Saturday, February 16, 2008

Enemybook to Bring World Peace

Hot on the heals of Enemybook's appearance in Timeout London, I've been asked by a fairly well-known NGO to make a more serious version of the program. The goal of this NGO is to prevent genocide, and their hope is that a more serious Enemybook will act as a sort of war criminal "watch list." The idea is to help educate the public about some of the alleged perpetrators of atrocities being committed internationally (specifically in Darfur), and get people to put pressure on the UN to stop these atrocities and bring the appropriate people to justice.

Admittedly, I have my doubts about the efficacy of a Facebook app in furthering this (or any) humanitarian cause. But if there's one app that can stop genocide and bring world peace, Enemybook is it. Time permitting, I'm going to see what I can do for this organization. More details to follow in the coming weeks.

Facebook Cracks Down on "Forced Virility"

The people who work at Facebook read this blog religiously. At least I assume they do, because that's the only explanation for the news up on their developer site. Responding to my earlier post (as well the academic research backing it up), Facebook now explicitly bans what I termed "forced virility:"

"... as part of our ongoing efforts to improve Platform (sic) through policy and technology changes, applications are prohibited from dead-ending users at an invite-friends page, and must never again prompt for invites after the user has declined.

More generally, unnecessarily gating access to application features behind inviting friends is not a best is misleading to entice an investment of effort or promise a result and then -- without warning -- hold expected content hostage behind an invitation ransom; this is now expressly prohibited...."

This is a long overdue move on Facebook's part. Right now there's no way for Facebook to automatically enforce the new rules. They'll have to rely on users to report apps that are in violation. Most users probably won't do this, because they won't know that the apps are doing anything wrong; the precedent for forced invites has already been set.

It'll be interesting to see when (or if) things change.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Improvements on the Way

I've been meaning to make some improvements to Enemybook for awhile now, but grad school and other side projects have prevented me from doing so. Recently I've been preoccupied with a paper deadline, but that finished up today, so hopefully I'll have some time in the next couple of weeks to get cracking on Enemybook. Improvements I want to make are:

1) The ability to enemy "pages" for products/celebrities/politicians. Right now you can sort of do this, but the pictures don't display properly on your profile.

2) The ability to enemy groups.

3) The ability to define your own enemies by specifying a name and uploading a pic. This way people can get more creative about who/what they enemy, without having to go through the rigmarole of creating dummy facebook profiles.

Of course there are plenty of other improvements that could be made, but for now this is more than enough to keep me busy. Any suggestions for other things you'd like to see?