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February 13, 2009

Are you a Facebook friend padder?

Posted: 10:57 AM ET

Anyone who's spent much time on Facebook knows somebody who pads their roster of online "friends" with dozens, if not hundreds, of people they don't really know. It's human nature, I guess - we all want to appear more popular than we really are.

Collecting "friends" on Facebook can have its limits.

But did you know there's apparently a limit to how rapidly you can add friends on Facebook?

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn recently began contacting random strangers on the popular social-networking site as part of an experiment to see how quickly he could acquire 1,000 new Facebook friends.

After Zorn had sent 180 friend requests in less than an hour, an automated note from Facebook popped up on his screen warning him to stop or he'd be kicked off the site. So he did. Then he wrote a column about it.

I'm all for exposing egregious "friend padders" as the transparently insecure showoffs they probably are. And Facebook is supposed to be an online gathering place, not a popularity contest. (For the record, I currently have 196 Facebook friends, most of them casual acquaintances and a dozen or so people I barely know.)

Facebook says it sets "friend-gathering" rate limits to protect users from spam. But cracking down on how fast someone can add friends seems misguided and hypocritical. After all, doesn't the site encourage friend-gathering by suggesting other Facebook users that you or your friends might know?

And what if someone with loads of actual, genuine friends joins Facebook and immediately starts contacting them - shouldn't they be allowed to go from zero to 200 friends in a matter of hours if they want to?

What do you think?

- Brandon Griggs, CNN.com

Filed under: Internet


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