Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Facebook Follies

Arrrgh! Over on my personal Facebook account, Facebook's automatic spam catcher has banned me from sending private messages. It's infuriating because I'm adamant about MusicbizAdvice.com staffers adhering to CAN-SPAM Act rules, and neither we, nor I, engage in it.

I also don't use Facebook's Friend Find function, nor do I contact random Friends of Friends that Facebook recommends. (Maybe Facebook is pissed off that I don't?) In my opinion, and according to my understanding of the CAN-SPAM Act, THAT would be spam. And, as those of you on my Facebook Friends lists know, I rarely send Facebook messages or event notices, choosing to keep in touch with Facebook Friends by using the Wall / update function instead.

Here's how it happened, so it doesn't happen to you:

The supreme irony is, the Friend requesters contacted me first, not the other way around...

So, rather than just rudely ignoring people, I responded to the Friend requests from people I didn't know by using the "send message" option to ask them to please join me at my business Facebook instead, "as this one is my personal account" and included a link to my business Facebook (the facebook.com/MusicBizAdvice account). I've been doing it this way over on MySpace for years with no problem, and it's led to a lot of great conversation and a few actual working relationships and friendships...which is how social networking was originally supposed to work, right?

I sent 10-12 of these responses today, with a total of a mere 25 since opening my personal account in June. (Facebookers usually find me via my /MusicBizAdvice account, so there's really not much message traffic from my personal account.)

In sending the responses, I was afraid of accidentally triggering the anti spam filter, so I made a point of changing the wording and personalizing each one. I manually entered the captchas properly. Facebook gave me a popup warning telling me to "slow down". So I did. Then Facebook banned me from messages anyway.

(Sidebar: Facebook was the first entity ever to accuse me of being a fast typist, by the way. I'm a decent writer, occasionally even a good one, but a lousy typist. Our staffers and my former employers will have a good laugh at that.)

Simple solution: If Facebook offered a "Confirm friend to other account instead" option in its Friend acceptance options, and allowed the Friend requester to check a box that opted them in to being transferred over, this wouldn't happen.

That way, people could leave their privacy settings open just enough that their actual friends and relatives can find them, thus ENcouraging use of Facebook, rather than DIScouraging it.

Another irony: Over time, for direct communication, I've been gradually using Twitter more and more. (Why send a "message" when you can talk with someone directly, at a faster pace?) At this rate--first Facebook's privacy issues, then Facebook's content ownership / licensing issues, etc.--my Facebook accounts are rapidly headed toward being used simply to garner search engine results, with very little actual one-on-one conversation (kind of like MySpace has become)...which is the very thing Facebook was trying to avoid when it was created.

That doesn't seem fair to those of my family, friends, colleagues, and readers, who do enjoy using Facebook. Who wants to be used? But even more than that, it's not fair to the whole concept of social networking.

Get it together, Facebook.