When Social Networks Are Unsocial

Mary Hodder wrote a great post on Friday explaining the tricks that application makers in Facebook are using—and that Facebook isn’t doing anything about—to get you to forward spam and to sign up with new applications.

She explains in detail how one porn application uses these tricks. It’s well worth the read because it shows just how simple, but dishonest the maneuver is. (Careful, though she had made the illo very small, it is graphic).

Now, I think we all assume that one way or another, folks are going to try to do what they can to build up their numbers. But given that the schtick about social networking is that it’s about helping you keep in touch with the people in your life (business or social), is deceit what you expect?

The kicker is that, according to Hodder, neither Facebook or the app provider feels like there is anything they can do. Either because they have no control over the apps that people make to each other or because unless Facebook changes the rules, it’s uncompetitive for an application maker to clamp down.

“Think about that,” Hodder writes. “Your social networking / application software tricks you into doing something terribly socially embarrassing and you have to apologize? Wo. That’s really messed up. In other words, your social networking software / applications are, gasp, anti-social.”

I’m with Hodder. Though Facebook does make some changes to address these issues as they crop up, they don’t really seem to address them unless there is a hue and cry. That can’t be good business in the long run, especially in a social network that’s selling itself on respect for people’s online social lives.

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