It was bound to happen.
With a little help from the programmers and usability gurus at Facebook, I spammed my friends, colleagues, business associates, people who’ve considered hiring Outsource Marketing, and everyone else in my Gmail address book that didn’t have a Facebook account yet.
I’m not talking about Facebook application developers making it next to impossible to use the application without inviting friends—Facebook banned that functionality last year after over a million people petitioned the social networking site to end the practice.
No, I’m talking about Facebook.
Since Facebook is growing quickly and I know a fair share of folks, I usually find several people I’m happy to see have recently joined. I select them and click okay.
Anyone that uses Facebook knows that that’s when the trouble starts.
Here’s the next screen you’ll see:
This screen shows all of the people in your address book that don’t have a Facebook account (or at least, they don’t have an account associated with that address).
The screen is similar to the previous one—the one listing the people that do have accounts. All the boxes are pre-checked for you. And the default button is blue, just like the previous form.
I’ve always called this the “Facebook Friend Spamming Tool” because if you aren’t really careful, that’s what you’ll do—spam all your friends that aren’t on Facebook.
I’ve seen this box at least a dozen times, and I always think to myself, “Good thing I was paying attention—I’d hate to hit that.”
Call me a fat-fingered dolt. Call me a dunce. Call me what you will. But I did this today.
I’m not sure who falls for it the most often: The folks that aren’t particularly comfortable with technology or the people that are highly proficient and move from screen to screen at a lightning fast pace.
Facebook wins, you lose
Facebook has surely benefited from this functionality. A lot of people signed up for Facebook after I erroneously sent that invite. Facebook wins.
While I’m happy some of my friends have joined, I’m certain I’ve pissed some folks off. In fact, I’ve already received a message from a person that has referred my firm work that explicitly asked me not to use her address when contacting her through a third party.
You could argue I win too because I’ve reconnected with some people in my address book. That’s only partially true—we would have found each other eventually when our address books meshed in the future.
What should Facebook do?
Should they eliminate this functionality? Uncheck the boxes by default? Add a confirmation message that you indeed want to invite everyone you know to join Facebook?
What’s most responsible?
I’d appreciate your comments.