A new Facebook Connect application has spread quickly around the Facebook social graph by tagging all of a user’s friends who have the same zodiac sign. This is the latest in a series of new photo tagging applications which have been spreading like wildfire across the site. The Facebook platform lets users easily tag their friends but by prompting users for unrestricted posting and unrestricted photo upload permissions, the application is able to spread like crazy. It leads me to wonder whether Facebook will begin cracking down on these types of apps.
The way Facebook’s new permissions system is that users must specifically grant permission to applications to make any extended actions on behalf of the user. The issue with this application is that it then takes advantage of those users who granted them permission to spam all their friends. Don’t want to approve the application for its permissions? That’s fine! This “friendly” application will then send you to a page within Facebook which is filled with aggressive IQ quiz ads.
This aggressive application has successfully grown to over 8.4 million users. While most users don’t realize that the application is spamming the profiles of all their friends, it’s clear that the application has reached critical mass. A large percentage of my friends have now been tagged in photos by friends they don’t event have strong ties to. This form of growth through loose connections makes me think the Friend.ly application has crossed a line.
Has the application violated Facebook’s terms of service? As far as I know they haven’t but it’s clear that the photo tagging feature is the new way to quickly attract millions of users. Friend.ly isn’t the only application to aggressively tag users. Earlier this week I wrote about the All my Friends! application creating large amounts of spam. There’s now another application called Friends Character which is using a similar strategy and now has over 2.5 million monthly active users.
While the basic idea behind the applications are clever, this automated form of tagging ends up generating a lot of noise which degrades the overall Facebook user’s experience. Clearly this is just my opinion though and millions of users appear to be thoroughly enjoying some of these apps. The friend.ly app for instance has be rated 3.8 out of 5 stars although that appears to be dropping quickly.
Just today, numerous users have rated the application 1 out of 5 stars due to it tagging friends in photos without a user’s explicit permission. My guess is that Facebook will begin cutting down on these applications quickly but not before millions of users are touched or “tagged” by them.