Friday, 23 November 2007

Are Facebook Apps the New Chain-Mail Syndrome?

I have had a profile on Facebook now for quite a few months (lost track to be honest). At the beginning my activity was simple enough, it consisted of just friends and posting from wall to wall.

After a few weeks, I started getting Facebook App invitations from all over the place. Some even multiple times as different friends invited me to use the same applications. The natural thing to do is to accept those invitations and add the new App to your profile. Now here is the interesting part, and the rant.

The system is conceived in such a way that when you add a new App, it automatically asks you to share it with your friends. You can of course skip this but the natural tendency is to send the new found App to your friends on your list. Now it dawned on me, yesterday, while chatting with some colleagues in Cambridge that this is almost like viral marketing or messaging (or whatever you want to call it). I would even go as far as to say this is almost like the old chain-mail, and chain-email stuff from the 80's and 90's! Remember those things, where you would receive them and in the message it would say, please forward this to your friends and colleagues etc etc etc! I am sure that this was not the original intent of the Facebook creators when they created an API and there are some good things about the extensions that Facebook supports. But...

Think about it! Facebook Apps are doing exactly the same thing right now... Some are even monetary chain-mails (yes some Apps allow you to opt into giving the creator money)! So what, well:

  • My question is will this explode into the new viral marketing of the decade...
  • Are we as humans still not evolved enough to be gullible like that (I am guilty of this)...
  • Or do we just need to have this affirmation of our power to share new things and new information with our firends