Social network Path appeals to people who want more privacy, but now users are complaining that the app is spamming their address book contacts with unsolicited texts that invite them to join the network.
Digital marketing strategist and blogger Steven Kenwright signed up for Path on Monday evening and woke up Tuesday morning to texts from friends and family members asking about the photos he wanted to share with them on Path.
Kenwright says he uninstalled the app on his Android device, yet his contacts kept receiving texts inviting them to view his photos on the app. Except Kenwright didn't have any photos uploaded.
A Twitter search turns up dozens of tweets ranging from, "Wtf is path and why do I keep getting these texts about it" to "If you guys got a text from me about this path stuff.. I didn't mean to send it to you. My iPod sent it to everyone in my contacts."
Some Twitter users assumed their phones were hacked.
But a Path spokesman says the complaints are a result of user error. When you sign up for Path, the app's invitation screen (seen at right) lets you unselect friends you don't want to invite to Path as a default, rather than select the contacts you do want to invite.
Nate Johnson, Path's vice president of marketing, says most people figure out the select/unselect process and the network has "no plans at this point" to change the invitation screen.
The current invitation screen, rolled out on Path 3.0 in March, was the network's attempt to help people get their friends and family to use the network.
Johnson says the app is most useful when users are connected to at least eight people. Until Tuesday, the three-year-old social network hadn't heard any significant complaints or confusion about the invitation screen.
Kenwright also spoke with Johnson and updated his blog post to reflect the conversation. Kenwright wrote that he's "pretty sure" he didn't allow Path to send messages to his contacts.
This isn't the first time the social network has been accused of overstepping privacy bounds. The company last year apologized to users for mining their address books and enabled opt-in and opt-out modes for sharing contacts with the app. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission in February fined Path $800,000 for violating user privacy.
But Path is still growing at a rapid clip, announcing this week that it has reached a milestone 10 million users. According to the Wall Street Journal, the network is adding 1 million users a week.