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Bebo’s “Invite Your Friends” a tad aggressive

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As competing social networks vie for my attention, I notice that the email outreach campaigns have kicked into gear. Maybe they want to catch the kids before they head out for Summer vacation but it seems like all the services I signed up for back when I was doing some research are reaching out for some love.

I just received Issue 1 of Bebo’s email newsletter, Spotlight. Among a couple other new features including a Facebook Status clone, they also are promoting an “invite your friends” feature. I’ve seen this on a number of services including LinkedIn and it is often included in the sign up flow as a way to quickly bring along all your friends (and so on, and so on, just like the old shampoo commercial).

Basically the service uses your Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, or GMail address book and compares it to their membership database to see if they’ve got a match and prompts you to connect with people you already may know. Bebo takes this one step further by then listing up all of the friends of people in your address book.

In my mind this is going a little bit too far. I don’t really want to know about all the people I *might* want to connect to because they happen to be friends with people that happen to be in my online address book. It’s a bit shocking to see who some of these second degree characters are and I feel like I’m taking a quick peek and rifling through someone’s black book.

I know, you could get at this information anyway by browsing their profile and checking out their friends but it somehow doesn’t seem as bad if you’re browsing around. When it’s one huge data dump with a “check all” box, it just feels wrong.