Recommendation or Spam?!

As part of my PhD I am interested in investigating the effect of spam in pub-sub and how to use social networks to minimize amount of delivered spam in MANETs. Recently I came across an article about Facebook starting their ‘Social Advertising‘. The idea is putting your face on advertisements for products that you like.

For example, a Facebook user who rents a movie on will be asked if he would like to have his movie choice broadcast out to all his friends on Facebook. And those friends would have no Microsoft Office Home Business 2013 best price choice but to receive that movie message, along with an ad from Blockbuster.

Facebook says that many of its 50 million active users already tell friends about particular products or brands they like, and the only change will be that those communications might start to carry ad messages from the companies that sell them. Facebook is letting advertisers set up their own profile pages at no charge and encouraging companies like Blockbuster, Conde Nast and Coca-Cola to share information with Facebook about the actions of Facebook members on their sites.

Facebook users will not be able to avoid these personally recommended ads if they are friends with participating people. Participation can involve joining a fan club for a brand, recommending a product or sharing information about their purchases from external Web sites.

Although I agree the idea of sharing information with your friends is very useful but at the same time it can potentially create too much spam. So the question is that, are recommendations going to be new labels for spamming?

You can find the main article by Louise Story in here

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6 Responses to “Recommendation or Spam?!”

  1. Neal Lathia says:

    I think that one of the problems here is explained in this paper Is Britney Spears Spam? So, as you said, some people in my social network might not want to hear about my latest blockbuster rental; they would classify it as spam. Other people, however, may be interested in that information. After all, editorial movie/music/product reviews are present in the media because people value that information. Social networks are simply a medium for every individual to become a “reviewer,” and perhaps the people around me will value my opinion.. after all, they are my friends!

    The main point is that in this scenario the definition of what constitutes spam becomes subjective, and the spam filters should operate accordingly. A similar example is facebook’s latest digg-like attempt at customising each user’s newsfeed.

    It is also arguable that a product endorsement by one of my connections does not constitute a recommendation ;) just like one of my friends wearing a brand X t-shirt is not a recommendation for me to wear one too; the true recommendation comes from a (query-less) search by the user that is responded to with results that are tailored to his/her tastes (me going into a clothes shop, looking at t-shirts, and being recommended brand X). Maybe the question is- are advertisements recommendations? I don’t think so- they are broadcast out to people who fit into categories, not made for only me.


  2. I commeted the paper Neal mentioned on my old blog. I just copied that post on

    Also, MySpace has joined the fray

    Since there are many privacy issues there, I would expect that Ian Brown will pick on that soon ;-)
    (Ian’s web page)

  3. At IIIA, there is Adrian (Perreau de Pinninck Bas) who is also working on the problem of preventing spam in a distributed setting. I’ll forward him this post – probably he has something published he may want to share.

  4. Hi there,

    I am also doing my phd in preventing potentially unwanted messages from being delivered. I also believe that spam is highly subjective.

    My approach is a bit different from the one in the article quoted about Britney. Messages can be delivered to any friend-of-a-friend, as long as all of the friends in the path are willing to forward the message. The message recipient can complain about the message if it deems it to be spam. All the friends which forwarded the message are informed about the complain so that they can do a better job at forwarding messages in the future, by filtering the messages from senders which receive many complaints.

    As you can see the whole point here is that you do not want to make direct connections to anyone fast, because then there are no intermediate friends that could filter spam messages from them. I am still working on a complete model of the social network. But if you want to see the work that led to this idea, you can check my website.

  5. Ian Brown says:

    Hi – I think that these “social ads” are indeed intrusive (and will cause many Facebook users to pay less attention to their news feed – I know I have). However, I think that Facebook’s mining of user personal data to target ads is the bigger privacy invasion. Speaking of which, I just deleted all of my interests from my profile :)

  6. “Privacy advocates declared victory after Facebook, the social networking website, moved to placate users concerned about the intrusiveness of its new Beacon advertising system” FT