Friendster automatically re-inviting your friends

Posted on December 16, 2007

I have joined a fair number of social networking websites, primarily to see how each works differently. I rarely send invites through these websites, although I did a number of years ago when I initially joined Friendster.

Now I realize why that was a bad idea, because Friendster re-invites those individuals on an automated basis. It's clearly spelled out in the privacy policy:

Friendster stores this email address for the purpose of: (i) automatically adding the respondent to the "friends list" of the Member sending the invitation; (ii) sending reminders of the invitation and (iii) sending emails on recent updates by the Member on Friendster to the Member's invited friend.

To me, Friendster is stepping out of bounds with this. If I invite a friend, I don't think they should be inundated by continued emails. If I send you an invitation to a party, and don't respond, do you think you would respond after I send another three or four? Furthermore, the emails sent to your invitees appear to be coming from YOUR email address, not Friendster, which makes it seem that you are spamming your friends with Friendster messages.

The biggest surprise is that even if you just imported your address book to send invites, but never actually sent them, Friendster sends them on a periodic basis. I know this because I have in my address book. Would I ever invite this email address to join Friendster? I suppose if I were really desperate for friends, maybe. I know that Friendster is sending emails on my behalf because I received an auto-response from that contained the original Friendster auto-invite. Another friend who I never invited to Friendster also forwarded the recent email she received.

"If you invite someone to join your friends network on Friendster, they'll receive an email invitation," says Jeff Roberto, Friendster's director of PR and marketing, in a recent email. "If they do not join Friendster, they'll receive two email reminders over the next 60 days (and they can opt-out at any time). Additionally, if you are active on Friendster in a given week (updating your profile, adding a photo, updating your blog, etc.), they will receive a "What's New with You" email sharing your recent activity with them (remember, these only go to people that you know - you have invited them to join you on Friendster - and that have a "pending invite" still active in your account on Friendster). They can opt-out of that email at any time, and you can delete their "pending invite" to also stop the process."

Roberto also states that if you upload your address book and do not invite specific individuals to join Friendster, nothing will ever be sent to those users. I've requested additional information regarding why some of my uninvited email addresses have been sent automatic emails, but Roberto still says that those addresses must have been invited at some point.

If you have a Friendster account, you should remove everyone from your invite list. Also, I think it's worth putting pressure on Friendster to change its privacy policy to not send out automatic invitations. I'm surprised no one has experienced this issue before, but I have a feeling that if the company doesn't address it, they won't have a site much longer worth inviting people to.

I've sent my email to Friendster. Click here to send a similar email to the social networking site.