Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Judgement By Reputation

There have been a lot of bits and bytes flying around in the past couple of days over Facebook's kicking recruiter Harry Joiner off for what they interpreted as spamming of their members; a debate that is probably not going to die immediately either. In case you didn't catch it, Harry tried to fire up his entire gmail list (4600 names) and suggest to them to join Facebook. Facebook apparently was "not amused" (to borrow a phrase from our friends in the UK) nor did they appreciate the "marketing help" and not only blew Harry away, but in a message that is certainly not going to win any awards for tact. Check it out:
Hi Harry,

Your account has been disabled because you have violated Facebook's Terms of Use.

Abusing the features of the site to spam other people is not permitted. In addition, it is a violation of our Terms of Use to use one's account for advertising or promotional purposes.

I'm sorry, but you will no longer be able to use Facebook. This decision is final.

Thanks for your understanding,

Customer Support Representative
If you want to get a good understanding of Harry's perspective on all this, take the time to read his comment on Gavin Heaton's blog MarketingProfs Daily Fix on a posting called Who Owns You. He makes some pretty potent arguments.

So what causes stuff like this anyway? My take is that at one level it is simply part of the growing pains and "learnings" that we are going through as we continue the cyber experiment we currently label as "social networking. At another level, unhappily I think I would tend to agree with John Sumser's take when he wrote in his post on his Electronic Recruiting News:
"The Facebook's response to Harry Joiner was due, in part, to the dreadful reputation that Recruiters have around the planet. Spam, in the guise of "talent pool development" has become a tool of the trade. Bulk email, used because it works, has an unseen cost."
You can read the rest of what John had to say by going to the post About Recruiters.

We all have our reputations, and for good or for ill as they say, perceptions are real to those who hold them. What happened to Mr. Joiner is an example of once perceptions out there, and in a world where judgments are far too often made without really making an effort to look beyond the surface (as clearly Facebook didn't) when it rains, it rains on the just as well as the unjust. Harry Joiner may have made some sort of an error in judgment, but from what I can tell, he really didn't deserve the electronic version of being summarily executed.

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