Dirty Invites: Every Social Network’s Problem

Today I’d like to introduce a new internet term in the web 2.0 world:

Dirty InviteDirty Invite (noun): An email invite from a social network via a friend whom got “coerced” into importing their contacts and sending an invite to join the social network.

This happened to me with the social bookmarking site StumbleUpon, which helps you find web sites that relate to your interests via community suggestions.

After importing my Yahoo! Mail contacts, StumbleUpon shows you how many friends are already members and gives you the option of inviting them to your network (screenshot below). Plus, the site allows you to invite friends that aren’t on the network (orange highlighted section). At first glance, you might think, “wow..that is really convenient”.

StumbleUpon - Find your Friends on StumbleUpon-1

However, what happened to me is I didn’t notice the “select all” (highlighted in yellow) and focused on the check-boxes next to each email address. Of the 60 friends listed, I selected the ones that I wanted in my network. For my friends that weren’t members of StumbleUpon I made sure to verify the check-box next to their names was not selected. However, the select all check-box was! What happened next? 1727 email addresses were sent invitations to StumbleUpon!! I was shocked when I started receiving out of office away messages from people I didn’t invite! Completely unacceptable! This is a devious tactic by StumbleUpon to get new users and is similar to companies who leave the opt-in box checked during the sign-up process hoping users overlook that part of the page.

Bottom line, users need clear and concise design with succinct instructions when it comes to their management of their contacts within social networks. StumbleUpon, by designing their pages like this is a step back in building trust for their brand and product. If you had similar issues with inviting your friends to a social network or even the same problem with StumbleUpon add a comment.

-DJ Ksar

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