MerchantCircle take over Bloglines and start spamming

Many years ago, I signed up for Bloglines. It’s a service which aggregates the feeds from various blogging sites, so you can read them in one place without having to do the rounds of your favourite sites looking for updates. (On LiveJournal, your friends page serves the same function, and you can add the feeds of external sites if you’re a paying customer).

I left Bloglines for Google Reader when Bloglines became unreliable. Google Reader is nice: it looks clean, and there’s an app for it for my Android phone. I recommend it over LiveJournal, which is dying of spam; and Bloglines, for the reasons I’ll now get into.

A while back, Bloglines was taken over by a company called MerchantCircle. They sent me an email to say they were the new owners, which is fair enough. As far as I remember, I hadn’t logged into Bloglines since I moved to the superior Google Reader service, so I just ignored it.

Yesterday I got an unsolicited bulk email (spam) from MerchantCircle advertising a service not related to Bloglines. Worse, the link they offered to unsubscribe from their mailing list didn’t work, as it required a login and password (first mistake: removal links from mailing lists should authenticate the user sufficiently to get off the list). Worse still, giving the email address to which MerchantCircle sent spam to the “forgot password” box gave an error saying that the address was not known: MerchchantCircle don’t even know who they’re spamming. Logging back into Bloglines doesn’t give an “unsubscribe” option either.

I consider Bloglines/MerchantCircle to have gone rogue. I’ve removed the “subscribe with Bloglines” buttons from my blog, and advise anyone else who still has those buttons to do the same. Use Google Reader instead: Google don’t spam.

Edited to add: MerchantCircle have emailed back to apologise, saying they had a “weird glitch” in their email system which caused some Bloglines users to get MerchantCircle emails. In recognition of this, I’m downgrading them from “rogue” to “incompetent”.

2 Comments on "MerchantCircle take over Bloglines and start spamming"

  1. Wasn’t too happy about the spam either but one slight correction. You do
    not have to log in to unsubscribe.

    If you go back to the page you will see there is a checkbox at the top of the page you are sent to. Check this box, leave everything else blank (bar your email address) and press submit. You are now unsubscribed.


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