Your network is your filter and Facebook invite spam

Fred Wilson recently posted about The Facebook Problem:

Invite overload and application noise. I cannot keep track of all the
invites I am getting, both the standard invites and the application
invites. And what’s worse, I can’t keep track of all the applications
that all of my friends are using.

I get that – I am suffering a bit too. The signal to noise ratio is getting out of whack. As a result a lot of people are saying that they would rather see a return to the old, simpler, cleaner Facebook.

I’m not so sure that is the right answer.

Noise is good. It contains information. The problem is that the tools Facebook provides to manage it are a bit primitive. My vision of where this all goes is that hoary old chestnut “your network is your filter”. For that to work my network has to be generating a lot of noise. I just need tools that let me tune into the stuff that interests me and tune out the rest.

For example – I might only want favourite film updates only from my film buff friends, status updates only from close friends and colleagues I am working with a lot right now, application invites only from my geek mates etc. etc.

Facebook has taken the first steps towards this. They have implemented sliders which allow you to ratchet up or down the amount of chatter you see across different categories like events, groups, friends, wall posts etc. and they also have the facility to nominate up to 20 people you want to hear more noise from and 20 you want to hear less noise from.

Unfortunately these tools are too crude. Ideally you need to be able to say for each friend how much noise you want to hear across a range of different topics. You will also want to be able to easily change these settings. This is just a question of iterating the application though and if I am right about this and the Facebook guys are smart (which they are, very) then they will get there.

Interestingly Microsoft have shown they grasp this concept more clearly than anyone else (at least that I have seen). Shame they are struggling to build social networking services that people want to use.

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  • What you are asking for is micro collaborative filtering. I made a post about it following some insghts from sarahpcr (Dev @ Yahoo ).
    http://ulik.typepad.com/leafar/2007/05/collaborative_m.html

    I’ve just discovered the preferences for the facebook minifeed it’s actually very good. I am testing it. Rating people and tagging them would be very good too.

    Enjoy the essential Web

  • What you are asking for is micro collaborative filtering. I made a post about it following some insghts from sarahpcr (Dev @ Yahoo ).
    http://ulik.typepad.com/leafar/2007/05/collaborative_m.html

    I’ve just discovered the preferences for the facebook minifeed it’s actually very good. I am testing it. Rating people and tagging them would be very good too.

    Enjoy the essential Web

  • Dear facebook,

    I have discovered several severe holes in the site that should have been caught by
    Quality Assurance, but somehow have slipped through and remain on the site.
    These are not security holes, but holes that are liable to
    slowly erode the face of facebook and dissolve confidence in the product by
    many members and most hurtful, non-members.

    In the invite feature of fb, I accidentally accepted the fb
    feature to invite every single person that I have every emailed, CCed, or BCed
    in my entire life from Gmail. (hmm, a warning message would have been nice,
    once clicked, surely I would not have wanted to do that.)
    Once clicked, I immediately realized my mistake. After the initial
    embarrassment of inviting my whole world, I got over it as “oh well, my
    mistake.”
    However, no daily email spam is sent out to these contacts, harassing
    that they join! Many unpleasant folks have contacted me and are very irritated
    at me and fb!

    I found a way in fb to remove all of these accidental
    invites, but it conveniently doesn't seem to work correctly.
    The following process/path I used and the error that I was
    confronted with:
    facebook > friends > invite friends > View all
    invitations > Select: Not Yet Joined
    :: Popup Delete Entries? “Are you sure you want to delete these 100
    entries from your Invitation History?” Delete

    Oops!
    “Something went wrong. We're working on getting this
    fixed as soon as we can. You may be able to try again.” OK

    Could somebody else or a team of people, try hard to
    improve this site with very simple enhancements?

    Update: fb requires you delete these invites one by one. Deleted.
    However, here it is a week later and the weekly fb spam has been sent
    out to all of the formerly invited contacts again!!! What a joke!
    Horrible business practice!!

  • Dear facebook,

    I have discovered several severe holes in the site that should have been caught by
    Quality Assurance, but somehow have slipped through and remain on the site.
    These are not security holes, but holes that are liable to
    slowly erode the face of facebook and dissolve confidence in the product by
    many members and most hurtful, non-members.

    In the invite feature of fb, I accidentally accepted the fb
    feature to invite every single person that I have every emailed, CCed, or BCed
    in my entire life from Gmail. (hmm, a warning message would have been nice,
    once clicked, surely I would not have wanted to do that.)
    Once clicked, I immediately realized my mistake. After the initial
    embarrassment of inviting my whole world, I got over it as “oh well, my
    mistake.”
    However, no daily email spam is sent out to these contacts, harassing
    that they join! Many unpleasant folks have contacted me and are very irritated
    at me and fb!

    I found a way in fb to remove all of these accidental
    invites, but it conveniently doesn't seem to work correctly.
    The following process/path I used and the error that I was
    confronted with:
    facebook > friends > invite friends > View all
    invitations > Select: Not Yet Joined
    :: Popup Delete Entries? “Are you sure you want to delete these 100
    entries from your Invitation History?” Delete

    Oops!
    “Something went wrong. We're working on getting this
    fixed as soon as we can. You may be able to try again.” OK

    Could somebody else or a team of people, try hard to
    improve this site with very simple enhancements?

    Update: fb requires you delete these invites one by one. Deleted.
    However, here it is a week later and the weekly fb spam has been sent
    out to all of the formerly invited contacts again!!! What a joke!
    Horrible business practice!!