The effort to exploit the most lucrative college student demographic backfired recently when a digital music downloading service got ahold of thousands of Facebook users' emails by falsely setting up their own group profile and luring students to join, reports eSchool News.
Ruckus Network of Herndon, Va., created its own group on Facebook by using a Georgia Tech email address. Georgia Tech had recently entered into an agreement with Ruckus for students to use its service on campus. Georgia Tech officials declined to comment.
The group called "If this group reaches 100,000 my girlfriend will have a threesome," had a ficticious person named "Brody Ruckus" who would reveal that he and his girlfriend "Holly" would ménage à trois if more than 100,000 people joined a group devoted to it.
Needless to say, it didn't take long for 100,000 Facebook users to join the group. "Brody Ruckus" then promised to post pictures of his sexual encounter to the Internet if 300,000 people joined. Then he promised to broadcast a video of the steamy encounter if 400,000 people, the largest group on Facebook, would join.
At that point, the account was deleted. It was soon discovered that "Brody Ruckus" was not a student at Georgia Tech, but a promotional gimmick invented by Ruckus Network to drum up support for its Ruckus music program, an online service targeted to college-age students.
A few days later, students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) received messages from Ruckus via Facebook. They read: "Beginning this week, UW has become a partner school with the online music service called Ruckus through our shared connection to the Internet2 network."
UW has no official relationship with Ruckus to provide free music on the net. But students weren't aware of that and download they did. As a result, UW's network bogged down.
Another under-handed tactic was to email letters to students saying, "If you are interested in supporting our cause, please do your part by emailing the housing departments [and] letting them know that you would like to have Ruckus partnered with UW."
"They denied sending both of the letters," said Robert Hayden, UW's IT operations manager for housing said of Ruckus. "They said they don't spam anybody." Ruckus has since admitted sending the email messages but claims they were isolated incidents by an overzealous employee.
"Basically they were blackmailing the university by having all the students advocate on their behalf," Hayden alleged. "In my opinion, they engaged in sleazy and unethical tactics in an effort to drum up business, and while it may have been very successful in that they got a lot of people subscribed, we're looking at our traffic patterns, and no one is using it now."