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Viral Tricks

By Reuters  |  Posted 07-21-2008 Print

Viral Tricks

Facebook's popularity has surged since the site became an open platform for independent designers to distribute their own Web programs 14 months ago--attracting developers who have created 24,000 programs, and inspiring a new Web vocabulary with terms like "SuperPoke."

But the format has given rise to a new form of spam, nicknamed BACN (pronounced ba-con), which is sent by software makers using viral marketing tricks to flood members with confusing messages seemingly from friends.

Facebook's existing design ended up rewarding many software makers for intrusive, attention-grabbing tactics, said Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst with Forrester Research.

"Facebook is trying to weed out the non-important social activities," Owyang said. "The redesign makes your profile more relevant to other users, telling them who is doing what, where are they and what are they doing socially."

Some of the most widely used applications from Facebook's biggest independent developers, Slide Inc. and RockYou, were banned earlier this month until they complied with Facebook's demands, Facebook's Ling said.

Slide's Top Friends program was only restored to Facebook after fixing privacy violations, while some features of Rock You's Super Wall, which counts 500,000 active users, remain temporarily disabled, a Facebook spokeswoman said on Sunday.


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