How I lost 143 friends
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 February 2013, 3:09 am
To misquote Oscar Wilde: "To lose one friend may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose 143 looks like carelessness." I spent part of my weekend unfriending 143 people on Facebook. Took a while, because you need to defriend each of them individually. That leaves me with only 2 friends left there, which happen to be the only ones I actually know in real life. Everybody else was friended via a forum of some Facebook game. Over the years these games have become increasingly unplayable if you don't have dozens of friends or more to send you items. That isn't lazyness, the items you get from your friends are needed for the game and can't be acquired by other in-game means. You either get the stuff from your friends, or you buy it for real money. And you need those friend-items for pretty much every quest after the tutorial.

The logical consequence is that all the forums of Facebook games have "add me" threads, where people are looking for fake friends to exchange items with. Somehow the adding of fake friends becomes just part of the gameplay. If adding friends is what you have to do to advance in the game, you do it. And with half of Facebook logins being just to play games, and hundreds of millions of players per month, that ends up with lots of fake friendships.

Of course there are no statistics of how many of the Facebook friendships out there are fake, but it sure is a significant percentage. Add to that the friend connections of the 83 million fake Facebook accounts, and you get a hundreds of millions of "friendships" between people who never met. So who cares? Well, did you ever wonder why a free internet service is worth over 60 billion dollars on the stockmarket? Advertisers pay good money to use the social connections on Facebook. The theory is that word of mouth from your friends is good advertising. But of course that only works if those friends are real. This is why Facebook is now asking you when you receive a friend invite whether you know that person in real life. Not that this helps much, as people are just lying. But Facebook sure has understood that there is a threat to their business model.

I didn't have a problem with lying to Facebook or making lots of fake game friends because I am not really using that Facebook account for anything else. But with Facebook increasingly going after fake accounts and fake friendships, and some Zynga games really exaggerating with the number of friends needed to get anything done, Facebook got increasingly unattractive as a game platform. And then of course tablets like the iPad or Android-based equivalents, or smart-phones, are on the rise as platforms for casual games. Why bother with fake Facebook friends in Farmville if you can play a similar but better Hay Day on the iPad, which doesn't require friends at all? So I quit all Facebook games and defriended all of my fake game friends. I'm sure they won't even notice. But unless they come up with something else, I predict an unhappy future to Facebook game companies.
Tobold's Blog



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