Kickstarter’s Spam Problem

Kickstarter has been hugely successful and I love it. I’ve written about it at length before, and while the results of many of the projects I’ve supported have been less than stellar, the idea and the service are terrific and they fill a gap that has existed in the creative world for a long time.

Recently, however, spam has become a serious issue. At least once a week I receive an unsolicited request to fund a project. These messages are rarely offensive in and of themselves–they’re usually just information about the project and a paragraph or two of generic “please help us out” text–but they’re still spam. They’re usually sent to a blind carbon copy list, but occasionally someone will screw up and send it out via plain CC, exposing all the email addresses they’ve targeted.

On Monday, Jacob Pino of mavonOG sent spam to a huge list of folks, myself included, advertising his Kickstarter campaign. He didn’t BCC everyone, he included every email address in the CC field. He clearly sent multiple emails because the group I was in were all people whose names started with E-H. The email started:

Hey Family and Friends,

It’s back! Project MIA has been retouched and relaunched.

Please help build support for Maven OG’s Kickstarter project, ‘Project M[ade] I[n] A[merica]’. Maven OG is seeking to stimulate the American economy by having their revolutionary bamboo and organic cotton material manufactured right here in America.

Learn more about Project MIA and Maven OG by clicking on the photo below; forward this email to your close family and friends; and lets help make America, American made!

Hey, great! I must be this guy’s friend. Or a family member! So too must be all 37 other folks in this batch spam email. Angry but not surprised, I responded:

It’s not very polite to email people unsolicited in a non-BCC thread (especially people you do not know–I am not a family member or a friend). This means you’ve basically shared my email address (via spam) to a bunch of other people. Please remove me from your list, and please be more considerate in the future.

This isn’t a new thing with Kickstarter, but usually the spammer has the decency to hide the email list. I was annoyed but I flagged the original message as spam and let it go. That is, until 20 minutes later when I received this amazing pile of bullshit from mavenOG:

My sincerest apologies to all of those that were contacted without discretion regarding our Kickstarter project. Apparently our account has been hacked and our project used to promote a Kickstarter spam list that has been floating around. Again please accept my deepest apology and know our team is working diligently to resolve the issue.

Seriously? Am I meant to believe your account got hacked and the hackers used it to promote your Kickstarter campaign? What a joke.

This is a growing problem: When you back a Kickstarter project you’re giving the creators your personal information and some of them are clearly selling it. Kickstarter needs to figure out a way to stop this from happening soon, and they need to punish any creators who resort to it by removing them and their project from the service immediately.


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