NOTE: My statements are not necessarily my opinions. I often post point-counterpoint essays in which I strongly take one side of an issue and later counter that with antithetical views. This intellectual exercise helps me see the merit in opposing opinions and augments my creativity.

Tired of threatening messages from Facebook when sending friend requests?

So am I. If you try to connect with more than a few people you don't personally know, you will soon see a warning message like one of the following:

Facebook friend request can't be sent

Typical threatening message from Facebook
To protect the identity of the person I was sending a friend request to, I deleted their name and photo and substituted a picture of a model, as in the Facebook image below.

If you click the Help Center link, you'll be told that “Facebook is a place for connecting with friends, family and other people you know personally.”

Ridiculous! I connect with people I know personally via e-mail, phone, and speaking with them in the same room. I don't need a quirky, bug-infested, exasperating site such as Facebook to connect with existing friends. Like almost everyone else who uses Facebook, I use it to connect with like-minded individuals for networking and to forge new friendships. If Facebook doesn't understand this, they're even more backwards than I imagine.

Now let's think about this logically for a second—something the Facebook brass apparently never has done. It is very easy to differentiate spammers from legitimate users. If someone used Facebook for hundreds to thousands of hours without triggering others to report spammer-like behavior, one can safely conclude that user is not a spammer, so threatening to brand him or her as one for sending a friend request is pointless—even idiotic. Connecting with people you don't know is the primary way that Facebook attracts new users and encourages existing users to spend more time on that site. Who would discourage behavior that is the cornerstone of their business growth? An imbecile.

In contrast, spammers waste no time in encouraging people to view their webcams. None of my thousands of Facebook friends ever used the word “webcam,” but virtually every bimbo who sends me a friend request has that word plastered all over her wall. Any computer programmer with a room-temperature IQ and a smidgen of common sense could easily distinguish Wendy Webcam from Tea Party Tim, so labeling friend requests as spam strongly suggests the minds of Facebook programmers are filled with cobwebs, not bright ideas.

Incontrovertible evidence of incipient dementia, or garden-variety stupidity?

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As a doctor, I am trained to quickly assess cognitive performance. Within seconds, I can tell if someone is bright with an abundant reservoir of brilliance or camouflaging their deficits with robotic dialogue that misleads most laymen into thinking that because the person in question can still concatenate words into sentences, he or she still possesses an intact intellect. People who are mentally slipping, or never had much brainpower in the first place, often employ logic that is anything but logical.

I've seen clear-cut evidence of third-rate minds at work when Facebook tempts me with a friend suggestion and I send a friend request to that person, only to be curtly told that my request cannot be sent because the user has too many friends.

Sheesh! If that person did indeed have too many friends (or friend requests—yet another Facebook flaw), the logical thing is obviously to not display that person to others as a friend suggestion. As a computer programmer, I know this is easy to implement, requiring only rudimentary programming and logical skills, yet Facebook can't do it. Go figure.

More Facebook follies

I went to accept a friend request, but was not permitted to do that because the person “already has too many friends.”

Logic? None.

I wanted to accept another friend request and was given the following advice from Facebook:

Facebook confirm friend request

Oh my word! If I accepted only people I already know, my friend list would be so small that I wouldn't need Facebook to connect with them. Does anyone need such tutelage?

No. Facebook wastes its time—and our time—on such inane messages, but it fails to give users tools that could quickly help them assess whether they want to accept or deny a friend request.

The “We're #1, so we can slack off” recipe for failure

I know what Facebook is arrogantly thinking: “We're Facebook. We're #1 in social networking. We can be as exasperating as we want and our users will have to put up with our myriad bugs and bizarrely illogical ways of doing things.”

Since Facebook is so fond of warnings, I'll give one to the Facebook brass: Remember MySpace? It was once King of the Social Networking Hill, and now it's a pathetic has-been. Its users tired of its flaws and moved on. Users will migrate away from Facebook, too. The critical mass of discontentment already exists, but rather than trying to extinguish it, Facebook leaders are fueling the fire by insulting its users and subjecting them to a conceptually and technically flawed site. Brilliant!

A challenge to the mental midgets at Facebook

If you truly wanted users to send friend requests only to people they personally know, how could you block all friend requests from strangers even if you don't know who knows who?

This requires only a bit of Yankee ingenuity, but I suspect it will forever remain an unsolved mystery for the Facebook brass who have more money than brains and an unwillingness to use some of that money to hire people with brains. Instead, we get programmers who pat themselves on the back for annoying legitimate users with threats while Wendy Webcam works overtime.

Related topics:

Understanding how Facebook determines what goes in News Feeds

Overcoming the 420-character limit for Facebook status updates

The views expressed on this page may or may not reflect my current opinions, nor do they necessarily represent my past ones. After reading a slice of what I wrote in my various websites and books, you may conclude that I am a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Wrong; there is a better alternative. Just as the primary benefit from debate classes results when students present and defend opinions contrary to their own, I use a similar strategy as a creative writing tool to expand my brainpower—and yours. Mystified? Stay tuned for an explanation. PS: The wheels in your head are already turning a bit faster, aren't they?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reference: Imagining dialogue can boost critical thinking: Excerpt: “Examining an issue as a debate or dialogue between two sides helps people apply deeper, more sophisticated reasoning …”

Comments (5)

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Comment #114 by Rebecca Belden
February 3 2011 09:29:37 PM

Logging into Facebook from another computer

I made the mistake of logging into Facebook while on vacation and on my husband's computer. Once I got home it was a nightmare and sheer luck that I was able to get back in. I had to identify several friends by their avatar. Since I don't know hardly any of my Facebook friends personally, I couldn't match their names with their avatar. And they come up randomly. After three tries and not getting it right, you have to wait for hours before you can try again. This is insane!!! Do you have any tricks to get around this? By guesswork and sheer luck that the people I do know came up and I could identify them, I was able to get in.

REPLY FROM DR. PEZZI: I've had other friends report the same problem. I don't know any way to circumvent it. This is one of the many Facebook flaws that demonstrates their lack of common sense. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admits (practically brags) about how he pushes his programmers to work quickly, saying, "If you're not breaking things, you're not moving fast enough."

This is nuts. Writing good code takes time. It takes even more time to carefully think through something and do it in the most logical way that is as user-friendly as possible. I could write a book on the flaws I've found in Facebook, and I limit myself to its basic features. I've never seen such a popular site that had so many coding and conceptual errors. I could not understand how presumably smart programmers could do so many dumb things until I learned about how Zuckerberg values speed over quality . . . then it all made sense.

Comment #96 by Anonymous
January 8 2011 08:51:32 AM

What Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should do

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg desperately needs to buy a copy of your brainpower book for each of his employees. You are absolutely correct, Dr. Pezzi: how Facebook does things is often bizarrely illogical.

Comment #89 by Anonymous
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January 3 2011 09:59:02 PM

What's Even More Troubling

What I find extremely offensive and inappropriate is this: If you use the word "muslims" anywhere on Facebook, it is cross-posted on this page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Muslims/106272796074883

Comment #77 by Kevin Pezzi, MD • Website: www.ER-doctor.com
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December 18 2010 04:30:20 PM

Re: Facebook is flawed

Thank you for your kind comments, Misty! :-)

I agree and also feel blessed to know you and some other great Facebook friends I've made. As you so wisely pointed out, if I had to limit friend requests to people I already knew, we never would have met.

Comment #59 by Mrs. Misty Hausmann
December 18 2010 12:28:54 PM

Facebook is flawed

I think Facebook is trying to deter like-minded people from grouping together. We are stronger and more powerful as a group. We can share ideas and comments and ban together to effect a voting outcome.

I wouldn't be blessed to know you if I had to know you personally before accepting your friend request.

I love the Facebook friends I have made and knowing I am not the only one out there who thinks this way.

To require you know someone personally before sending a friend request and also risk being labeled a Spammer is insane!

If you find another site without these control issues let me know.

Misty

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