FaceBook recently made news by starting to delete the user accounts of people who had joined solely for the purpose of playing a game called PackRat. Many are giving FaceBook kudos for deleting the accounts because of the spammy nature of the game, while others are condemning FaceBook for trying to dictate not only how people use its service (as evidenced by the recent forced ‘upgrade’ to the new design) but why they join in the first place.
Since FaceBook has given us a way to ignore all requests from any given application and a way to block applications, the first part of the equation doesn’t interest me at all. FaceBook users who think an application is spammy need only click “Ignore” to never see that application again, from anyone (trust me, after getting eleventybajillion Little Green Tree and Werewolf requests, I wanted to kiss FaceBook’s feet when that button came about).
What really grabs me is the second part of the equation. How much a site can and should dictate how new users find it, how they use it, and why they join in the first place has my undivided attention. Do I think PackRat is a spamaliscious application? Absolutely. Do I think there are more spammy application and (shudder) app-vertisements in our future? You know it. Do I think sites like FaceBook should ban people who join to play one of the games like this that could be considered spam by someone who isn’t into it? No, absolutely not.
I know that it isn’t the popular stance to take, but even on sites like Twitter I think that it isn’t why someone signs up that should be penalized. I think in the end the better thing to monitor is contribution. If the person signed on to play a game, and they “friend” other people who like to play the same game – that’s fine. That’s their community. Social media is about building your own community, after all.
Now, if they were trying to friend a ton of people and send them advertisements or other spam, I could see taking action. Twitter has a bit of an issue with spammers who have out of whack follower to following ratios and leave trojan-riddled links and such on their Twitter pages. I don’t want Twitter to block people for me, but when they see these spammers who are so obvious about abusing the system it is nice when they remove them. FaceBook should have similar criteria.
What do you think? Should the users of social network like FaceBook be able to dictate the kind of community they build, or should FaceBook?