Facebook announced a number of steps today to battle the growing problem of application spam – stuff that is sent from your Facebook friends asking you to try out new services. Generally, applications force users to send these invitations in order to get access to the more interesting features.
The result can be dozens or hundreds of messages a day asking you to join some service that you really don’t want to join. And if you do join it, you make the whole spam cycle continue.
The growing problem has led to a number of users taking matters into their own hands, Facebook-style. The “No, I will NOT invite 20 friends just to add your application!” group on Facebook, for example, now has nearly 100,000 followers.
Facebook, eager to avoid “Pulling a Plaxo,” isn’t sitting still either. They’ve shown a willingness to put a stop to bad behavior by application developers in the past. Today, they announced additional steps on their blog.
First, users can block applications when they receive a request, so no additional requests from that app will get through. Second, they added a “clear all” requests feature that erases all pending requests (my new favorite, and most used, Facebook feature). Also, Facebook is watching how many people block or ignore application requests – too many, and an application has restrictions placed on it.
There are a few other tweaks as well, which will hopefully have the combined effect of reducing the problem. I also have my own method for dealing with it – by removing friends who get too spammy.