To My Friends Who Play Facebook Games

I’m writing this blog post as a letter to many of my closest friends. These are some of the people who are most important to me. I hope they read it.

Many of my friends play games on Facebook. Being a web developer, I took an early interest in these things and delved into the behind-the-scenes issues regarding them. I read articles about it and I keep up with the news – like Facebook’s privacy troubles with the Canadian government. As soon as I realized that installing a Facebook application can give a mysterious third party person or company access to practically your whole profile, I decided to avoid them. In the past I’ve voiced my concerns to my friends and mostly dropped it.

Sadly, the issues with Facebook applications are much much worse than I thought. In the news the last few days are many articles outlining the shady and downright criminal scams perpetrated by makers of these facebook apps, and build into their games.

Take for example, the quote by Mark Pincus, the CEO of the company behind Farmville, Mafia Wars, Roller Coaster, Scramble, YoVille, Vampires and many more, where he said:

“I knew I needed revenues, right, f******, now. Like I needed revenues now. So I funded the company myself but I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this zwinky toolbar which was like, I don’t know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it. *laughs* We did anything possible just to just get revenues so that we could grow…”

Source: Article at The Consumerist

What’s even more shocking is that this quote is from Mark talking to other Facebook app developers. Sharing his dirty methods with others. Great.

Other shady dealings this and other companies behind Facebook apps foist on their users include:

  • If you give them your cellphone number they sign you up for a recurring charge to your cellphone that is hard to cancel.
  • Apps like toolbars that can contain spyware or ad-ware.
  • Ask users to fill in surveys so that their responses are sold to advertising companies.
  • Get you to sign up for misleading subscriptions and services you don’t need.
  • Misleading ads and links that trick you into clicking on them.

And these are the companies who have nearly full access to the info on your Facebook profile. Scary.

I can admit that these games are fun. I’ve played a few myself. However I personally don’t care how much fun a game is, I won’t support a company that does these kinds of things, even if I think that I personally won’t fall for these scams.

So, why am I writing this?

Maybe it’s just another attempt by the group’s “contrarian friend” to get some information to the people I love the most. Maybe it will be ignored. Maybe they will just say “Oh, Sherri!”, and keep playing.

But at the very least, I feel that it’s my duty to beg my friends to dump these games like the pieces of rotten, scammer, garbage that they are. At the very least drop the games made by the Zynga company whose CEO admitted to scamming its users. I beg this not only because I’m looking out for my friends, but also because these types of activities are an insult to the web developer profession.

So, now I’ve shared my info, the rest is up to you.

My Sources Of Information

Time Magazine (Are You Getting Scammed by Facebook Games?)
The Consumerist (Mafia Wars CEO Brags About Scamming Users From Day One)
The Consumerist (Social Network Games: Fake Mobsters, Real Racket)
TechCrunch Article (How To Spam Facebook Like a Pro)

(See, I’m not making this stuff up!)