March 31, 2020

How Fake Friends Kill Social Networks

The other day I ran into an old classmate from high school. It was a person I never really talked to before (in fact, I didn’t remember her name until she introduced herself.) We said hello, and continued on our way. That night when I got home, I had a MySpace request from that person. I ignored it. In fact, I get friend requests from tons of people that I barely know. Old classmates, people at the bar, friends of friends, and random strangers who just want to see my photos. I don’t approve any of them.

That doesn’t even cover the people who think the friend count is a contest and add as many people as possible just so they can say they’re more popular.

When I first made accounts on social networks I made one rule: If I wouldn’t invite you to a house party, you don’t get put on my friends list. See, when it said “friends” I took it to mean “friends” – not “anybody.”

This doesn’t sit well with many people. Some people actually get offended when you won’t add them as a friend. I fail to understand that.

You’re probably asking “what’s the big deal? Just add them and you won’t have to listen to them bitch.” But that right there is the problem with social networks. Once your friend list gets deluded, the service loses its value. Let me explain.

When you first sign up, it’s you and your actual friends. You post bulletins with inside jokes and humor at others expense. You post pictures of the party you went to last weekend, and you just basically let yourself be yourself. You can be the person everybody sees on Friday night. Everything is cool.

Then, you start adding “friends.” Your mom, your boss, the neighbor’s kid, your cousin’s kid, a few bands, some local businesses that you go to, and all the guys from work. Now, all of a sudden you’ve got a problem.

You can’t have your boss seeing the picture of you drinking out of a bottle of Makers Mark with a straw, and you need to hide those party pictures from mom. You know the ones I’m talking about.

You can’t blog about the prank you pulled at work anymore, or about how little you actually do in the office, or about the 700 Bic pens you took out of there last week because the guys from work now read it.

In a matter of weeks your social network has turned into a business card. It’s boring and bland, and not you anymore.

And that’s why people move social networks. It started with Friendster, moved to Myspace, and now it’s on Facebook. It’s an eventual cycle that really has no end.

Will some other social network come in and be #1? You can count on it – especially if your mom doesn’t have a profile there yet.

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About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com

Comments

  1. Hello There One with the Privacy Problem..

    You probably have switched to facebook right now, thay would be the worst move you could make, there is no such thing as privacy on the internet and anyone can see photos and see your messages at any given time, there are websites dedicated for just that.. also SOCIAL NETWORKING – in facebook there are many applications that people use to connect to the same person more than once, and even you block them from seeing your account they can still message you etc…

    Before siging up to these “Free Services” – read the agreement —

    In canada Facebook breaks 22 privacy laws..

    Facebook privacy
    Editorial

    National Post
    Published: Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    Canadians love Facebook. Over seven million of us have created profiles on the popular social networking site. But according to four summer law interns at the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPC), Facebook is not the free ride some might assume.

    In a complaint filed with Federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, law students accuse Facebook of 22 violations of Canadian privacy laws.

    To oversimplify, CIPPC sees Facebook as a personal information weigh-station connecting your bio to paying advertisers. This is true to an extent. While Facebook’s set-up does allow you to opt out of most information sharing, its design coaxes users to make their information available to a wide network of people.

    CIPPC’s key complaint is that Facebook requires users to go to some lengths to opt out of providing personal information. The default setting gives Facebook consent to do what it wishes with user information — an alleged violation of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

    And despite the variety of privacy settings available to Facebook users, it turns out they can’t actually control who sees their profile information — certain loopholes regarding third-party applications mean that users are left at the mercy of their online friends’ privacy settings. Facebook has noted that almost all their data is “willingly shared by users,” but the social networking site needs to be more forthright about what they are using this data for. Many users are not aware that their information is being sold to advertisers. That should change. Facebook must be more forthcoming and make it easier for users to opt out of information sharing.

    At the same time, nothing is free in this life and Facebook provides a service Canadians clearly want and enjoy. It offers users a service and shares information with advertisers that can hardly be considered confidential. CIPCC may have a bone to pick with Facebook, and involving the privacy commissioner certainly garnered headlines for the complainants. But sharing personal information gladly given to friends is not a high price to pay for a service that millions of Canadians have made part of their daily lives.

    So now your a bit more informed – social networking such as Facebook, and myspace and even your msn that you have been using since the 6th grade are not safe for anyone….