Friday, October 08, 2010

Grouping Friends is a Good Idea....

But as far as implementation goes, this is a big "oops" for Facebook:
The problems started on Thursday, the day after Facebook revamped groups, giving users a way to compartmentalize their Facebook lives and post certain items to pre-designated groups of people. That's when technology blogger Michael Arrington, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis all found themselves added to a group called NAMBLA.
The response so far is inadequate:
A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed that group members can only add their friends to the group. "If you have a friend that is adding you to groups you do not want to belong to, or they are behaving in a way that bothers you, you can tell them to stop doing it, block them or remove them as a friend -- and they will no longer ever have the ability to add you to any group," she wrote in an e-mail. "If you don't trust someone to look out for you when making these types of decisions on the site, we'd suggest that you shouldn't be friends on Facebook."
Why do I say that? Because Facebook has become a tool for organizers, marketers, celebrities and politicians, many of whom "friend" anybody who asks. As is evidenced by the magnitude of the "friends" list of the people involved in this incident:
Arrington himself was added to the group by someone named Jon Fisher, one of Arrington's 4,824 Facebook friends. Fisher is also one of Calacanis's 4,740 friends.
The article highlights a few more examples of how the feature can be abused. Sure, there's something to only "friending" real friends, but a huge percentage of Facebook members prefer to have a high friends count than an accurate total. And if you're using Facebook in some of the ways that has gained it so much attention, such as by allowing politicians to "friend" pretty much anybody who asks, absent a fix you're going to see a rapid exodus of that class of user from Facebook.

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