A controversy is brewing over a popular Facebook application called PackRat, where users collect sets of illustrated cards for points and levels. The company behind the application, Alamofire, says that users generate up to 500 daily page views per day on the application trying to hunt down the right card to complete a collection.
A big part of the game is “stealing” cards from friends, and so a lot of users add other users as friends so that their cards can be obtained. The application’s popularity has also led some users to create Facebook accounts for the sole purpose of playing the game.
Some of those accounts are now being disabled by Facebook, according to this discussion forum on the application site.
What’s curious is the email sent from Facebook to one deleted user, which states that Facebook isn’t a social network (it’s a “social utility”) and isn’t meant to build large groups of new friends. Instead, Facebook is meant to reinforce “pre-existing” social connections:
Please note that Facebook accounts are meant for authentic usage only. This means that we expect accounts to reflect mainly “real-world” contacts (i.e. your family, schoolmates, co-workers, etc.), rather than mainly “internet-only” contacts. As stated on our home page, Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you, not a “social networking site”. It is meant to help reinforce pre-existing social connections, not build large groups of new ones. If this is in direct contrast to what you expected as legitimate Facebook usage, I apologize for any confusion. This is simply the intention behind the site.
Thanks for your understanding,
It’s true that Facebook has stated clearly that their intention is to be a sort of mirror to the real world social graph. But it’s unavoidably true that new friendships are made on the site, too. Even friendships forged for the sole purpose of playing a game made by a third party developer.
Even former Facebook President Sean Parker (and current stockholder) said recently at TechCrunch50 that he had far more Facebook friends than real world friends.
Facebook’s real message here may be “please don’t make fake accounts just to play this game,” but that isn’t what they’re saying. I’ve emailed them for clarification.