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No more burgers-before-bros on Facebook

Stupid Facebook! Just eight days into Burger King's burgers-before-bros ad campaign, the socially-awkward networking site stopped it cold  — and this now-friendless tech writer doesn't even get a Whopper!
Image: facebook page
Here's Helen A.S. Popkin's "real" Facebook profile. Please note: No friends. No Whopper.
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Whopper lovers and Facebook freeloaders alike are mad as heck … and well, I am too (though for slightly different reasons). Just eight days into the blogosphere-infamous "Whopper Sacrifice" campaign — in which Facebookers were encouraged to dump 10 "friends" for a free-Whopper coupon — the Burger King application unceremoniously ceased to function. Bing bang boom, no free Whoppers for anyone.

"I think I’ll send an angry-gram to Facebook," wrote one poster from the grassroots BK-inspired Facebook group, "Whopper Sacrifice Network."

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! I had one sacrafice to go!!!!" lamented another upon learning the news. “Now i gotta spend $2.19.....stupid."

And a third: "Why is Facebook hatin?"

Why indeed?

"Whopper Sacrifice" is the one and only reason I made the decision to shed myself of the social stigma I’ve carried for years, and join the rest of the humanity on Facebook. I mean, join Facebook as myself, using the name that actually appears on my birth certificate, instead of accessing the social networking site via the many nom de plume profiles I maintain for strictly lurking purposes.

It’s not that I actually wanted a Whopper. I was more excited by the social experiment of building a profile, accepting 10 friends (including two hardcore vegans and my boss), and summarily dumping them in such a way that they’d receive an official notice via the "Whopper Sacrifice" Facebook application informing them that their friendship to me was worth roughly 1/10th of a fast food hamburger coupon (each). Because dude, that’s hilarious.

Alas, it was a message none of the 10 prospective recipients of my premeditated jackassery ever received. Within the 24 hours I executed my friendship-for-burger bait and switch — 24 hours I will never get back — Facebook modified the "Whopper Sacrifice" application so that the dropped friends no longer received the memo that they’d been axed from a friend hoard in favor of fast food, leading Burger King to stop the app altogether.

Nice work, rocket surgeons! Way to axe a golden opportunity to show prospective clients that they can advertise successfully on Facebook.

In its brief existence, "Whopper Sacrifice" collected 82,771 people who dumped 233,906 friends, each of which received a memo that only advanced the viral campaign.

Does Facebook hate money? Or does the company make so frakking much they can just turn their nose up at whatever they want? In this economy? With all the big money guys speculating that despite it’s insane growth rate, Facebook’s gigantic bubble is in for an inevitable pop?

Why did this happen? The world may never know. Repeated efforts to contact Facebook resulted in the same statement the company PR Bot e-mailed everyone in the media:

"We encourage creativity from developers and companies using Facebook Platform, but we also must ensure that applications follow users’ expectations of privacy. After extensive discussions with the developer, we have not disabled the application but have made some changes to the application’s behavior to assure that users’ expectations of privacy are maintained."

Ummmmmmmmmmmm … huh? What does that even mean? Is this a long-winded typo? Instead of "users’ expectations of privacy are maintained," did Facebook PR Bot mean to output, "users’ expectations not to get their damn feelings hurt by receiving a BK-branded Dear John wall post"?

It’s fairly easy to figure out the inspiration for this campaign. How many of you Facebook fanatics spent the last couple of years whining about how you have sooooo many Facebook friends, you don’t know actually know who the heck half of them are? It’s either that or "Oh, but I don’t want to accept the 'friend' request of chalk-eating Martha from the second grade or that one guy from the Learning Annex.”

And Facebook, the kids can take a joke. It wasn’t long after the "Whopper Sacrifice" campaign began that wily Facebook users had it gamed. "Whopper Sacrifice Network" is just one of the many groups that invited the masses to meet and make NSA (no-strings-attached) Facebook friends they could quickly dump en route to that free Whopper.

According to its manifesto, "The WSN is dedicated to pairing you up with 10 random people to add as a friend, and then sacrifice into the evil depths of a capitalistic fast food establishment for the savory gift of a heavenly Whopper."

(A footnote below the manifesto reads, "They’re really not that great.")

One might speculate that BK’s "Whopper Sacrifice" is antithetical to Facebook’s business model. But hands up, who here is starting to think Facebook doesn’t actually have a business model? It looks like a corporate superpower, but it sure doesn’t act like one. For all its youth and size, Facebook is like a Sci Fi fetus that grows into an adult in just under a week. Yes, it can pass for a grown-up, but inside it’s still a tiny baby … with under-developed motor skills.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s got a nerve throwing around the "P" word. Who on this planet goes on Facebook with any expectation of privacy? The social networking site has a history of opaque privacy practices. Let’s review just a few:

  • The Beacon fiasco of Christmas ’07, a marketing project which allowed e-commerce sites to publish purchases made by Facebook members to their profiles for all their "friends" to see.
  • A privacy policy written in double speak that seems to imply the site will hold on to your personal information for an undisclosed amount of time, even if you deactivate your account.
  • A giant safety hole which allows malicious applications to mine personal details from Facebook profiles, as demonstrated by a British technology show "Click" in May 2008.

Dude, I hesitated to use my genuine moniker for so long specifically because of the Facebook's hinky privacy issues. Yeah, I know the toothpaste is long out of the tube as far as me and Internet privacy are concerned. I use Google for cryin’ out loud. But I did take false comfort in my final Facebook holdout. Now that’s gone.

I placed my real name on Facebook, built a burger-centric profile that would telegraph my intentions to anyone who ever bothers to read, attracted the attention and "friend" requests from a surprisingly large amount of old friends for whom I have genuine affection, accepted their friend requests and almost immediately dumped them … only to realize these jerks had no clue I was gone.

And I don’t even get a Whopper.