Friendster? Spamster?

Friendster caught some flack recently for “re-inviting� people who had not responded to previous invites from their friends. The temptation is strong to abuse email addresses of people who have not opted in to your site or list.

Friendster spokesman Jeff Roberto called this a misconception. “We’re not in the business of spamming,” he said. The campaign, he added, was a one-time mailing to people who were once invited but never joined the network.

I would like to point out that a generally accepted definition of spam includes:any commercially oriented, unsolicited bulk mailing perceived as being excessive and undesired. I would add: or any advertising email that comes from a source with which the recipient does not have a pre-existing commercial relationship.

Friendster’s “campaign” falls into both those categories. If i didn’t respond to a “friend’s” invitation the first time, I don’t want Friendster hounding me about it.

More generally, organizations have to be very careful to not abuse email addresses or other contact information for a non user provided by a user. Internet privacy is more important than ever, and companies and organizations that can guarantee a persons privacy online and insure that they are not contacted when they don’t want to be will have a market advantage over time.

The article on Friendster elaborates about how the social networking site is falling behind competitors like MySpace.

I have always dreamed that one day, the social networking sites will adopt a common protocol allowing users to have one profile and access the features of all the sites. I don;t have time to log in to either Friendster or MySpace on a regular basis, and not knowing where my friends will be hanging out online and posting bulletins decreases the utility of both sites.

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