never authorized Facebook to allow access to my account information in Facebook to Newslie or a 3rd part app that has any relationship with Newslie that I know of. And I have extremely restrictive privacy settings in Facebook.

Amazon SES is Newslie’s email service provider so the first thing I did was send an email:

To: abuse@amazonaws.com
Subject: Illegal spam from Amazon SES user
Message: The attached email was sent to an address owned by myself. I have no relationship with the sender (From: Newsle ) and I never gave this sender permission to send me email on this or any other address. The address must have been scraped off the web, or another online service or have been bought from a spam email list vendor. This behavior is illegal.

(With my .sig contact info.)

Next I wrote this blog.

Now I will have to find some other way to draw attention to Newslie’s unscrupulous and illegal activities.

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20 Responses to “Report Newsle spam abuse to Amazon AWS (or whoever they are using for email now)”

  1. ds said

    Your post here came up first on my Google search for “Newsli spam”. I just received the same Newsli spam message. At the bottom of the message it reads “This message was intended for Darren Stevenson. You’re receiving this because one of your friends invited you to join Newsle.” I reported as spam to AWS as well, thanks for the tip about them being an AWS customer.

  2. thefsb said

    You could link this blog in a comment on the Newsle Facebook page and see how long before they delete it.

    • ds said

      I just tried to post a comment on their FB page inquiring about the spamming, and the page rejected it. Maybe they are moderating? Not sure but my comment wouldn’t post to their page.

      • ds said

        I received a non-automated, personal response from staff person at Amazon AWS support. Says they are investigating it.

  3. Newsle Hater said

    I just got one of these Newsle spams. I sent it to the California Attorney General’s spam abuse reporting address:

    spam@uce.gov

  4. thefsb said

    Take a look at this: https://twitter.com/newsle/status/269464532315934720

    Newsle’s response to these complaints is: “Sorry about that. But if you got that email, a FB friend or LinkedIn contact opted to invite you.”

    This is the “service provider” argument and in this case it is bullshit. They are exploiting the precedent that a service provider has limited responsibility for the communications of its service’s users.

    Bullshit!

    The email is sent from Newsle , not from someone who knows me. It does not mention that it is being sent on anyone else’s behalf. I am therefore correct to claim that it is sent from Newsle to me. Since it is a commercial call to action and for the reasons set out in the original post, it is illegal spam.

    When Newsle entices people to voluntarily divulge names and addresses that they can use for spam, that doesn’t make the spam not spam.

  5. gypsydoctor said

    I received spam from Newsle and opted out. The next day, my wife received spam from them including my Facebook photo, Facebook photos of three other mutual friends, and the suggestion that one of us had invited them. This is outrageous

  6. J D said

    I also received an email from them now. Opted out, twittered about it, answered to the email and also wrote to Amazon.

    However, given that they are still spamming (beginning of March) and I see that this blog was written beginning of December I guess they are not changing their behaviour…?

    • thefsb said

      Your are probably right, J D.

      On the bright side, I don’t think newsle will be around for long, assuming their investors aren’t total idiots.

      OK, that’s a big assumption. I take it back.

  7. MZ said

    I just got one of these (I know at least one person who uses the service, but the message doesn’t even mention him or indicate that he invited me in any way). I did some digging and signed up for Newsle with a test account, not linking to Facebook or LinkedIn since I didn’t want it to spam my friends, and what I found was pretty alarming: http://imgur.com/IHe3fsd

    In short, a key step of their setup process is to request “permission” to spam every single one of your friends and contacts, without mentioning your name, and the default behavior is ENABLED! They’ve even deliberately de-emphasized the “continue without activating” option.

    I don’t think they can get friends’ email addresses from Facebook, so presumably the addresses are coming from LinkedIn? Either way, this is one of the more creepy, unethical, and obnoxious spam campaigns I’ve seen in a while, which makes it all the more sad that it’s coming from what looks like decent folks with an innovative product.

  8. MZ said

    p.s. the mail I got came through Mandrill, not Amazon SES.

    • thefsb said

      I wonder if our complaints to Amazon had anything to do with the switch.

      Did you complain to Mandrill?

      • MZ said

        As a matter of fact I did. But I got another email from Newsle today (same thing claiming an anonymous friend invited me). This one came through Critsend. Wonder if they are bouncing between email providers as people get upset?

        It’s really too bad to see an innovative and cool company resort to such spam tactics.

      • thefsb said

        Perhaps they are. Reports suggest they have been through Amazon, Mandrill, and now Critsend.

        Tbh, can’t say I give a toss about this outfit. Seems like a perfectly run-of-the-mill freeloading-on-other-people’s-content kinda startup trying to get rich quick. To me anyway.

  9. CC Aguilas said

    I am seriously concerned about this Newsle website. It looks like someone has gotten a lot of money to market and run some well funded pr campaigns for them. However, they are by far no original search engine. They got my picture, and all of my personal information from my facebook profile page, without my consent (even though my settings are set to Private). I’m not sure who to be more mad at right now, Facebook or Newsle. Newsle has posted articles that have nothing to do with my academic, professional, or personal life. These people are creepy. I checked them out on the California Secretary of State public records page, since that is where their company has their registered agent, but it says their jurisdiction is out of Delaware. Not sure where best to file a complaint or how. Fyi: I live and work in the Washington, DC area, wonder if this has anything to do with them…

  10. I just received one of these messages and I have never signed up for this service. I appreciate the information from everyone.

  11. Admin-c said

    Newsle is good about spamming people. Why they and their ISP believe that this is acceptable behavior is beyond me.

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