everyone else is doing it, and may I interest you in some replica watches?

Anyone know who Liz Allen is? I don’t. She, or the nefarious spammer robot hackery person behind her programming wants me to be her friend on Facebook, I guess.* But I think Facebook really wants me to be her friend — and others’ — on Facebook.

facebook_peer_pressureThere are a few names on the peer pressure org chart shown here I know well, a few I recognize but have only had limited contact with via email, and a few that are complete mysteries to me. I guess it’s not a problem that these people all have my email address. I mean, I gave it to them (at least the ones I recognize). I don’t even really have a problem with people letting services like Facebook and flickr and dopplr and many others mine their contacts from other services. Indeed, I have done that on occasion as well (like when I finally caved and joined LinkedIn a few months ago — still scratching my head on that one).

But what’s the result of that? Through replication, eventually my email address and relationship to users allowing this sort of contact mining is known to organizations with which I (at least initially) wanted nothing to do, all over the big cloud of replicated contact lists. And if these services become vulnerable to manipulation, as apparently was the case here, is that a problem? I keep looking for the harm here, because something seems extra creepy about a spammy email message with pictures of people I know in it, but I can’t find anything more harmful than yet another kind of spam to watch for in my email.

Besides, were I to cave in and become a Facebook user, what is the risk of becoming Liz Allen’s friend? Or what does the hackery person get out of me becoming Liz Allen’s friend, anyway? Is there a hope that I will become her friend and then lend “her” money for her uncle, the deposed West African nobleman? Visit “her” website and get tricked into divulging my bank details or downloading a trojan horse? I guess if just a handful of the thousands of Liz Allen’s potential new friends fall prey to that sort of thing, it’s a big payoff to “her.”

*Liz, if you are a real person, drop me more than a line via my email address, which you obviously already know, and remind me why I should recognize your name and/or picture. I assume, however, from your terse “personal message” as part of the Facebook invitation you sent me, that this plea will fall on deactivated audio sensors.