Friendster Feature Controversy

Posted on October 14, 2005

Wired reports that a new feature on Friendster, a blogging and social network service that competes with, has upset some Friendster users.

The feature called "Who's Viewed Me?" allows Friendster members to see who has visited their profile. Apparently, many Friendster users prefer to browse Friendster anonymously.

The profile-view logs were already being collected; this feature just makes them public. Only profile views logged after the feature was activated will be made public, and an initial snafu on the first day that allowed users to see old profile views was quickly fixed, Kwon said.

Yas Raouf, a student at UC Berkeley's Boalt School of Law, would have appreciated some advance notice -- she deleted her Friendster profile right after finding out about the feature.

An implicit rule of Friendster was that people would anonymously surf each others' profiles, she said, and by changing that, Friendster altered the game. She's also angered by the fact that she would have had to turn on an anonymous browsing feature to stop her viewing habits from being shared.

Laurel at Old Fashioned Doughnuts called the new Friendster feature creepy:

Before you were just able to see the number of people who have viewed you, but now you can click a button and see the faces and names of the people who have checked you out. I don't know how I feel about this feature. I was always flattered to see the number of people who viewed my profile but now that I can see who they are, it's feels strange.

Human4Human called the Friendster change "important news" and she was able to discover who was reading her profile.

also, important news: friendster has exposed everyone as viewers. everyone can see who viewed them. but then i was upset b/c only 8 (but now 9) people viewed me and 23! people viewed jenny. but then i looked to see who viewed me and it was colleen from MA!! omg. so i wrote her an email that said "ha! you viewed me. i knew you wanted to be my friend!". because she totally pretends to not care about me. now i know the truth.

Friendster does now allow members to browse anonymously by going into their account settings and selecting the "Yes, I would like to view profiles anonymously and not show up on other users' 'Who's Viewed Me' list" option.

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