Spamming your friends on Facebook

by Volker Weber

spamming facebook apps

Most people are not aware that certain facebook applications spam all their friends. My Questions is one of them. When you install the application and set up a new poll, then My Questions send a request to all your friends to answer. However,in order to answer the question, they first have to install the same application. If your friends then start to post questions, you get spammed back.

I have decided to kick all application with this behaviour.

PS: Rocky and Chris, you just happen to have posted two questions. I am not annoyed by you.


I might be wrong here (and don't want to send out a random question just to test it), but I think with most of these applications you can actually select who you want to send the question/test/whatever to.

You can send it to all your friends or just to selected ones. In other words it depends at least to an extent on the user of the application.

Armin Grewe, 2007-08-25

That may very well be the case. What puzzles me though is that I have to install the application if I just want to answer a question. And this is common for all those "your friend has ..." type application.

Volker Weber, 2007-08-25


I just smacked down Gayle for this as she is a Facebook junkie. She liked it :-)

Bruce Elgort, 2007-08-25

Yeah, this "pyramid scheme" Facebook app behavior is pretty annoying. Just because I want to answer a quiz or question someone sent me, that doesn't mean I want to sign up for the app in general. I still like Facebook itself quite a bit, but I'm beginning to lose patience with some of the apps.

Rob McDonagh, 2007-08-25

Agreed spamming = bad. Thankfully it is easy to fix. On the right hand side click on notifications. Then again on the right you will see "Show notifications from..." where you can deselect any/all applications.

Alan Lepofsky, 2007-08-25

Well, I have to admit - I did send this out to everyone but a select few in my "friends" list... but for good reason. I excluded those individuals not in the industry - my wife and a few customers that have connected to me through Facebook are the exceptions to the list.

If you look at the questions from both Rocky and myself, they weren't "What's your favorite drink?" or any of the silly, "Hello World"-type questions - they were (IMHO) questions that were "OK" to ask through that medium - it's a community networking site after all:

Rocky asked "What is your biggest NOTES pet peeve? For me, it is people who use Return Receipts..."

And I asked "What is your biggest complaint about the Lotus Notes/Domino online community?"

I know that I've been called out before here, so to speak, but I took it as an opportunity to get the opinion on what the best solution. Today's comment I can also take as you informing the masses of the dangers of Facebook spam... but I have to wonder:

You know my contact information. (And I'm certain you know Rocky's contact information.) This post and the one I linked to above could have been addressed via person-to-person conversations instead of fodder for your "not a blog".

Maybe I'm just reading this wrong. Maybe I'm just cranky from a long day at the office. If I am, sorry gang...

Chris Toohey, 2007-08-25

Eventually you'll all come around to my way of thinking. I killed my facebook acount in less than 24 hours. Its worse constant chatter than freaking twitter. ugh.

Andrew Pollack, 2007-08-25

Oh and by the way, Chris, Did you notice that Volker's post specifically said he was generalizing using your post since it happened to be available for a screenshot and not particularly frustrated with you?

Andrew Pollack, 2007-08-25


Oh I hear ya, and I read that too from Volker's post (not explicitly saying that, but I got the gist of it)... but like I said, 1) it's a social networking site and 2) it's not like I was asking "What is your favorite band?" - both of these questions could be seen as topical:

An IBMer and well-known community member reaching out to that community looking for their #1 annoyance with a product that has both gone through yet another major release in the past 2 weeks and something that you know - given it being Rocky - he can always field back to the people-in-the-know at his "dayjob". Yeah, it's about as informal as it gets, and I doubt that he's going to take the more comical posts as anything more than how they were intended... but you get the idea.

And mine... after seeing the back-and-forth between members of this online community and whatnot - I asked what everyone's biggest complaint about said community was... like any relationship, I think communication is key.

I get Volker - it's stupid that I have to install the My Questions app in Facebook just to see/respond to a question.

I wanted to use the tool however to communicate with everyone in my friends list - to get their feedback on a topic that I thought would lead to more open communication. Maybe good blog fodder for the community if it evolved to that - who knows!

I'll just be more careful about who I send such notifications out to in the future.

Chris Toohey, 2007-08-25

I followed Alan's lead the day I install any of the apps. No notices except for friend requests get sent to me in email. Everything else waits till I decide to log in.

Lotus Connections doesn't even seem to have a notification method at all by default

Chris Miller, 2007-08-25

Chris, I am not complaining at all about receiving a message from you. That is why I specifically wrote the last sentence.

What I do find annoying is the applications itself which try to push everyone in your network to install them.

Andrew, I read your resignation from Facebook on your site. But you are my litmus test. If something is hot, you usually say it is not. :-)

Volker Weber, 2007-08-25


I'm really not taking it personal - seriously, I think I'd have to do a LOT more than that to get you really mad at me ;-) - and I totally understand what you're saying: at one point, I was getting emails, RSS fed pop-ups from FeedReader, and the numbered notifications when I'd login. It's way too much, but it can be trimmed back to allow those notifications to still be effective... which is something that I still have yet to do myself.

Chris Toohey, 2007-08-25

Yeh - I found this pretty annoying. You sign up for the app because someone asked you a question. Then you find out that the app "questions" has spammed your "friends" (as per your title post).

I was pretty bemused when "I" was getting messages saying "x" has answered your question, that you did not ask (and a lame question at that which had been asked by another million or so people)!

How far will this go - the questions could get personal :)

I love facebook, but this sort of thing could ruin it and dilute the quality. Its also a "Identify Theft" gold mine with people's names, date of birth, photo and other details they choose to post.

In addition, what do you do when your work "superiors" add you as friends? Not every "friend" thinks about what they post, your boss gets to see it all once they are your friend. (So one friend thinks its harmless fun, you think its fun but best kept between friends and not facebook, your boss thinks not - especially the photo you have been tagged on that shows you in not such a professional by day light - bye!).

Steve Castledine, 2007-08-25

I meant to add - I worry about today's teenagers and the web/facebook (that makes me sound old). Right now what they are posting is very funny to them. In ten years - who knows if it will haunt them?

The web will, i'm sure, be taken more seriously than cv's in some cases.

Steve Castledine, 2007-08-25

VERY good point Steve. On a related point, I worry that people start to keep in touch via the se sites, and no other medium. I hate to sound like a cranky old man, but I still think it’s nice to, you know, MEET UP with your friends, go out with them, talk face-to-face, that kind of thing... :)

Ben Poole, 2007-08-25

Volker, you and I have definitely got some different tastes for these things. I think given that I'm the only human left on the planet willing to admit that I just don't care for the feel of using the Mac OS, I can see your point.

The thing about all these "Social Software" experiments seems to me to be that they don't serve any real purpose. The bug you to one extent or another, and their goal seems to be the expansion of your friend list. I'm not in high school, and I don't feel a need to re-create a high school social environment where I can have more success to make up for some lack of it the first time around. I had friends then -- many of who I still hold dear -- and I have friends now. When I'm interested in something new, I meet people also interested in that and I have more friends. I don't need facebook to do that.

Want to know what "social computing" actually works?

The Lotus BP Forum is the best social software network I've ever seen.

The Penumbra Group is very successful (though very far from perfect) social computing.

Both are purpose and interest driven; both have led me to real friendships, and both have increased my business as well.

Andrew Pollack, 2007-08-25

@Andrew; I am very much with you in some respects, but I'd suggest that there a distinction between 'friend-networking' and 'business-networking', and crossing the boundary is what can confuse and annoy people.

I have no illusions that my Facebook page will net me any business contacts (indeed, even my photograph on there does not accurately represent me) and my very few 'friends' in that context are people I knew already; I can see that Facebook may prove genuinely useful in renewing and strengthening those existing bonds.

Meanwhile my (also very few) contacts on OpenBC/ Xing, only a couple of whom I knew in advance, have brought some useful and interesting projects both to me, and to other business contacts to whom I was able to refer some work or ideas - I have just been thinking that I should put some effort into building that network.

But, never are the twain likely to meet.... the networks are doing different things, and some peoples' complaints about social networking systems (and I'm not pointing at you here) suggest that they are confusing those quite different purposes.

Nick Daisley, 2007-08-25

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