Permission Spamming for Friends

The Thoughtpolice PledgeMy friend John Haydon posted an interesting status update on his Facebook profile. Short and simple, it said: “Dear Facebook user. Please don’t tag me in a photo or video unless I’m actually in the photo or video. Thanks.

And it stopped and made me think – are we now offering permission spamming for friends on social networks?

The minute we sign up for a service like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, we offer our details so we can find our existing friends or online connections, and hook up with them on our new network too.

The service we sign up for assures us that our details are safe and they won’t use or give them to third-party marketing and advertising services.

Yet it doesn’t really include that same option for friends.

That then leads to a whole slew of tags or similar on Facebook (just as John mentions) that have nothing to do with us, apart from our connection to that person.

Or there’s the Direct Message on Twitter where latest blog posts are pimped, or services shilled (though to be honest, I’m pretty fortunate in the connections I have on Twitter that they only DM me great stuff that I’d want to know about anyway).

The same goes for LinkedIn, where bulk and copy/paste messages are sent out promoting a service or product that, more often than not, holds no real interest for the person it’s been sent to. There’s also video responses on YouTube and even spam coming through on the likes of Skype and BlackBerry Messenger.

Of course, a lot can be put down to the networks not making it clear to the user that just by using a certain service, friends can be spammed (or the equivalent of unwanted messages).

Take the Facebook Like option, for example. If you like my Facebook Page, then (from what I’ve been reading) any updates on my page could appear on your wall, unless you (or I) have amended our settings so that doesn’t happen.

Now, I don’t want to spam you just as much as you don’t want to be spammed, and it’s certainly not deliberate. But Facebook makes this almost mandatory, which then pisses you off and makes my page offer less value, when I want it to be the complete opposite.

And therein lies the problem with all this new “social” approach, whether it’s networking or media. To be social, we have to open up certain doors.

But what happens when these doors turn our friends into spammers? And how do we differentiate the unwanted spam from the unaware spam? Thoughts?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Adam UXB Smith

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