I’ll start by saying what I like about Faceforce, the unofficial mashup between Salesforce.com and Facebook.
- It’s a great example of ad hoc collaboration between two companies in what seems to be an unofficial way. Clara Shih, an AppExchange Product Manager at Salesforce.com and Todd Perry, a software engineer at Facebook, built this integration.
- It’s a nice hack that shows the potential of both sides.
- It showcases the fluid nature of data between systems, which speaks to a main principle of Web 2.0, i.e. “Data as the next Intel Inside”.
- It’s a business application for Facebook, that (finally) shows Web 2.0 interaction with enterprise data.
- It’s a social app.
Now that that’s out of the way, I am stunned at the creepy factor and in disbelief that no one is talking about the privacy aspects of this. Granted, it’s a busy week for the blogoshpere and media: TechCrunch 40, Yahoo acquired Zimbra, Dreamforce, SAP’s A1S shindig, Google Presentations launched, etc.
But still, this app is a privacy nightmare and a spam machine. It’s main features are:
- It links your Facebook friends into Salesforce through AppExchange, allowing you to turn them into contacts and leads.
- It brings all the Facebook features into Salesforce, e.g. poking, common friends, gifts, messaging, etc.
Clara produced a demo that shows the Salesforce side. She underlines the ability to see a 360 degree view of your customers, prospects and business associates. Uh, I thought these were friends. In reality, most of the people in my Facebook network are colleagues, so sure, maybe it’s a nomenclature issue. But still, I have a certain trust level with these people.
For example, I trust them not to mine me for sales opportunities and spam me with sales calls. Maybe I’m naive.
She goes on to highlight the personal data from Facebook, like what shows a person likes, as a good introduction for a sales call. This is a tried and true sales tactic, but it’s still creepy. Imagine that call:
“Hello, I see from Facebook that you belong to the Enough with the Poking, Lets Just Have Sex group. I also enjoy sex. I want to sell you something.”
Faceforce also allows you to spam common friends, in case you don’t feel comfortable spamming your “lead” directly. So, not only will you be spammed by sales calls, but your real friends are also subject to spam.
And the only way you’ll know before this happens is if you see in your news feed that so-and-so has added the Faceforce application, which by the way, I can’t even find using Facebook’s search. Sweet.
OK, I know any sales person worth a damn probably uses any and all social networks to get this information already. I also know that by joining these networks, I am exposing my information to this type of use. I am aware of this. I am also aware that anyone who has my email address or my business card or knows me through a friend or extended (real world) network could spam me. Faceforce just makes it to easy.
Yeah, I know you could turn it off or block it, but I wonder if people who agree to share personal data to applications bother to go through all the steps required to shut off a single application. Right, wrong, indifferent, Faceforce capitalizes on the open nature of Facebook to use data for its own purposes.
It just seems uber creepy to see data getting used like this. Social networks are based on trust and existing relationships. Many of us use them for professional purposes too. Getting spammed with sales calls or calls to introduce me to someone breaks that trust and is grounds for unfriending.
Frankly, I’m not a fan of the LinkedIn model either, which I can ignore, since it’s by email, but still is spam, not bacn, because I do not want it.
I guess this is another step in the evolution of the social network, which is another reason why the controlled, inside the firewall network may be the purest form of social network.
Anyway, kudos to the creators of Faceforce for building a creepy, spam machine.