Don’t Let Social Software Become Spam Ware

It was claimed that 2004 was the Year of Social Software. Flickr, Del.icio.us and LinkedIn are all wonderful applications that became hot in the last year, UUZone in China also got the lead. Everything went on well.

Meanwhile, I am not sure if I am 100% comfortable about the emails sent out by some social software.

Here is one example:

“Can You Believe it?”

From : name of my friend <Name of my friend@invitation.sms.ac>

Sent : Thursday, February 3, 2005 5:21 AM

To : <My email address>

Subject : name of my friend (4th request)

Can you believe it — this is the fourth request to be in name of my friend‘s friend

network.

If this means that you do not care to be in name of my friend‘s mobile friend network, then just say so – and save both of you the hassle. It only takes a few seconds!

Just click here to confirm or reject your relationship with name of my friend

http://www.sms.ac/registration/Intro.aspx?InviteId= some random number

If you don’t want to be invited by your friends, just click on the link above and choose block future invitations from family and friends.

Well. They started the letter with “Can you believe it”. You know what, my immediate response was, can you believe it that after I deleted their emails for three times, they are still sending out the so-called invitation to me to ask me to accept, or reject. If I didn’t reply the previous three emails, are you smart enough to know that I am not interested in that? Do I have to open the email, navigate to your site and click reject so that I can get peace? You certainly know I don’t want to click reject and have them say “NO” to my closet friends. Do I have the right to keep silence?

I have about 20 mails from the this website in my inbox. For some friends, it is the 3rd or 4th invitation and for some, it was the 1st or 2nd… Well. I had about 10% of my inbox filled up of all kinds of invitation, some of which started with “Can you believe it”.

Where is My Right and My Privacy?

When more and more of my friends join all kinds of social software websites, my contact information was shared to more and more websites by my closest friends. They started to send out invitation to me to grow our THEIR network at the cost of MY time and MY privacy.

One member to their network means more than 20 people got spammed. The website may argue it is not Spam, because it was my friend who initiated the distribution of the email, not the site. Well. I accept the explaination. It was not Spam, but this does not help me to feel less annoyed of their letters.

Social Network! But Whose Network?

Social software started with the good intention to help people to manage their social networks and social relationships. With traditional methods, people will forget to say hi to friends at holidays. With the software, it can automatically remind you about the important days and the important friends. This is what the Social Software should do. I guess at this time, there is a good balance of what the software do and what human being do.

If the software goes one step further to send the “hi” letter to their friends automatically, even without the awareness of the sender, and worse, if the reception can automatically reply something like “thank you” without the reception’s action, I start to wonder whether it is the relationship of the two sites, the two program or the relationship of the two real person?

I Discourage New Social Software Websites

Remember the man in Manhattan who posted to hire a social software coordinator?

Future duties may include discouraging companies and individuals from starting new social networking sites so that additional staff won’t be necessary in the future

I have the same idea.

Conclusion

  • One person can run very nice blog, or personal website. This is why blog became so hot.
  • 20 persons can run very nice BBS. So BBS was popular.
  • 100 well-educated people with passion and ethical behavior can support a PUBLIC wiki site, so there are not as many famous Wiki site as blog sites, or BBS.
  • If a social network requires 10,000+ registered user before it becomes useful, you bet the result.

5 thoughts on “Don’t Let Social Software Become Spam Ware

  1. limin

    I have to agree. When these invitations or web sites first came to the scene in US a few years ago, I thought they were pretty cool. Unfortunately, it was just matter of time to turn this great idea to spam. Whenever you provide your email address online, it will eventually become a timed spam bomb. The initial purpose was good, but there is always someone trying to flip it. Maybe the website owner has the interntion to do it as well? I understand not long ago, the clicks/site visits/memberships were the determining factors for a startup to turn itself to a gold mine. Not anymore, it is all about revenues and profits for a web business… Look at how many junks I receive everyday? So I am basically stop signing up any mailing lists, unless that’s a reputable major institution. I’d rather to create my own contact lists on my PDAs or save that in my email box. Why we have to share the social network? Do I really know my friend’s friend just by sending an email?

  2. chengb02

    i’m getting a ton of things from that site, too, its very annoying. What is even more annoying are the people who send out the emails about keeping their phone books up to date so you need to go to a website and enter in so they have your phone number and stuff. If these people were really friends then they wouldn’t need me to go to a website and fill out this data for them, ugh!

  3. Kevin

    I had a long history with SMS.ac I used it back in 2001 and it was wonderful then. See, me and my then boyfriend were in a long distant relationship, so SMS from/to China/Germany every day by using SMS.ac was one way to save some communication cost.

    And in late 2002, SMS.ac was having a change in their website, and telephone number from China was not avaliabe to register, and send/receive SMS, so I stop using it.

    Up till last month, I suddenly receive emails (the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) from SMS.ac asking me to register from quite a number of my friends, and some of them are China Mobile users.

    I logged into SMS.ac to see if the service is open to China Mobile now. Nope, it wasn’t. I was having difficulties to activate my account.

    I wasn’t pleased to receive this kinda invitiation to a service I wouldn’t benefit from. I ended up setting my email filter to block all the emails from the domain.

    The similar case is hi5.com which I received quite some emails from them too.

    The only social network I use now is Friendster, but I seldom log into it anymore. There are more ads then it was first came up.

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