I have very mixed feelings about Facebook. As with most statements like this, the mixture is much more biased towards the negative.
What I like about it is that way that it genuinely brings people together and engenders a feeling of fun. Sadly, commercial drive is never far away and the large crowds logging on to Facebook are increasingly open to the snares of less scrupulous companies.
What is so clever is the way they get Facebook members themselves to apply the pressure to load applications. I receive an email saying that someone has sent me a message. "Oh!" think I "How nice that someone would send me a message."
I click the link.
Up comes a box inviting me to give the application access to all my data. Mmm...don't like the sound of that at all.
I uncheck a few boxes. I start to feel uneasy.
Next up, a list of all my Facebook friends. I have to send this "App" to 20 other people it says, before I can see my message. I comply, trying to pick people who may be least annoyed by it. Finally I get my message - it's a mass mailing to, you guessed it, 20 friends saying simply (pre written by the App itself) "Hey there! This new App is really cool!" It is accompanied by a picture of a pink teddy bear.
I have been had. I feel dirty. I have been sucked into the viral activity of Facebook. No wonder there are not many new viruses - we don't need them, we have Facebook.
We no long email - we get emails from Facebook telling us to log onto Facebook to get our emails there. Ughh.
We no longer write our own messages, they are pre written for us. Ughh.
Everything is multi-choice, not just open text entry. Facebook actually writes itself and passes it off as our work. Double Ughh.
I realised the depth of my despair when someone told me they didn't need their bog anymore, they used Facebook instead. I suppose it's a way of having some kind of personalised page on the internet - without the need for any considered original content.
A couple of final things (I have had to pick and choose lest this entry be too long)
Look at this grab from Facebook:
I had just spent a while doing an IQ test, sent to me by a few people on Facebook. I quite like IQ tests, so, against my better judgement I gave it a go. Taking the test was a breeze. Enjoyable, even.
Afterwards I hit this screen. I have to invite 20 friends to try this BEFORE I can see my results. I don't even have 20 friends on Facebook, so I never stood even a chance of seeing the fruits of my labours. Since the "App" could access my user data, it knew this - yet i still let m carry on.
Assuming I had the requisite 20 friends, I would be required - pressurised to send an invitation to load the app to them - thus placing them in the same difficult position. Each person breeds 20 more contacts. 20 more lots of data gathered - 20 more lots of adverts seen by using this "App" - 20 more little bits of money for them.
Two more points to note about the screen grab:
a) The "cancel" button did not work. i was locked onto the screen.
b) The advert for a "Free" iPhone is made to look exactly like a Facebook "Continue" button. The fact that they allow such dishonest advertising - so that the fake advert is bigger than the actual Facebook part - says a lot about the way Facebook is run and how much they care.
Saddest of all is that there is much that is good about Facebook, but that the greed is overtaking the good and soon what little good that remains will be squeezed out by the greedy sleaze-merchants. Sadly, I do believe that this includes Facebook themselves.
Come on Facebook, clean up your act NOW.
1) Make all invitations completely free to opt in or out as desired.
2) Ban advertising that emulates official buttons of the site.
3) Stop acting like a computer virus - people will not be fooled forever.