I’ve been researching social network sites for a presentation I’m making at the end of the month. There’s quite a few of them out there. As part of my research I’ve been signing up for all the major ones and exploring them a bit. I already had accounts on Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, Friendster, Orkut and LinkedIn, but now I’m also on Hi5, Cyworld and Bebo.
Most of these sites allow you to connect to your online address book. This is for two distinct purposes: 1) to see who else amongst your contacts may already be using the site, and/or 2) to invite contacts who aren’t using the site to join up. I’m not interested in flogging any of these social network sites, so I restrict my explorations to the first purpose.
Which brings me to Bebo.
First step: Ask her out and treat her like a lady.
I entered my username and password to allow Bebo access to my Gmail address book. Pretty standard stuff. All the big social network sites allow you to do this.
Second step: Pass the intelligence test.
This is to prevent abuse by spambots. For some reason I got this test twice. I think I just failed it the first time. (No comments from the peanut gallery please.) Probably doesn’t bear mentioning, except it was the only irregularity I seemed to encounter.
Third step: The crucial part.
Once you’ve connected to your address book, you can choose whom to invite. Or you can skip this step. See the little link in the corner that says "skip"? I clicked that. I did not click the "Add Friends" button. I swear!
And, hey Bebo, where’s the listing of my friends who are already on Bebo? Why did that button back in step one say “Find Friends” if you aren’t gonna show me a listing of those already here? I’ve repeated this experiment several times and they don’t show up.
Fourth step: Crap in your pants.
Everybody in my address book got a Bebo invite from me. I just became a spammer.
I have over 700 contacts in my address book. Some of those are e-mail distribution lists with hundreds of subscribers. It’s safe to say over a thousand people just got spammed, including my parents, my representatives in city government, their staffers, the board members of my neighborhood organization… Also faculty at this fine institution where I work, the very people to whom I will be making that presentation at the end of the month, at which time I will be repping myself as having some sort of expertise on this subject. Indeed my professional life is very much wrapped up with the notion that I am a savvy communicator. Oy vey.
Thus, having a socially and professionally unacceptable act witnessed by others, I experienced that emotional state commonly known as embarrassment. This was quickly followed by feelings of confusion, frustration and anger.
I’m hatin’ on Bebo right now. I had to send an apology e-mail to all my contacts. Still, roughly 26 of my friends and family went ahead and signed up for Bebo. So you can add guilt to my list of bad feelings.
A temporary one-time glitch, perhaps? Could be, I guess. But Peter Bihr’s article from this past March indicates there’s a pattern of abuse here.
A social network site which embarrasses me is not a site I want to use. This kind of problem is an absolute show-stopper for me.
I will be steering people away from Bebo. I will encourage my friends and family to shun the site. My children and my children’s children, yea unto the seventh generation, will shun the site.
If you got one of these invite from me, I apologize. Please disregard it. Or if you accepted the invitation and signed up for Bebo, I’d encourage you to delete your account and have no more to do with Bebo.