So you are leaving Facebook after Mark's zombie attacked yours, Mary sent you a smooch and Martine beat you at rock-paper-scisors... The fact of the matter is, the viral nature of some mini-applications make them outstanding examples of friend spamming. Some, like Slide's audio-visual widgets, suggest you share the mini applications with all of your friends. Well, you can kiss a bunch of those friends goodbye if you continuously send them aliens for their solar systems, fish for their aquariums or armadillos for their petting zoos.
It is called Application Spamming and the worst offenders require that you alienate your friends with chain letter efficiency after strafing them with a succession of assault apps. These should not be confused with the true widget, which appears to act independently of social utilities and environments (for now).
If you have a draggable chunk of web usability that you can drop almost anyplace on your page without being asked to send it to your "friends", it could/should be described as a widget. Of course, I am bypassing the tech aspect of code implementation and platform management in favor of loose paraphrasing and simple ideas. :)Let's say that you also have a moveable block of web functionality that when you use it it prompts you to send some of the fun you are having in your friends' directions. "Select all of the friends you want to _______." This would fall into the category of friend spamming. Now that you know the difference, how are social utilities like Facebook battling the attack of the time-killing (and email clogging) apps?
According to Mike Arrington:
"First, users can block applications when they receive a request, so no additional requests from that app will get through. Second, they added a “clear all” requests feature that erases all pending requests (my new favorite, and most used, Facebook feature). Also, Facebook is watching how many people block or ignore application requests - too many, and an application has restrictions placed on it."
So there you have it. Where popups continue to be employed by the faceless ne'er do wells of the Web and spam continues to be blasted out to every permutation of an email address, it seems that the social utilities and networks may just be trying to get it right this time. Time will tell if it will make a difference in the user exodus that is starting to decrease the number of new users joining social networks per diem.
One thing you should remember though... The application spamming going on is not the result of an insideous breed of Assault Widgets as much as developers wanting to spread their application seeds like dandelion fluffs.