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‘Stalky AF’: Amazon to let people send gifts with just an email address or phone number

'I wasn't even trying and I thought of three ways to horribly abuse this in less than a minute.'

 

Claire Goforth

Tech

Published Oct 4, 2021   Updated Oct 13, 2021, 1:17 pm CDT

Amazon announced a new feature that allows Prime members to send items without having the recipient’s mailing address. All they need is their email address or phone number.

The gift-giver must have a Prime account, but the recipient need only have a basic Amazon account, the Verge reports. If they don’t have an account, they’re prompted to create one. Recipients can also check to see what’s being sent before they accept it. If they accept, they can elect to receive an Amazon gift card in lieu of the item. The sender isn’t notified if they choose this option.

The sender doesn’t receive the recipient’s physical address.

Nevertheless, the new feature is already giving people creepy vibes. The Verge noted, “…[T]his sounds like a bad idea that is ripe for abuse by scammers, stalkers, and those who take pleasure in the online harassment of others.”

Arielle Duhaime-Ross of Vice News noted that people can’t opt-out. “Umm wtf NOPE,” Duhaime-Ross also tweeted. “This is bad bad.”

Others had similar reactions.

“As a woman, this isn’t terrifying at all,” a Twitter user commented sarcastically. Another shared that they were stalked in college. Their stalker, they wrote, eventually got their home address from someone they both knew and proceeded to bombard them with unwanted gifts and correspondence.

“Maybe it’s because I’ve been stalked and had my privacy violated by someone in a position of trust, but I see so many ways this could go wrong and provide opportunities for bad actors to continue or escalate abusive behavior,” they tweeted.

Amazon has said it plans to roll out the new Prime feature in the coming weeks. The service is limited to the continental United States and can only be used on mobile devices.

An Amazon spokesperson told the Daily Dot via email that the Verge story is “causing some confusion.” They stressed that gifts are only sent when recipients accept them, and that they do expire or can be deleted at any time. “But any activity that violates our community guidelines (which includes sending unwanted gifts) would be reviewed and the account acted on, if necessary,” they added.

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*First Published: Oct 4, 2021, 12:42 pm CDT