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Friendster Fights Fakesters 329

Posted by simoniker
from the i'm-friends-with-jesus dept.
jerkface writes "Matchmaking/personal networking site Friendster is experiencing a 'problem'. Unruly individuals like John Locke, Socrates, Alf, and many incarnations of Jesus Christ are trying to take over the site, according to SFWeekly.com. For a few months, the 'fakesters' were mostly tolerated, so long as they didn't offend anyone with the images they posted. Fakester profiles exist claiming to be famous people (alive and dead), cities, buildings, abstract concepts, and - increasingly - Friendster CEO Jon Abrams. Abrams is now saying they're all going to be deleted because they ruin the site. Fakesters argue he's stifling the full potential of the site, and many people report that 100% genuine profiles have been deleted in the recent campaigns against fakesters."
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Friendster Fights Fakesters

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2003 @07:46AM (#6693831)
    Someone pretending to be someone they are not on the interweb????!!!! Say it ain't so!! This can't be true!!

    • by Jackdaw Rookery (696327) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @08:40AM (#6694041) Homepage Journal
      Joins IRC channel #linux
      "Hi, I'm Jenny" (This alone nets first few male idiots but the majority don't bite.)
      Five minutes of joining in on other peoples conversations adding nothing constructive, then, non-bot presence established male asks the inevitable question and it's time to reel them in...)
      "Me? I'm an 18 year old Comp Sci student, 36/24/34:)))" (Those particular stats confuses some of the geeks, quick establish credentials, give them stuff they understand, think target audience you fool.)
      "Did you get hit by the worm? Me neither, I run Gentoo. Yer, MS sucks and blows." (Phew, geeks now accept and idolise. 100 PM's and climbing, stupid males.)

      BOFH sits back, scratches beard while patting the ever increasing beer belly, "Another constructive day."
    • by snake_dad (311844) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @10:34AM (#6694919) Homepage Journal
      Stop impersonating Anonymous Coward. He's a well respected member of our /. community!
    • Please look up the George W. Bush entry.

      Fave Book: "The only book ive ever had read to me was the bible."

      Fave Music: "Anything by Francis Scott Key."

      Couple this with entries for "The Dude" from big lebowski, the aforementioned "War" and you have further insight into what these peoples interests are like. I know my sister made George W. her friend after reading the disparaging profile. I think the creator should limit deleting accounts to profane ("A Big Penis") accounts and is really selling himself shor
      • entropy? (Score:4, Informative)

        by autopr0n (534291) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @01:17PM (#6696587) Homepage Journal
        I think you used the word entropy way wrong. How does 'people interacting' create more microstates that have the same microstate?

        I think the word you are looking for is chaos, or maybe you should have just said "large numbers of people interacting will cause unexpected results"

        Entropy is the number if microstates, the individual kinetic energy of each particle) that have the same 'macrostate', like the heat.

        For example a block of ice has lower entropy then a glass of water because in the ice the water molecules can only move around a little bit, while in the water they can move all over the place, and have many more possible amounts of kinetic energy.

        The 'entropy' in Friendster would be the connections that could be severed without changing the over-all macrostate of the site. So if bob is connected to everyone that Jane is connected to, and he deletes Jane, it doesn't affect anyone else on the site. These fakesters actually do add entropy because lots of people connect to them. In some cases you could drop a whole group of them without changing the over all state for anyone else.

        (anyway, please let me know if I made any mistakes in my explanation of entropy)
  • Friendster (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2003 @07:47AM (#6693833)
    This is slashdot. People here are not interested in dating because they met a beautiful +3 half-elf on everquest. Please move to the next story.
  • by heironymouscoward (683461) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (drawocsuomynorieh)> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @07:49AM (#6693842) Journal
    Surely Slashdot (karma whoring, karma whoring) has shown that a self-moderating system can tolerate huge amounts of noise and still turn up valuable content.
    There are several rules that a site like Friendsters has to follow to allow value to emerge and be protected:
    1. No democracy: status depends on time spent in the system and behaviour, and high status gives more power. (Basically like Karma).
    2. Reputation: aliases, so if you troll, people know who you are.
    3. Tools for promoting good and punishing bad behaviour (like moderation).
    4. Design around the social aspects of the groups, i.e. if people want to use the system a certain way, let them.
    The last is a bummer when people don't do what you expect them to. But if ten million fakesters create a happy community, why not?
    • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @07:55AM (#6693876) Homepage Journal
      Censorship always turns sour
      If you call that censorship, you have no idea what censorship is... If I graffiti your house, and you clean it off, would you call that censorship too?

      Freedom of speech is protected, but only from Governmental interference. Thats what the "Congress shall make no law..." bit mean in the First Amendment. (This principle also holds everywhere else, so don't bring the "I'm not American" stich. Me neither.

      If you use use my private resources for your speech, I absolutely have the right to withdraw my resources if I don't like what you're saying.
      • Censorship is when someone with power decides what other people can or cannot say. I don't think creating a fake profile is like spraying grafitti on someone's house. But deciding to kill profiles because they don't fit _your_ design for what people can and cannot do is most definitely censorship.
        It will create bad feeling and backfire terribly: friendsters will not survive more than a few months if people don't feel free to express themselves any way they like.
        It's like the Slashdot troll culture. Ironic
        • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @08:05AM (#6693925) Homepage Journal
          I don't think creating a fake profile is like spraying grafitti on someone's house.
          No, you don't. But the friendster people do, and it's their house.
          But deciding to kill profiles because they don't fit _your_ design for what people can and cannot do is most definitely censorship.
          No, its not. Its their web site. Until you sign a contract with them saying otherwise, they get to set the rules, and they get to decide who plays. Don't like their rules, get your own website. Its not hard.
          • Indeed. Kinda my point exactly: if you don't accomodate people's preferred social models, they will go somewhere else.

            I'm not debating the rights and wrongs, only the 'how'. I presume the idea of deleting fake profiles is to keep the system working. I believe it will instead break it. Look at the scene in 3 months' time and you will see that the interesting people have gone elsewhere, and built a better site that does what they want.

            The problem is basically that even a good designer cannot predict what such systems will do, or even define what "works" formally. You can only create tools that allow the people who spend most time in the group to promote value and punish fools, and then let things progress as they will.

            Personally I would make it possible for high ranking profiles to demote abusers of the system. However, many of the fakesters are very intense users, highly dedicated, and responsible for much of the growth of the network. Why on earth would you want to stop them doing their thing? It's foolish and short-sighted.
            • by tetra103 (611412) <tetra103@yahoo.com> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @08:43AM (#6694058)

              if you don't accomodate people's preferred social models, they will go somewhere else.

              I think that's exactly what the Friendster people would like to happen. I've never been on Friendster, but I can respect what type of site they'ld like to run. The net is full of Anonymous Cowards. So here's a site that wants to build a community of genuine real people. For the internet, I think it's about time.

              Deleting fake profiles may be more drastic of a solution, but I think the post indicating the use of a "karma" system is the best solution. Basically have a system where people can rate each other. Act like an ass, and you get an ass profile. As far as "fake" profiles go....hell, you'll never get rid of those. The internet is inherantly a place where people live an althernate/fake life. A karma system is just a means to put a value on that fake identity. Whether you're a fake or not, most people's true personalities will show through in a well implemented karma system.....but of course, this isn't always the case.

              In retrospect, freedom allows one to choose their own friends. So if the Friendster people don't want fakes, then bye bye they go. Those fakes can then join Fakester and be happy there.

              • Deleting fake profiles may be more drastic of a solution, but I think the post indicating the use of a "karma" system is the best solution. Basically have a system where people can rate each other. Act like an ass, and you get an ass profile.

                The thing is, there really is no reason to do this. On Friendster, you get to pick who your friends are. No interested in knowing fictional characters? Then don't let them be your friends. It's pretty simple.

                All Friendster needs to do is add a 'killfile' proper
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2003 @08:11AM (#6693943)
          Censorship is when someone with power decides what other people can or cannot say.

          That's right.

          But deciding to kill profiles because they don't fit _your_ design for what people can and cannot do is most definitely censorship.

          Hold it right there, Francine. What does "killing profiles" have to do with "deciding what other people can or cannot say?" Friendster has rules. Those rules say, in paraphrase and among other things, "Don't be a dork." Signing up for Friendster under the name Otis B. Driftwood qualifies you as a dork. So your account goes bye-bye.

          Follow your own definition, okay? This ain't censorship. Ain't even close.

          There are so many legitimate things to get frizzy about. Go find one of them. Don't get haughty about a trendy site for urban hipsters enforcing its own policies.

          It will create bad feeling and backfire terribly: friendsters will not survive more than a few months if people don't feel free to express themselves any way they like.

          People AREN'T "free to express themselves any way they like." We have free speech; we also have rules governing group behavior. Freedom != anarchy, you dweeb.

          Besides, the only people who will have "bad feeling" are those who don't belong on Friendster in the first place: prankers and children. And if they stay away in droves, all the better for Friendster.

          You're a whatchamacallit. Idiot.
        • "This establishment reserves the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason."

          That holds legal water in Texas. I can toss you out of my store just because I don't like the way you look. It might not be good for business if you misuse that ability, but it's legal.

          If you have a grand design in mind for a site/store, you get to decide who uses it. If you don't like it, don't use the site/store. Set your own up.

          The problem with the fakesters is they're ruining "business" for this site. People se
        • One of the funny things about Friendsters trying to recreate a natural society... society is almost driven by the arms race between the fakers and the cheat-detectors. We are constantly trying to fake each other, and constantly spotting and defeating these fakes.
          At least, this is the theory used by social scientists to explain emotions, and I tend to agree. Emotions evolved to be unfakable demonstrations of sincerity, which is why we're so impressed by good actors.
          So the problems that Friendster is having
      • by Burb (620144)
        Freedom of speech is protected, but only from Federal Governmental interference. The phrase Congress shall make no law... means that the responsibility to make such laws devolves to the states.

        • "Freedom of speech is protected, but only from Federal Governmental interference. The phrase Congress shall make no law... means that the responsibility to make such laws devolves to the states."

          The 14th Amendment, and its jurisprudence, requires the States to abide by the First Amendment as well. This is good. You live in a republic, not a collection of co-equal states.

          • Thanks for the correction. However, the fact that it took so long for the 14th amendment weakens the argument about principle. The constitution originally would have permitted state legislatures to pass their own laws in this area, so it could be assumed de facto if not de jure that passing of such laws at state level is ok.

            Maybe?

            • The de facto and de jure in this case is the same. Prior to the passage of the 14th Amendment, the states could enact speech restrictions (and did so). Immediately after the 14th Amendment was ratified, there were questions and it wasn't immediately clear what they could and could not do. Shortly thereafter and through today, the substantive due process jurispridence made it clear that states had to abide by the 1st Amendment. That is, states are de facto and de jure prohibited from restricting speech in wa
      • by lone_marauder (642787) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @09:17AM (#6694293)

        If I graffiti your house, and you clean it off, would you call that censorship too?

        I don't know if that's the best analogy. This is a little more like if I were to bring a group together to paint posters, and having a good portion of the group decide it would be more fun to use the paper to make paper airplanes. They've taken advantage of both the resources and group that I've provided to do something completely divergent from the original purpose. I then must decide whether to go with the flow or fly into a rage and tear up all the paper airplanes.

        I have several children, and we live on a cul-de-sac (sigh: yes, I know). Many other children live nearby. I see this course of events play out every day. One (leader) will decide that the group will go to their house and do X. Let's say, a tea party for example. But everyone gets there, and a subgroup forms who would rather play with the leader's hungry hungry hippo game or some shit. What follows is a question of group dynamics and power. The leader ultimately can enforce adherence to the original plan, because everyone's in her house. But she knows that doing so could result in everyone leaving in disgust. She'll either tolerate it, because she's more interested in people, or forbid it, because she's more interested in power. This is almost never a question answered by the leader's personal ethics, but by the number and influence of people who wish to "defect". The leader will tend to take what she can get.

        The ultimate question here is what is your purpose in creating a web site that features a group that you've invited in to create content? Are you interested in the group, the people, the content, what? Does it all really boil down to "I will excercise as much power as a reasonably large group of people will tolerate."?

    • Karma systems, like slashdot's, will end up completely wrong if the site is already being overcrowded with fakesters. Adding such a system to the friendsters site would give the fakesters complete power to increase each other's "karma", thereby putting all of the real friendsters in the dark, because they're (possibly, or something alike) not funny or interesting enough.
    • by zonix (592337)
      Surely Slashdot (karma whoring, karma whoring) has shown that a self-moderating system can tolerate huge amounts of noise and still turn up valuable content.

      I guess on Friendster, that would give a whole new meaning to the word "karma whoring".

      z
    • I have thought this since I first signed up on the site. A user should have a little more control over their "friend network". It would be nice to have the ability to set the "degrees" of separation yourself (with a site max of course). Also, after using the site for a while, I realize it would also be nice to have exclusions, such that if a connection has to route through someone I've excluded from my network then either another path must be found, or that connection is not made.

      Not sure how that would
  • fakesta' (Score:3, Funny)

    by H8X55 (650339) <jason@r@thomas.gmail@com> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @07:51AM (#6693848) Homepage Journal
    c'mon! it's the web! pretending to be someone else while flirting with the ladies is half the fun.

    no wait, i guess that's all the fun.
  • Arrrrgh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2003 @07:51AM (#6693849)
    The next person that puts a product with a stolen naming gimmik is getting an iBullet in the Headster
    • Re:Arrrrgh! (Score:3, Funny)

      by Funksaw (636954)
      It's not a STOLEN naming gimmick. It's an INFRINGING naming gimmick. There's a difference! The gimmick is merely copied, it's not like Napster loses it's gimmick.

      Besides, copying the naming gimmick merely increases the popularity of the naming gimmick and increases the demand for the original! It's like free publicity!
  • According to Passport .Net, my name is Mickey Mouse101, and I live in Disneyland. Am I a lovable cuddly creature, or a detestable, copyright-extended, DRMed pesky little mouse?

    Lindows distributes Linux, but sponsors an XBox hack, and pays license fees to SCO. Friend or freak?

    Confusing, consufing...

    -
  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @07:52AM (#6693858) Homepage
    It's 2003. Is there really no reliable way to electronically identify oneself, so that you can prove you are a person with the name and age given?

    It would make sense for passports (as in the funny booklet thing you have to take with you when travelling, for some obscure reason) to include your PGP public key. Then the passport itself (or at least the machine-readable section at the back) can be PGP signed by the government. That way you are able to prove who you are. Messages sent from Friendster or other sites would be encrypted using your public key.
    • by Zigg (64962) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @08:01AM (#6693907)

      I've always been of the mind that you should be able to get a (PGP, X.509, whatever) key signed when you go to get your drivers' license or ID card renewed, or equivalent in non-US countries. Certifying people's identities is certainly something governments should be able to do.

      Of course, I suppose there's a potentially justified fear that if they decide to become involved in that, you'd better hand over your private key at the same time...

      • Doubt if this happens too soon. Its irrefutable. Today if the screw over your identity they can 'loose' the documentation. But if the sign your key, thir is no out for them.

        So the first step is to make the current identity system near perfect. We know its terrible. So no point using a broken system to sign a key.
        • I'm not really clear what you're saying -- hard to parse. Are you saying government wouldn't do this because they couldn't screw people over with it? Or that it would make identity theft easier since people would have misplaced faith that a public-key sig is always 100% perfect?

          But you did remind me of another reason I thought personal keys would be unworkable, and that's simply the fact that people would store them on their insecure computer systems. What if Blaster didn't just reboot systems, but als

    • It's 2003. Is there really no reliable way to electronically identify oneself, so that you can prove you are a person with the name and age given?

      What are called "Is-a-Person" credentials are certainly doable. And if Friendster required such a certified meatspace linkage, their userbase would evaporate. The (ano)nymity of the medium is a large part of its appeal. People want to be someone else, and the net is the perfect place to do that. No one knows you're a newt.

      Also remember that it's a short tr

    • I'm not sure that a signed identity is the problem.

      With Friendster, there is a user called "Boston" that a lot of my friends are friends of (which is fine, since I'm from Boston).

      The problem is that "Boston" is friends with "Seattle," meaning that my network is full of people that have no real connection to me. The network has become too loosely tied together. I'd much rather have a smaller, more reliable network than the one that currently exists.
      • meaning that my network is full of people that have no real connection to me

        Exactly. I'm happy to see this article, because just yesterday I realized that I'm connected to thousands of people through a user called "Feminism". So now when I see a new person, I have to check to see whether I really have a connection to them, or whether our connection is just some BS like a sitcom character.

        Friendster allows you to search your network by common interests, so creating these fake users is unnecessary.
    • Is there really no reliable way to electronically identify oneself, so that you can prove you are a person with the name and age given?

      Well, there is real-time audio and video. It's difficult (but not impossible) to disguise your voice effectively to impersonate the opposite gender; it's even harder to impersonate the face of a different human being, male or female.

      Cumbersome, but I can imagine the value of a chatroom or dating site that ONLY allows users with video chat capabilities to make use of its d
    • It's 2003. Is there really no reliable way to electronically identify oneself, so that you can prove you are a person with the name and age given?

      There is no way to do that in real life, so why would you expect there to be one online?

      Then the passport itself (or at least the machine-readable section at the back) can be PGP signed by the government.

      Oh, right, the government. They never make mistakes/ get defrauded/ play stupid games.

  • buhu (Score:2, Funny)

    Who wants to be my friend? I would even accept, if would like to be my foe, but someone, please pay attention to me. Buhuhuhu!
  • Friendster is in beta right now, and in several months anyone wishing to browse profiles or send messages will have to pay $8 a month. It will still be free to make a profile for others to browse. The fee is why I'm not taking the site seriously. Friendster will end up just another dating site. I expect free open source versions to appear in its place though that could be worthwhile if they reach a level of popularity similar to Kazaa.
    • No, Friendster won't become "just another dating site". Friendster, at least in communities of 20 & 30-something hipsters, is changing the way people meet. Friendster is revolutionary, and it's not all about dating. I see it as a growing replacement for the bar scene. It's amazing the people you meet through friends for all kinds of activites. Sure, dating is part of it, but I'd guess a smaller part then ordinary people just looking meeting other ordinary people.
      • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @10:51AM (#6695106) Homepage
        " No, Friendster won't become "just another dating site". Friendster, at least in communities of 20 & 30-something hipsters, is changing the way people meet. Friendster is revolutionary, and it's not all about dating. I see it as a growing replacement for the bar scene. It's amazing the people you meet through friends for all kinds of activites. Sure, dating is part of it, but I'd guess a smaller part then ordinary people just looking meeting other ordinary people."

        Thank you Mr. Guerilla Marketer.

    • I expect free open source versions to appear in its place

      I suspect you're right about the pending switch from free to pay, but I think this represents an area where Open Source and free (no charge) alternatives won't be able to compete. Creating knockoff Friendster software might take a (relatively) short time, but who will pay for the hardware and bandwidth? And if your software is now Open Source, any fool with a computer can be a competitor with a lower cost of entry and time to market. What have y
    • by fruscica (637745)
      ...a site for searching/navigating FOAF-encoded digital social networks. In particular, Go_Ogle will support searching along paths, Friendster-style, and global querying, SQL-style.

      As a result, the online dating revenue model will shift from subscriptions to advertising.

      So you are right to be pessimistic about subscription-based Friendster...

      Of course, Friendster could always embrace Go_Ogle, via 'Powered by Go_Ogle' search, in which case Friendster would keep 80% of the ad revenue, and likely elimina

    • there's no reason to take this seriously. especially when people start to ebay their network [ebay.com].
      large open source connected communities already exist, like livejournal.com (or deadjournal, or any of the other sites that run the code). there a lot of other journal/blog engines around as well, but LJ seems to have the largest active base, much larger than friendster. slash even has this capability, i just don't think it's used by most users. being able to search friends of friends, which seems to be the ma
  • salon (Score:5, Informative)

    by fishmonkey (301785) * on Thursday August 14, 2003 @07:56AM (#6693883) Journal
    There's a feature on the same topic at salon [salon.com]
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @07:57AM (#6693886)
    I am not really an 18 year old cheerleader desperate for sex, especially with older men and particularly when my girlfriends can join in.

    I am in fact a brussel sprout with time traveling capabilities.
  • by mikeophile (647318) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @07:59AM (#6693893)
    Is to charge money for the service.

    They are planning to do so anyway, the fakesters disruptions just give them a good reason to do so.

    Granted, it won't eliminate the fakers, but at least they will be paying for the privilege.

  • Good Idea... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by s.a.m (92412)
    Friendster is a really good idea. When a friend of mine sent me the link I thought it was another one of those dating sites. But it's really cool b/c you get to see who the friends of your friends are :)

    Sure not everyone posts their real name etc, but who cares? Since it's amoung friends then we all know who it is. I guess the problem is if someone joins randomly and starts to "make" friends then yeah we have problems there.

    But as always, there will be some sick bastards who try to screw up the system.
    • Re:Good Idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by White Shade (57215) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @09:53AM (#6694558)
      You have a point, but you're also missing the point just a little bit..

      It's more than just people not posting their real name, it's people who aren't even TRYING to be "people"... Instead it's people who (literally) use an abstract idea and then add lists of thousands of people to their friend lists.

      The problem is that this completley opposes the entire purpose of the website. The point of friendster is that if you find someone who is linked to one of your friends, and you think that you might want to meet them, you can be sure that they're a real person.. But, now, all these Fakesters come along and suddenly you have no idea who is a real person or not; all these 'people' that you're connected are in fact just random people who probably have no idea who they are anymore. Now all of a sudden the promise of knowing that you might be able to meet these real people is gone, and at that point why would you even bother going to the site, much less pay money for it?

      If these fakesters are allowed to spread, friendster will end up being full of 'networks' of completely artificial individuals, and all the real people will leave because they can't FIND any real people. Eventually these fakesters will get bored; there's only so long that you can be "Pure Evil", and everyone disappears, and the site collapses.

      Reading through the article I realize that these fakesters are making a huge fuss bout 'free speech' and 'censorship', using all the latest buzzwords and ideas, when in fact they are BREAKING THE RULES of the website. Friendster and it's ceo are COMPLETLEY justfied in what they are doing; they are trying to protect Friendster for the "real" people, and they are simply enforcing the rules which these fakesters are not exempt from. While I admit that they're being a bit heavy-handed about it, I see NO legitimate reason AT ALL for these fakesters to be pissed off because someone called them on the fact that they are *breaking the rules* and completely destroying the purpose of the website, which WILL eventually bring about it's destruction (who's gonna pay to add a bunch of 'jesus' and 'evil' and 'death' figured to their list?!). It's NOT a free speech issue; it's an issue of people breaking the rules in a way which they find amusing but will eventually destroy the entire system.

      The fakester interviewed in the article also mentions how they're "honest about being fake", as compared to these "really fake" people who like Adam Sandler. This argument is also complete bullshit; Plenty of people in real life are 'fake' and try to be something they're not; their lifestyle is to conform, and they end up dating and finding other people who follow the same conformity lifestyle... These are *REAL* people, following a specific lifestyle. These fakesters who are admitting flouting the rules have no right at all to make judgements about people whom they consider "fake"; they are the ones who are being honest, not the fakesters.

      So, to summarize; these fakesters are breaking the rules of the WEB SITE (not newspaper, not media outlet, not government agency, merely a dating website), and are using all the latest loaded terms to try and get people outraged about the fact that the website is merely enforcing it's rules. Friendster is there so you can meet people, not find nouns linked to thousands of other nouns. No one's gonna pay to link to nouns. Frienster is merely protecting itself, and looking out for the interests of it's target REAL audience, albiet in a fairly heavy handed way.

      I guess it just goes to show you how screaming 'free speech' is all that it takes to get a crowd of people to ignore blatant violations of policy and actions which will result in the destruction of the entire medium anyway.
  • by adzoox (615327) * on Thursday August 14, 2003 @08:04AM (#6693915) Journal
    Have any of you ever been to Yahoo Personals and looked at the personal/matchmaking ads? More than 50% of them are fake. Match.com isn't as bad, but I'd estimate 25% easily.

    Most of them are just ways for creeps to harvest your email address for PrOn SPAM emails. I have even been told by a local strip club owner (work with his Mac and sound system) that his girls get on match.com and entice guys to come in all the time; that it's a requirement of the job.

    I wish Yahoo and Match would police their ads better - sometime there's such a thorough or a good writer that it's hard to know whether or not they are a real person or not. Usually you can tell by the picture; model poses.

  • by TommyH1000 (686159) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @08:05AM (#6693921)
    Similar problems have faced other sites, such as the old Love@AOL. A friend of mine used to work in that department years ago. For the longest time, someone had a personal ad posted with their pictures being John Candy in drag from the movie Nothing But Trouble [imdb.com]. I'm pretty sure it was taken down once someone figured it out.

    Before that happened, someone tried to post a picture of a Cardassian from Star Trek. Turned out the guy was an extra on Deep Space 9, but they still wouldn't let him post the picture in his profile.

    The point being, there always has to be some regulation at a site like Friendster, otherwise it can't be used for its original purpose. I'm not going to waste time trying to track down old friends or expand my circle of friends just to get an email saying "The Brooklyn Bridge wants to meet you".

  • It might take a bit more time but implementing a the principle of slash dot might do the trick
  • by tage (14671) <tage@tPOLLOCKbef.se minus painter> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @08:10AM (#6693941) Homepage
    Who cares about "fake" members? Friendster, probably. And some journalist who can't find a better story. Yahoo and others don't seem to. This is just what Friendster wants and needs: media coverage to get new members. Hopefully more "real" members and not as many "fakes".
    • Who cares about "fake" members? Friendster, probably. And some journalist who can't find a better story.

      I don't know what Friendster's infrastructure is, but on a relational database doing the sorts of queries they do (finding multiple paths through networks in near real-time) would be pretty heavy - even with a professional RDBMS like Oracle. Most real people have a few dozen friends linked, but the fakers often have hundreds. If serving pages belonging to fakers means Friendster needs more hardware, th
  • P2P (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nrlightfoot (607666)
    Someone should make a peer to peer chat program where you link up in the same manner as on friendster.
  • "Sir, are you classified as human."

    "Uh, negative. I am a meat popsicle."
  • by hrieke (126185) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @08:48AM (#6694073) Homepage
    But outside of that, I think he is right to setup the rules for his site and operate his site the way that he wants to.

  • by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @08:54AM (#6694121)
    Geek discussion site seeks similar for karma wh0ring and meaningful flaming. Interests include Linux, not paying for stuff, and sticking one over on The Man. Dislikes include Microsoft, the RIAA and SCO. Please include a recent screenshot in your reply. All respondents must be compatible with Mozilla 1.4.
  • by xThinkx (680615) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @09:10AM (#6694231) Homepage

    So what's the difference between friendster "fakesters" and real life fakesters? Think about it. In a bar there are always a few guys in there who are working it hard to be someone they're not, sometimes not even using their real names, they're often the ones surrounded by the simple-minded blondes who are attracted to their feaux persona. Same goes for friendster. Moving on, imagine if someone walked into a bar wearing a giant Oscar Meyer Weiner costume, immediately he would become the topic of conversation and a good number of people would approach him and become his "friend". This is the same thing that happens on friendster.

    So maybe this phenomenon is a little more rampant because the anonymity of the internet allows people to drop a few inhibitions, but the concept is the same. Randomly deleting fakesters is a bad idea. The concept of charging for the service seems to be somewhat of a better idea. I know most of the /.ers will complain "it should be free" yadda yadda yadda, heard it all before. It would be nice if it were free, but I'm sure the folks who work for friendster would like a paycheck. Now, $8 a month seems a little high for friendster, if it were like $2, or even $5 I might consider paying for the service. Regardless, $8 a month is pretty good way to ensure the friendsters and fakesters who really serve some sort of purpose.

    And just to piss of the Friendster folks...http://www.friendster.com/user.jsp?id=2339 91 [friendster.com] last name, McGuire :).

  • First if you're not supporting the stated aim of the service (you can't date a city or a dead person,) you're history.

    Second if you insist on attempting to twist the service into something its not, why don't you spend the fifty bucks to buy a url, start your own site and stop defacing somebody else's.

    Third people who try to force themselves on others are often called rapists and its against the law. I'm sure some deprivation of civil rights lawsuit could be brought to bear.

    Come to think of it I'd like to
  • by el_gregorio (579986) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @09:24AM (#6694355)
    The article claims that fakesters become hubs of activity by linking to as many people as possible. So why doesn't the developer just make a change to the software so the linked person has to confirm the connection?

    it could even be taken farther: have the software keep track of how many people have rejected your link. if it's more than 10, that's a pretty good bet that you're a fakester that can be modded down. or maybe you're just an asshole that no one likes, which is still a good reason to be modded to oblivion.

  • i've seen some fakesters that were genuinely amusing and entertaining. on a large scale however, they really do fsck up the system.

    i'm not saying we should be able to count on the absolute validity of the 'relationships' represented on the site, but SOME kind reality makes it a whole lot more useful and fun... and they're kind of hurting their friends who are really trying to use the site by diluting and obfuscating the branching nature of the database.

    i like friendster. and i would hate to see it turn

  • ...intrigued by Blade Runner, which, he says, he's seen more than 100 times.

    Yes, it's a good movie and all that.

    But anyone that sees a movie that many times makes me kind of nervous.

    I definitely wouldn't invite such a person out to go shoot handguns or anything.

    • I dunno - got Blade Runner DVD on a shelf and I'm sure I've seen it like hundreds of times too. Only watched it maybe three or four times, but seen it every time I walk by. Maybe the guy is just an off-duty lawyer who likes making people nervous.
      Actually, suddenly, I agree with you. I definitely would not date an off-duty lawyer.
  • Hubs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TrippTDF (513419)
    Now, the fakesters are whatever-

    The thing that I do like about friendster is the people that have set up "hubs". For example, someone created a profile for my college (Bennington), and increasingly, people from my school become friends with that profile. It's a great way to reconnect, since it creates a common hub for people.

    I've also seen nodes for other schools, religions, countries and whatnot.

    Those should be allowed to stay- or, integrate the idea into the system a little bit more.
  • by Lejade (31993) <olivier.mekensleep@com> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @09:56AM (#6694576) Homepage Journal
    Just like the Internet, the Free & Open Source Software community, Slashdot, Sharereactor or your average MMOG.

    And like in any social network, you have the "mainstream" and the "fringe" folks.
    Call them "Fakesters", "Trolls", "Leeches", "Role Players" or "PKers", the "fringe" always has a different set of values and beliefs (v&bs). Which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing as they can often be very entertaining/interesting/though provoking.

    However problems may arise when the v&bs of the fringe come in direct conflict with the v&bs of the community at large while, at the same time, the "mainstream" doesn't have the means to isolate itself from the behavior of the "fringe".

    Friendster-the-company should have designed a way for the "Friendsters" to isolate the behavior of "Fakesters" without having to delete them. Something like the moderation system on slashdot. Maybe it's still possible to modify the social rules of this particular network and maybe it's too late and any deep change would kill it.

    In any case, what this story illustrates once again is that designing software for social networks is hard.
    As hard as dealing with humans can be...

  • by evanhr (610024) <evanNO@SPAMstanries.com> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @10:02AM (#6694624) Homepage
    I've been saying this to anyone who will listen for months now: being connected to random lunatics who happen to also like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man just as one of my actual friends does is not valuable or interesting.

    There's no reason this isn't equivalent to spamming Friendster. What's going to stop "Viagra" or "UltraMegaPenis supplements" from joining up and making 'friends'?

  • Friendster Groups (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yelohbird (658476)
    One of the biggest problems with this arbitrary deleting of accounts is that they are also deleting the accounts which represent groups/institutions people may belong to. For example, I added a "friend" which represented the college I attend, and it had been deleted recently due to this cleanup. I have met several people from my own school whom I would otherwise not have known existed due to this connection, and that account was deleted because it did not represent a real-live human being. My friend was
  • I'm sorry, but there's no way in hell I'm going to pay for a service like this, not to mention at a price that could get me standard dialup internet access. I hope someone makes a free version of this. WITH a moderation system. Then it'll start to get interesting. What would be even more interesting is if you could search for people based on their physical features in the image. Yeah yeah the obvious jokes aside...if I'm looking for brunettes, and don't like blondes (to each his own) I could filter bas
  • If you are being annoyed by a gang of 12 year old's damaging your
    fence and being a nuisance then asking them to stop, chasing them
    around and trying to take away their football with not do you any
    good. They will get back at you by acting like kids and setting
    your fence on fire. You have no real power over them.

    Abram's is dealing with bunch of people with a mental age of 12.
    Abrams would be better off taking a more subtle approach.
    Make the site go .... really .....really.....slooooow ... for
    fakers. Set up fak
  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @11:40AM (#6695628)

    About time. Fauxsters, and the people who link with them, have seriously diluted the usefulness of Frienster as a social device.

    If I see an interesting profile of someone who knows a friend of mine, that's a legitimate social connection. But if the chain of relationships goes through "Mr. T", "New York City", and "Sex", it means nothing.

    I do worry that actual celebrities might get incorrectly labeled as fake and have their accounts deleted. I've come across a few minor celebrities in my network (the Snickers voiceover guy, the Pets.com sockpuppet) and although mutual acquaintances have confirmed to me that they are who they are, it would be easy for a Friendster Cleanup Agent to assume it was fraudulent.
  • by thedbp (443047) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @01:26PM (#6696663)
    I will say that I've seen very funny, very entertaining fake profiles. Like Christopher Walken. And he's got like 400 friends. That profile probably serves to connect people who otherwise never would be ...

    and that's good AND bad. For the purposes of Friendster, for it to be what its creators and a lot of its users WANT it to be, these fakesters really do fsck up the system. There's no real chain of communication. You can't go to your friend's friend and say "What an ass!" or "Damn s/he is awesome!" cuz there's no real logical connection if it is thru one of these fake profiles.

    I think the fakesters are abusing the system and watering down the experience and intent. I also think that they are obfuscating a very neat idea of building a semi-accountable community of people that can really trace thru who they know all these myriad individuals around the world.

    The Fakesters may add flair, but ultimately they dilute any value it has.

    Now, do I support deleting these Fakesters? No - but there must be a way to cap the account in some way, i.e. make it impossible for someone to add friends with or to these fake accounts. This would solve the problem of bad relationship data while at the same time not putting valid profiles at risk.

    But y'know, in the long run, its their site, their bandwidth, their service - they can delete who they want, and if your actual profile gets deleted by accident, then be pissed at the fakesters who created the situation in the first place.

    Just my 2

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