So I decided to let Facebook check my Gmail contact list to see if I had missed some contacts (people using aliases, etc …). After carefully selecting a couple of FB friends to invite (a buddy from the army, …), I clicked ‘Select’ and then ‘OK’ on the next screen that I supposed was a ‘Confirm’ window. I didn’t even read what was written on it. Some minutes later I saw emails starting to come in on different email aliases I had created in all my years of Internet activity. Apparently I allowed Facebook to send email messages to all Gmail contacts with email addresses that were not yet ‘known’ in Facebook. I have about 1500 addresses in my Gmail, let’s say some 500 already have a FB profile: so I just allowed Facebook to send out 1000 ‘unsollicited commercial emails’ or *spam* on my behalf. There is no way for me to know how many emails went out, nor to whom. I feel strongly embarrased, since I have been a strong opponent of spam for years, and since I have no idea who I have bothered with this bulk mail.
A company like Facebook probably has a whole team concentrated on user experience and workflow streamlining, so I can only assume that this strategy is by design. They probably have to keep the monthly exponential growth numbers so they use every opportunity to collect new email addresses. This is plain wrong. The default should be ‘opt in‘, not ‘opt out‘ (that is, select those you want to invite instead of unselect those you don’t wanto to invite).
So dear Christopher Cox and/or Chamath Palihapitiya at Facebook, while you will probably say that ‘but it is clearly written on the page that they’re about to send an invitation to (in my case, 1000??) contacts‘, you know that you are wrong on this one. You’re spamming. Big time, like real jerks. Since you’re probably not going to do anything about it, Google: any ideas?