August 26, 2007
@ 11:10 PM

Over the last few months, there have been numerous articles by various bloggers and mainstream press speculating on whether use of Facebook will supplant email. I have also noticed that I use the private messaging feature in Facebook to keep in touch with more people, more often than I do with non-work related email.

I used to think that this was a welcome development from a user's point of view because spam is pretty much eliminated due to in-built white lists based on social networks. Or at least that's what I thought. However over the past few weeks I've been getting more and more unsolicited private messages on the site which aren't p3n1s enlargement or 419 scams but are still unsolicited. On taking a look at the privacy options, it turns out that there doesn't seem to be a way to opt out of being contacted by random people on the site. 

In fact, I'm surprised that regular spammers haven't yet flooded Facebook given how they seem to end up everywhere else you let people contact each other directly over the Web. One thing I find confusing is that I can swear that there was an option to opt out of messages from people who aren't on your friend's list or in one of your Networks. Or was this just my imagination?

The other kind of unsolicited mail that is totally wrecking my Facebook experience is unsolicited friend requests from Facebook applications. These aren't just regular friend requests. It seems that every application a user adds can make friend requests specific to the application. I'm getting friend requests from My Questions and Likeness on an almost daily basis with no way to permanently ignore friend requests from these applications.

I guess Clay Shirky's old saying is true, the definition of social software is stuff that gets spammed.


Sunday, August 26, 2007 11:45:26 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Hey Dare,
You can turn off messages from people who can't see your profile under the "search" section of the privacy page. Yes, this is kind of confusing, sorry about that :(.

As for the application requests, it's something we're definitely working on improving.
Monday, August 27, 2007 2:34:09 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
They really do need to allow you to ignore any application invites.

In addition to that, I think it's extremely poor form that most applications require you to install it to interact or simply just view data from that application.

I mean, come on, why does an application need to install itself before showing me data that my friend entered into it? I can see the need if its one of those applications that compares you to your friends, but to see where someone has traveled? Please...

Worse is any application that wants you to invite all your friends (with everyone checked by default), hiding the path to the actual reason you installed the app (To see what the friend has done with it). How can you decide whether an app is worth using before even having seen it in action properly?

What a pathetic user experience...Companies that do this (and think its a viable business model) are the next Bonzi Software.
Monday, August 27, 2007 2:46:51 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I'm still in disbelief that people so willingly put in extensive personal information on a site that is partly owned by people who work for the CIA. I guess someday not having a facebook account will be suspicious. What do you think of this Dare?
Terry Bollea
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