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January 27, 2008


Leo Davidson

Well said!

Another question is why we need to install "applications" in the first place. Why must we give code written by god-knows-who which does god-knows-what access to our personal information, simply to view a message that someone has sent us, or to answer a simple quiz or see what is essentially a web page?

If the web was like Facebook we would have to install a new web browser to view every site. Each web browser would be written by different, random people we've never heard of and would be given full control of our machines. A web browser that to download we had to give our phone number and the address of all our friends. That just wouldn't fly.

Oh, you can limit the access applications get, but there is absolutely no way to know what level of access apps require to work, so the easy thing to do is leave all the boxes ticked and click continue. They don't tell you which access they need, let alone justify it by explaining why it is needed and what will be done with it. Worse, the only restrictions you can impose are about what the application can write, not what it can read. If you untick the "know who I am and access my information" checkbox you won't be allowed to install the app at all. Why on earth do I have to tell a 3rd party who I am and my list of friends and interests just so that I can see a bit of HTML that a friend created? It's insane.

Facebook is handy for staying in touch with distant friends but I ignore every app request I get now. It's a very strange website because some aspects of it are very well designed while others seem to be a combination of complete stupidity and user-hostility.

Michael Zuschlag

So, Facebook apps are remarkably like socially engineered malware that spreads through email: get the user to click a link in an email, and everyone in the user's address book gets the email next. Maybe, like malware writers, the objective is not to be helpful to the user, but to spread an app as far as possible. But to what benefit for Facebook?

Jonathan Nicol

This post perfectly describes everything I dislike about Facebook.

When you liken Facebook apps to spam, you hit the nail on the head. As well as all the app requests, my 'super wall' is filled with chain-mail messages from friends exhorting me to 'forward this message' to my friends or risk dying in a freak accident.

This brand of time wasting peer-to-peer spam died out years ago in the email medium, but seems to have found new life on Facebook.

As Facebook matures (assuming it lasts that long) I imagine (or rather, hope) its users will become less tolerant of spam and spyware, as they have with email and websites.


This has not bothered me firsthand as a user myself because I weigh it against the insidious terror which is MySpace. Yes, yes, yes, my peeps are finally all off myspace! Alleluiah! Alleluiah!

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