Posted by on Feb 19, 2008 in Facebook, Social Media


I am now blocking all Facebook apps to which I am invited. The reason for this is that I was getting way more invites than I cared to deal with, most of which I was rejecting anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Facebook’s open platform, and still use many facebook apps on a daily basis. What I have a problem with is the amount of inviting that is going on.

The Problem

Too many applications seem to push users into inviting their friends in order to gain access to certain areas or to receive incentives. The problem with this is that too many people are inviting their friends to apps for the wrong reasons, just for bonuses. The real reason people should be inviting friends is because they genuinely want to share an app either because they think it is interesting or it would somehow benefit the friend being invited.

When Facebook first launched their open platform and the first apps began showing up, I tried to be selective in what application invites I sent out. I didn’t ever want my friends to feel like I was “spamming” them with invites. I only sent out invites because I thought a certain friend may enjoy a certain app. I believe many other people probably felt the same way, which I think is the way it should be. In the early days of Facebook applications I felt like each application invite was worth something. Nowadays, that is not the case. There is now so much noise that I almost felt forced to block out ALL invites, which is a shame because I am sure there are a few of those invites that maybe I would have accepted and enjoyed. There is just too much clutter, however, for me to justify the time and effort it would require to sift through all the crap invites I get, most of which were probably just sent out so someone could get an extra five armies, or gain access to an exclusive members area reserved for only the most diligent Facebook app invite spammers.

Who is to blame for this mess? Is it Facebook for allowing such a system to exist? Is it application developers for exploiting the system? or is it Facebook users themselves for being suckered into a manipulative invite system? Regardless of who is to blame I believe the system can be improved to the point where applications invites will mean something agian.

Solutions

There are many solutions to this problem, which I hope become a reality in the near future. First, even if the system were to stay the same, if there were more of a stigma attached to over-zealously inviting, people would at least think before inviting a ton of their friends to a given app. I hope to accomplish this to an extent, even if just among my own friends, through this blog post. If you are one of my Facebook friends please stop sending me app invites unless you know it is something in which I would be interested.

In order for a more widespread and permanent reduction of the app invite noise to take place, however, Facebook needs to make changes. They have taken a step in the right direction with their recent addition of the ignore all button. This only helps you get rid of all the invites currently listed in your account, though, it doesn’t actually decrease the amount of invites you will continue to receive. I would much rather just receive less invites(so I can actually look at them to see if any seem interesting) than have to click on the ignore all button every few days. Facebook’s goal should be to create an environment were users are only receiving invites to applications which they are actually interested in. I understand that isn’t completely possible but it should be the ideal to be aimed for.

A few ideas I have that if implemented may help reduce the invite noise are:

  • Prohibit application developers from forcing users to invite friends in order to gain full access to the application or view results.
  • Prohibit applications developers from offering incentives for inviting friends
  • Allow users to block app invites from particular friends
  • Place a limit on the total invites a user can send per day
  • Place a limit on the total invites a user can receive per day (allow users to adjust this number)
  • Combinations of the above, such as allowing users to place limits on the amount of invites they receive from particular friends.

Despite my frustration with the amount amount of app invite spam I receive, I am still a huge fan of Facebook. Ever since I joined Facebook a few years ago I have been telling friends that I like Facebook because they tend keep their site orderly and functional(as opposed to MySpace which looks like a mess and tends to have a lot of bugs), and they are always improving the site. I hope that the issue of the app invite noise will be remedied soon.

Update: It looks like Facebook has already been addressing the issues. I still think a lot more can be done, however.

One Comment

  1. 2-28-2008

    Wow long post.

    I can sense how pissed you are on these invites you received, and watching your video presentation, I think I was one of the facebook spammers over there. lol.

    Yeah I do agree, I just want those free bonuses when I sent those invites, but I just send an invite on one app per day. But later, I realized though that I have to stop spamming my friends, (and I just got bored sending invites), so I stopped sending.

    Anyways, I think you haven’t heard about the latest developments in Facebook. The Ignore All button is just one, but haven’t you heard about ‘Forced Invites’ are not allowed anymore? If ever you are using an App that forces you to send invites, you can report it now to Facebook.

    Facebook users can now rate the Apps they use, so we know which is really worth looking for.

    And you can block applications in Facebook requests page, there is a link below those big buttons. And you can edit the blocked Apps in privacy settings.

    http://www.facebook.com/privacy.php?view=platform&tab=all

    I hope these helps for those who doesn’t use Firefox.

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