SPAM Lives In Social Media Too

“Please just delete the message if you do not want it”
-actual message from a Facebook spammer

The words Social Media tend to conjure up images of birds chirping, tweet-ups, keeping up with grandma,and perhaps happily drumming up more customers for your business. But let’s not forget the golden rule of communication on a mass-level: your message has to be wanted. It’s a bit confusing that while a ton of people are up in arms about the ever-changing Facebook privacy policy, I hear few people complaining about the easily-abused message system within Facebook.

Let’s say, I am a SPAMMER (most people will picture a brooding ominous figure ala Dr. Claw, but in this case let’s picture the SPAMMER as a well-meaning yet tasteless event marketer.) I create an event that I think is really cool and I want everyone to know about. I invite all of my friends, and perhaps encourage a few close friends to invite all of their friends as well. I then, very quickly, have 1000 or more people invited to my event. Here’s where the fun starts. I can now send ALL invitees a message, over and over again.

Is there a way to stop getting these messages? Sure, but its not as simple as just hitting UNSUBSCRIBE. You have to navigate to the event and remove yourself from the event manually. That doesn’t mean I can’t throw you back on the list whenever I want to.

What’s the lesson here? Well, nothing really. As long as there are popular forums for mass communication, there will always be those folks who choose to ignore permission-based marketing and abuse the system. But my prediction is that it is not the privacy policy, or the ever-present rumor that Facebook will someday charge a fee that will kill the popular sharing site. Rather it’s these tiny loopholes that allow marketers to easily abuse the system that will have people leaving in droves. People navigated away from Myspace because it was way too easy for bands and everyone else to SPAM them. It’s only a matter of time before Myspace’s spammers move aggressively to where the audience is.