A Friendly Reminder: Facebook is a Social Utility not a Social Networking Site

That message saying that Facebook is a social utility is definitely staring at us everytime we visit the Facebook site. But what is not clear is what Facebook claims as the site not being a social networking site. In an email sent to a Facebook user who have been creating fake accounts in Facebook for the sake of playing a getting-to-be popular Facebook game PackRat, a Facebook rep was quoted saying the Facebook is not a “social networking site”.

As stated on our home page, Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you, not a “social networking site”. It is meant to help reinforce pre-existing social connections, not build large groups of new ones. If this is in direct contrast to what you expected as legitimate Facebook usage, I apologize for any confusion. This is simply the intention behind the site.

The Facebook rep also wrote that Facebook accounts that are used solely for the purpose of Facebook applications are in violation of Facebook TOS, and hence Facebook has terminated that user’s Facebook account.

To understand the case more clearly here’s a brief backgrounder.

PackRat is a getting-to-be-popular game application for Facebook. The object of the game is to steal as many trading cards as possible from Facebook friends. So, some users wanting to gain more cards started creating Facebook accounts so that they can steal their cards. The Facebook people found out about this and were not too happy with it. And so, they started purging the “additional accounts” created by players who have installed the game. And sent them warning emails.

For all intents and purposes, Facebook has every right cancel those said accounts, as it was clearly stated in the Facebook TOS. But incidentally, what brought to the attention of some bloggers is the fact that Facebook does not consider itself as a social networking site but rather a social utility – for connecting to family and your friends in real life. It was meant to be an extension of the real world. And so Facebook users should never have more than one account. Fine we agree to that.

But wait, why does everyone keep referring to Facebook a social networking site. Even the monthly statistics aggregator refer to Facebook as a social networking site.

This also means that we cannot use Facebook to meet new friends, to interact with people we don’t know, in short we are not allowed to do our social networking activities in Facebook.

If Facebook does not want to be called and considered as a social networking site, then MySpace is the king of social networking still.

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