Facebook faux paux face palm (I hate you BranchOut!)

Oh the shame! Check out my wall.

Facebook wall populated/polluted with Branchout status updates

See all those horrible, horrible application status messages. I like to think of myself as pretty web savvy but I lost some serious web cred today when I inadvertantly spammed countless friends.

How I became a web idiot

After returning from a workshop I was feeling pretty tired and looking for any semi legitimate opportunity to avoid actual work. Then I got a Facebook message from Ahmed my workmate. OK it was a Facebook message – but he’s a colleague, so its kinda work related, right? I could be missing an office meme here! OK. Click.

Then I am faced with a question. “Who would you rather work with? Ahmed or Ari?” Now here’s the thing. I work with both these guys, and a whole other bunch of adorable folk. We joke around a lot, and Ahmed and Ari in particular. I was thinking this was a deliberate cute game for Ahmed to rack up some teasing ammunition if he could get more people to “vote” for him than vote for Ari. Thats what it looked like anyway. Faced with a choice, I noticed an option to choose both. Joy. Diplomacy wins. I have no favourites.

Branchout being douche bags and the self selecting check box

After this I was faced with 2 more choices of friends I would rather work with. Both. Then 2 more. Both. Then 2 more. Both. Then 2 more – actually I would rather work with you. Then 2 more – oh, there’s Angela from high school, she’s really smart, sure I’d love to work with her! Then I noticed the check-box. Shit. Had I been spamming my friends all this time? I unselected the checkbox not wanting to promote BranchOut to anyone else without knowing what it was about. In my tired stupor and like an hypnotized pokie addict I played on. And on. Oh and a few more selections. Until I noticed that the check-box I had unselected defaulted back to select state with the presentation of each new pair.

Its evil mechanism is explained in this message between my friend James, who got spammed by me being gamed by Branchout.

Facebook message conversation: James "I just got a message on FaceCrack that you had answered a question about me...looks like some sadistic seductive spam, but I was intrigued, so do you know what this is about?" Erietta "yes and apologies, sadistic application I was experimenting with (after friend wa so fooled) with FUCKED checkbox i thought i had unchecked but in fact kept re-selecting itself hence my many spam like messages to friends. ugh! and sorry"
Me explaining myself to receiver of spam-like branch wall post.

F*!k you BranchOut. You are winning no friends, fans, connections, branches, leaves or whatever stupid metaphor you’re going for here.  Clearly the clever designers know how to employ game strategies to lull people into joining their application. That’s OK but only to a certain extent. A line was crossed! Yes, both James and I were “intrigued” and clearly, I am an idiot. But that check-box is a small call to action, and not only that – it re-sets itself to be selected when any normal sane person would assume that once they had interacted with and changed this setting, that the setting would apply permanently. Not so. To all my friends, sincere apologies for polluting your wall with rubbish.

Comments

Eri
Reply

Thanks so much for the reference Sergio! Much appreciated. Also, how cool is it that I can use Google translate to read your post!

Joe
Reply

Very clearly a dark pattern that should be braced for. I think they’d call it Friend SPAM. wiki.darkpatterns.org

Eri
Reply

As always Joe, you are a font of link goodness.

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