[from a Friendster Bulletin Board]
Date: August 6, 2003 12:23 AM
Subject: Warning: I Am A Big Loser
Hello my dear friendsters,
I recently penned a rant against friendster, advocating a sort of poll tax rebellion. A friend of mine informed me that their payment structure might allow users to remain on friendster without charge, but that they could charge to add new friends to your network and for other functions. This is devious, tricky, and skillful on their part if true.
The form of resistance, then, has to take this into account. I would still be ready to join a mass exodus, but it is now doubtful whether that will occur as spontaneously as I originally imagined.
There are many options open to us for potentially effective collective action, ranging from abstention to physical or electronic sit-ins, lockdowns, public relations subversion and other sabotage, counter-media, well coordinated email
or petition campaigns, anti-friendster websites, promotion or creation of an alternative competitor, and so much more. We could pie someone in the face or lock our necks to the doors of Evil Friendster Technocrat HQ as a publicity stunt. It is clear that the technocrats are too hubristic to take any heed of our desires, and see us merely as a herd of cattle to be milked for their profit.
However, if we are to take any action, we would have to discuss and plan it in a secure forum (which this clearly is not), and we should attempt to agree on clear goals and demands.
For goals, I would tentatively suggest:
(1) Given that the friendster corporate technocrats lured us into this addictive little electronic fantasyland, and now are attempting a bait-and-switch scam on us en masse, we should summon the collective will to assert our right to exist as a community. Just because someone else built the city you live in does not mean they or their heirs get to dictate your conditions of life, or to arbitrarily cast you into exile.
(2) Should Goal #1 fail, I suggest we tear the sucker down. In fact, we must be prepared for this in order to be taken seriously enough to attain Goal #1. The technocrats have used us to build a community they intend to parasitically profit from. They already profit from massive free word of mouth and press publicity. They already run advertising, which has to be making them piles of money. Just as our word of mouth, time, energy, and unique personalities made friendster, we can just as easily unmake it if their profits cut into our community. If we can�t retake our city from its tyrannical architects and urban planners, we should empty it as we collectively flee to a safer and freer haven, possibly even one of our own creation.
(3) This is simply a personal goal. I want to keep it fun, or drop it and walk away (if it comes to that, though, I would like to walk away with several thousand others). I don�t intend to throw my entire life into this struggle. This entire friendster fantasyland is a fun diversion, a sort of game. However, there are very real issues at stake, regarding what is appropriately common and what is appropriately private, rights of a community vs. plundering parasites, intellectual property (who owns my profile, me or friendster?) and so forth. It�s a game worth winning.
For demands I would suggest:
(1) All basic user functions must remain free of charge – including adding friends, sending messages, account creation, posting bulletins, uploading photos, and so on.
I would be willing to accept restrictions – like a tighter, but reasonable, limit to the number of times one may use each of these functions per day (they could then offer perks that would allow more use for a fee). In addition, there are a number of ways by which the friendster technocrats could make mad cash � job listings where the prospective employers pay to post, perks users could pay for that are nice but fully optional (like the option not to have to see advertising), merchandising like hats and t-shirts, and other tried and true web revenue methods. I, for one, can�t and won�t pay for anything on this or any similar website. Tribes.net states its commitment to making its service free to users. It is certainly possible, as has been proven by the majority of successful (non-porn and non-specialist/academic) websites.
(2) The establishment of user rights for �fakesters� � parody or homage profiles of celebrities, religious figures, philosophers, abstract concepts, clothes, bands, fictional or mythic characters, martyrs, pop culture icons, household items, and the like. All existing fakesters should be left intact, recognizing the creative rights of their authors and creators � as Roy has more thoroughly discussed in relation to fair use, parody, and intellectual property. All users should be allowed to create and maintain fakesters.
I personally would be comfortable with a limit to the number of fakesters allowed to each real person, and there are many ways this could be verified (as is currently done by many websites). This would be a basic user function, but, again, one could pay for more extensive use of this function.
(3) The friendster ruling class has begun arbitrarily deleting real user profiles, as well as fakesters. They have refused to comment on why, after repeated inquiries, but it seems to be happening to people with a large number of friends in their network. This must stop immediately.
(4) Accountability and the right of appeal. Anyone deleting or suspending profiles must be justified and answerable to the community of users. All deleted and suspended profiles must be reinstated until such a standard is met.
The bulletin board forum here is far from ideal for this sort of conversation, for reasons of utility as well as security. The bulletin board isn�t a very good forum for an ongoing discussion among many participants. Also, if we want to change friendster, we have to be able to discuss and plan strategy freely, away from the prying eyes of the friendster overlords and their technocrats. As such, these are just some preliminary thoughts of mine.
I�ve been told about a Yahoo Group called Friendster Revolution. It would certainly be a preferable forum. I just joined. I�m going to post this screed on there, too. I would appreciate it if any responses intended to be a constructive part of this dialogue could be posted there, instead of sent to me alone. The web address is: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FriendsterRevolution The email address to subscribe is: FriendsterRevolutionfirstname.lastname@example.org
Sorry for my lack of concision. I�ve done my best.
In love and insurrection
p.s. I was deluged with new friend requests after I posted my last bulletin on this subject. I added a ton of them and rejected many more, but I am not a �friend collector� seeking to maximize my connections. I do have some fakester friends, but they are all things I really like a lot. I want my friend network to be made up of people I really know in some capacity, or fakesters I can�t resist. Please don�t be offended if I reject your add friend request, or delete you. Feel free to send me a personal message, if you like.
p.p.s. Of course, feel free to copy and repost this if you like. I wrote it, it�s mine, and what�s mine is yours. Do as you will. All property, especially intellectual property, is theft.