Twitterspam Comes to Facebook

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One of the biggest problems with Twitter is that a single blathering user can monopolize the discussion. This week, Facebook rolled out a new home page design. In this change, they introduced this Twitter misfeature to Facebook.

Conventional Twitter presentation (such as your personal landing page) is a zero-sum game. (That's a mathematical term that says for every winner there is a loser.) Each "tweet" update you post on Twitter pushes somebody else's update off the page. Each time you win a space on the page, somebody else loses theirs. This means that a single blathering user can displace numerous other people.

The problem is compounded by the realization that the value of a person's updates often are inversely proportional to the frequency of their updates. Now I'm in the hall; Now I'm in the room; Speaker A said, 'this'; Speaker B said, 'that'. Thus not only do blatherers displace a proportionate number of other people's messages, they often do so with low value messages.

Until now, Facebook has been largely immune to this problem. Previously, your Facebook landing page only showed the most recent status update from a user. If a user started blathering, you only saw their most recent update. If you wanted to see more updates, you needed to go visit their page.

This has changed with the recent Facebook update. Now, all of a friend's recent status updates—not just the single most recent update—are shown on your landing page. That means a single blathering user can now push other people's information off your landing page.

The "show all updates" versus "show most recent update" policy makes some sense for Twitter, because that's the way you have conversations there. It's a crappy mechanism to get around their lack of topics or threading. You don't need to do this on Facebook; it has a true comment system. If somebody posts something to Facebook that you want to respond to you don't have to create a whole new update: simply add a comment. (Twitter does have a reply mechanism that doesn't flow into Facebook, but the livetweets and microstatus updates do.)

The Facebook problem is compounded by the fact that many people (like me) have linked their Twitter and Facebook statuses. When I post to Twitter it also updates my Facebook status. This can be problematic, because many people approach Twitter and Facebook status updates in different ways. Previously, the "show only most recent" filter on Facebook provided tuning for the impedance mismatch between the two systems. That filter has been removed, so Facebook now is being cluttered with Twitter chatter.

If you are a Twitter user with your status linked to Facebook, please consider breaking that link so your live tweets don't flow into your Facebook status. And if you are Facebook, please consider putting this filter back into place.

Comments

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Me too

You are spot on with the twitterspam invasion of facebook. I would like to address another problem that compounds the issue, facebook apps.

Unlike iPhone apps, any jackass can whip up a facebook app and server it up to registered users. There has been a recent rash of "spam" apps, sucking the life out of fb profiles. This is how they work:
You receive a notification message from a friend stating that "So-and-so Friend has rated you the most loveable. Click here to find out what So-and-so said". You click, if you accept the installation of the app, it warns you it will suck all the contact and personal info you have (as do they all) and away you go. You land at the "application page" and it looks like a desert. A bunch of nothing. Very little is going on. Why would my friend have sent me this? Aha! They got spammed by it from one of their friends. So you got a spam? What do you do? Delete it just like you delete a spam email, right? Great! Remove that app and go on.

Here's the kicker, that app already has spammed 20 of your contacts with a message that might read something like YOU sent so-and-so a secret message, click here to read what this person said about you. And it slurps all their contacts, personal info and sends 20 more msgs out.

The dagger in the heart (and why facebook quickly becoming the new breeding ground for viral viruses) is that they have YOUR personal information. So many ppl must think facebook is a safe place. I see many friends who have their a. real home address b. home phone c. cell phone d. spouse or significant other's name e. the name of their pets and kids.

^---- An identity thief with this info doesn't need a whole lot more. Just because they don't have your SS# doesn't mean you're safe. In short, you've been harvested and may now be ripe for the picking.

This is the current level of threats on facebook. It won't be long (mark my words) before these seemingly simple and harmless 'personal information slurping apps' turn in to much more devious application, spreading viruses through the social network and worse.